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Western Hills


Located approximately l 5 kilometres from Kunming,the Western Hills spread out across a long wedge of parkland on the western side of Lake Dianchi.The hills’undulating outline is theught to resemble a reclining woman with tresses of hair fiewing into the sea.Therefore,they are also known as the“Sleeping Beauty Hills.”A touching story about the hills and the lake is very popular among the locals—a young woman who was waiting for her beloved family wept every day and eventually her tears converged into a huge lake.which was later known as Lake Dianchi.At the foot of the hill is Huating Temple.

0nce a country villa constructed by a royal Dali family during the Song Dynasty,it became a temple in the 14th century,and was extended in the Ming and Qing dynasties.The temple boasts some excellent gardens and fine statues,such as two iade Buddha statues presented by Burmese(present—day Myanmar) Buddhists,a gilded statue presented by Thai Buddhists and a copper statue ot Zhunti.a deity with three eyes and 18 arms.A garden of stupas is located in a corner of the temple grounds.About 10 stupas were built to commemorate deceased senior monks at the temple.More interesting iS the two—storey Haihui Tower that has been home to the spirits of many deceased since the early 1900s.On weekends and over traditional festivals.manv locals bring flowers,fruits and incense to worship their ancestors or pay respects to family members.

Because of the ideaIlocation of the temple--nestled in the mountains and facing Dianchi Lake.many locals pick the temple for burying the cremated remains of family members.Stepping into the first floor of the tower,the tourist almost loses his/her breath and feels that the tourist is venturing into a different world---rows of cinerary urns looked ghastly in dim light generated by a few weak bulbs.Built in the Yuan Dynasty.Taihua Temple houses a fine collection of flowering trees,including magnolias and camellias.The temple,an ideal place to appreciate the sunrise,attracts many prestigious figures in Chinese history,such as Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.Between Taihua Temple and Sanqing Taoist Temple near the summit is the Tomb of Nie Er (1912-1936),who was a talented Yunnan musician.Nie Er composed the national anthem before drowning in Japan en route to the Soviet Union for further training.A cable car is available for tourists and can carry them to the summit.On top of the hill lies Sanqing Temple and it was once a country villa for a prince in the Yuan Dynasty and then was turned into a temple dedicated to the three main Taoist deities.Thirteen ancient wooden structures built on the precipitous cliff are very impressive.Further up the temple is Dragon Gate。the largest attraction in the Western Hills.

Sculptures,corridors,pavilions and a group of grottoes,including the biggest one in Yunnan Province,are hacked out of the cliff.The first grotto—Phoenix Clift Grotto.also called“old rock cave”一was completed during the Ming Dynasty and features a mythological phoenix with spread wings.

Between 178l and 1835.Taoist monk Wu Laiqing and his co-workers continued to dig a corridor and Ciyun Cave from the cliff.A few years’later.some locaI people ioined the efforts.But the cost was much greater than they expected.Dragon gate and the Datian Temple.alsocalled“new rock cave,”only were finished 72 years later.

 

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