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Yuantong Temple

Location:at the southern side of Yuantong Mountain, Kunming City, Yunnan Province;
Opening time:08:00-17:30, daily;
Tel:86-10-6351-8284;
Best time for visit: March-April
Recommended time for a visit:2 hours
Open: 08:00-17:30. Tickets:RMB4.
Website:www.yuantong-temple.com

How to Get There

1) by bus No.85, 92, 95, 100, 101 or 119, get off at the stop of Yuantong Road .

Introduction

Yuantong Temple is the largest and most active temple in Kunming with a history of more than 1,200 years. Located on the south side of Yuantong Hill, it is a destination of pilgrimage for pilgrims worldwide. In 1956, the temple held a tooth of the Buddha here for a short time.
The ceremonies that held at the tooth relic where received and sent off were important events in the history of Yuantong Temple. The architecture of the temple buildings is rather typical, but the halls of the temple are visited in order on a declining slope, not on an ascending slope as is typical in Chinese Buddhist temples. In the temple are numerous scenic spots, and a pool reserved for setting captive fish free! (Fangshengchi). Yuantong Temple is one of the most important sites in the region for Buddhist ceremonies.

Histroy

It was first built in the late 8th and early 9th century, the time of the Nanzhao Kingdom in the Tang Dynasty. After two major restorations and expansion in the Chenghua period (1465-1487) of the Ming Dynasty and the 24th year of Emperor Kangxi's rule (1686) of the Qing Dynasty, the temple took on its present design, with covered corridors, bridges and grand halls.
This old temple is noted for its unusual structure which is high at the front and low at the back, From the front archway named "Yuantong Shengjing" (Wonderland), one can behold the entire garden. To the north is the splendid Yuantong main hall. At both sides of the hall are covered corridors running beside clear pools. This structure of a Buddhist hall surrounded by water is unique in China. The main hall maintains the style of the Yuan Dynasty architecture. Circling the two central pillars inside the hall are two giant dragons carved during the Ming Dynasty. The blue and yellow dragons face each other, as if they are ready to fight.
The stone staircases on both sides of the main hall are carved out of the cliff and are known as the "Caizhilu." From here one can climb to the top of the mountain. Beside the path are the most ancient inscriptions in Kunming. Weathering in the wind and rain for centuries, the characters are still clear today, and they are one of the most important historical relics in the city.
Behind the main hall are two caves, the "Yougu" and "Chaoying". The caves wind far into the mysterious depths of the mountain, and, according to local legend, were once the home of dragons. In the NanZhao Kingdom, a monk built a temple beside the cliff to entice the dragons. When the temple was destroyed, he built a terrace on which to perform magic on the dragons. Sun Ranweng, author and writer of the long antithetical couplet hung on the Daguan Belvedere, used to make a living by predicting people's fortunes he.

Features

Yuantong Temple is grand and unique. Its brilliant appearance, grand building complex, and tranquil surroundings have intoxicated generations of poets and painters who have written poems and brushed scrolls about it.
The only Buddhist temple within the city, Yuantong temple is very popular among tourists and pilgrims alike. Throngs swarm to the temple all year round. The temple is particularly crowded during the Qingming Festivals held the first and fifth days of each lunar month.

Sightseeing in depth

Entrance

The entrance is at the highest altitude, the memorial arch Yuantong Shengjing is on the middle and Yuantong Hall at the lowest altitude. The three parts line in a row facing south. After passing the memorial arch visitors will see the Temple of Deities where four deities (Dhritarastra, Vidradhaka, Virapaksa and Vaisramana), who protects the land and brings good weather, are worshiped. Behind the Temple of Deities comes the Pool of Setting Free with the Octagon Pavilion in the middle and two three-holes stone bridge connecting the Temple of Deities, the Octagon Pavilion and Yuantong Hall.

Yuantong Temple and Religion

"Yuantong" is in fact the Buddhist title of Avalokitesvara, signifying "understand the hardships of ordinary people". It is said that Avalokitesvara came to Yunnan with Tibetan Buddhism and became one of the main Bodhisattvas worshipped in Yunnan. In Mahayana, Avalokitesvara is one of Three Gods from the South China Sea and one of the Four Main Bodhisattvas.
Yuantong Temple is the representative of unity of three schools in Buddhism in Yunnan Province which is different from that of other temples in China. The main structure, Yuantong Hall, is of Mahayana; the Copper Buddhism Temple built in 1990 is of Theravada; and the side hall in the east represents Tibetan Buddhism. Besides complete Buddhism system, Yuantong Temple is also a combination of Buddhism and Taoism for showing sculptures and pictures of Taoist immoatals such as the Eight Immortals .

Tips:

1. Yuantong Temple is one of the main temple in which Kunming people participate Buddhist activities. Huge crowd of people comes for worshiping on the first day and the fifteenth day of every month in China lunar calendar. Tourists may have a change to witness the worship if they go on the right days.
2. Flowers especially the flowering cherries on the Yuantong Mountain blossom from March to April, in which flowers lowers would be feasted with the lovely sea of flowers.

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