Location : located
between 10210' - 10340', 2422' -2633' east longitude and north
Neighboring Areas : Sichuan Province and Guizhou Province; Tibet
Autonomous Region and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Physical Features : average altitude of 400 above sea level,
surrounded by hills and facing the beautiful "Dian Chi" lake to the
Population : 3.89 million
Urban Population : 1.69 million
Area : 21,018 sq km
Nationalities : Han, Hui, Manchu, Yi, Bai, Dai, Zhuang, Hani,
Naxi and Mongolian
History : inhabited by Chinese for 2000 years; remaining a remote
outpost until the 8th century, thereafter, becoming a secondary
capital of the kingdom of Nanzhao which centered to the northwest of
it at Dali, obtained wide fame in the Ming dyansty
Climatic Features : low-latitude monsoon climate with sunlight of
2250 hours, frost-free of 230 days; no bitter cold in winter or no
extreme hot in summer
Average Temperature : 15.1C
Rainfall : annual average of 1075mm
Products : grain, wheat, horsebean, corn, potato and fruits such
as peach, apple, orange, grape, and chestnut
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Black Dragon Pool
Dragon Pool is situated at the foot of Longquan Hill in the northern
outskirts of Kunming, 17 kilometers from the downtown area. Surrounded
by towering old trees and bamboo groves, the pool has never got dry
even in the years of drought. Legend goes that there used to be ten
violently destructive dragons doing wrong in the world. About 750
A.D., Lu Dongbin, a famous Taoist priest in the Tang dynasty,
suppressed nine dragons and left the tenth, a black dragon, remained
in the pool. Hence the name Black Dragon Pool.
Came into being in 1394, Black Dragon Pool is divided into two parts
by a stone bridge. The color of the water in the south pool is green
and the north yellow. Although the water of these two parts meets each
other, fish in one pool never visits the other one. There are two
Taoist temples in Black Dragon Pool, the lower one is Black Dragon
Palace and the upper Longquan Temple. The Black Dragon Palace was
first built in 1394 during the Ming dynasty. Enshrined in the temple
are the Dragon King, god and goddess of thunder, god of rain and god
of wind. Built in a two-courtyard structure, it provides a quiet and
comfort place for relaxation.
Longquan Temple is a restored Ming dynasty temple, which used to be
the largest Daoist (Taoist) center in southwest China. The temple,
perched on a hillside overlooking the pool, is built on three levels.
The first contains many famous ancient trees in its courtyards, in
which a Tang dynasty plum tree, over 1000 years old, is the most
famous one. The second level building now serves as an art gallery and
the top level is a restored temple building. Main buildings in
Longquan Temple include Thunder-Lightning-Deity Hall, the Hall of the
North Pole, Sanqing Hall, the Hall of the Jade Emperor and some other
halls for worshipping Daoist immortals. Besides, the Black Dragon Pool
owns the greatest plum garden in China, in which over 87 kinds of
plums were planted.
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Daguan Park, located 7
kilometers west of Kunming, is known for its longest antithetical
couplet in China. First built in 1682 by a monk, the park once served
as a Guan in (Avalokistesvara's) Temple. In 1690, large-scale
construction was carried out with flowers, trees, ponds, causeways,
pavilions and halls added to it. The park provides a spectacular view
across sparkling Dianchi Lake to the distant Western Hills. Among the
ancient architectures in this park, the three-storey Daguan Pavilion,
which is decorated with flying eaves and splendid paintings, is the
highlight of Daguan Park.
On the pavilion's lakeside facade hang two 5-meter-long tablets on
which a couplet was written by Sun Ranweng, a famous poet of the Qing
dynasty. Consisting of 180 Chinese characters, this couplet is reputed
as the longest couplet throughout China. The upper scroll depicts the
beautiful scenery of Kunming, while the lower scroll contains the
author's comments on some important historical events in Yunnan.
Personal feelings and beautiful sceneries mix together in this
couplet, adding more charm to this park. Standing on the pavilion,
people could have an overview of the park and the sceneries nearby.
On every Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Cake Festival), as custom, Kunming
locals normally go to Daguan Park to enjoy flowers and the full moon.
Deeply immersed in thick moonlight, the park looks more enchanting
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Dianchi Lake, which formed
based upon a fault crossing the central Yunnan Plateau, is located at
the foot of the Western Hills, southwest of Kunming. Occupying an area
of 300 sqkm, the lake, 150 km in circumference and 40 km from north to
south, is the sixth largest fresh water lake in China. Being a
highland lake with an elevation of 1885 meters, the lake is also
reputed as a "Pearl on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.
The lake, capable of tossing up violent storms, is especially
beautiful when the dawn or dusk comes. People describe the lake's
moods as "virility seasoned with tenderness." High rectangular sails
ribbed with bamboo battens float on the water and gently sway in the
breeze. The shoreline of Dianchi Lake is dotted with small fishing
hamlets surrounded by fertile fields.
Since the ancient times, Dianchi Lake has been a touring spot. Sailing
on the lake, visitors can fully enjoy the beauty of the highland lake.
In recent years, the water in Dianchi Lake has been severely polluted
and the lake now is groaning for effective ecological and legal
protection. Since the 1990s, the government has dealt with the
pollution of the lake and people hope that in the near future, a clean
Dianchi Lake would appear again.
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Temple, located on Mingfeng Hill, 11km northeast of Kunming, is also
known as Taihe Palace (the Hall of Supreme Harmony) and Tongwa Temple
(the Bronze Tile Temple). The temple was originally built in 1604
during the Ming dynasty. Chen Yongbin, the governor of Yunnan at the
time, launched the construction to honor the Daoist hero-god Zishi,
who was supposed to live at the northern extremity of the universe.
They built a copper temple to represent his palace there, which gleam
like gold under sunlight. Hence the name.
After three decades, the temple was transported intact to Mt. Jizu,
and later in 1670, a new temple, designed by Wu Sangui, was cast to
replace the former one. However the temple was destroyed during the
Yunnan Muslim rebellion in the mid-19 century. Built in 1890 with 250
tons of solid bronze, the present temple, 6.7 meters in height and 7.8
meters in width, is reputed as the largest bronze hall in China.
Except staircases and balustrades, which are made of marble, the
walls, columns, rafters, roof-tiles, altars, Buddha statues, wall
decorations, even the banner near the gate tower, were all made of
In the Golden Temple is still preserved a double-edged sword with the
pattern of the Big Dipper on it, which weighs more than 20 kilograms
and is thought to be a magic weapon of Zhen Wu, a Daoist deity, to
guard the hill. With natural scenery mingled with sites of historical
interest, here became a large scenic resort in Kunming.
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Qiongzhu Temple (Bamboo
On the wooded slopes of
Yu'an Hill, about 12 km northwest of Kunming, stands Bamboo Temple,
which is the first temple built after Zen Buddhist had been introduced
to Yunnan early in 1279. Legend goes that two princes of Nanzhao
Kingdom under the reign of Tang dynasty went hunting in the hills
outside Kunming in the year 638. A magic rhinoceros led them deep into
a forest where they met a group of silver-haired and
ruddy-complexioned monks carrying staves of bamboo. When they were
sill in amazement, these monks vanished in a purple cloud, only
leaving their walking sticks planted in the ground. These bamboos
promptly sprouted leaves and quickly became a bamboo forest. In order
to honor the supernatural encounter, the devout brothers built a
Buddhist temple here and named it Bamboo Temple.
According to historic record, the temple was first built around 1280
during the reign of Kublai Khan (the first emperor of the Yuan
dynasty). It was said that before the Song dynasty, a religious sect
of Buddhism, similar to Lamaism in Tibet, was commonly adopted. At the
turn of the Song and Yuan dynasties, a famous monk who had studied
Buddhism for about 25 years in Central Plains of China preached
Buddhism at the Bamboo Temple. With time passing by, the temple became
more and more famous in Yunnan as the first Buddhist temple in which
Buddhism from the interior of China was introduced.
Burned down and renovated in the 15th century, it was restored from
1883 to 1890. Elaborately designed, the temple is harmonious with the
surroundings. It consists of five parts, including Tianwang (Heaven
King) Temple, Fanyin Pavilion, Tiantailai Pavilion, Daxiong Temple and
The highlight of this temple lies in the 500 life-size statues of
luohan. These statues were seven years' artistic creations of a famous
sculptor, Li Guangxiu from Sichuan and his five apprentices. Before
this great task, they had plunged themselves deep into the thick of
life to study the images and mental attitude of various people.
Distinctive in respective facial expressions and postures, these vivid
sculptures were reputed as "a pearl in the treasure house of oriental
sculpture". Popular belief claims that, by beginning with any statue
and counting down the row to your right as far as the number of your
age, you will find a luohan that best exemplifies your inner self.
In the temple there are also many valuable inscriptions and couplets
on tablets and pillars, providing information of the history,
geography and culture in the 13th and 14th. Now, this temple attracts
countless visitors each year.
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Located 15km west of
Kunming, Western Hills is a range of four mountains stretching over 40
kilometers along the western shore of Dianchi Lake, looking like a
Sleeping Beauty with long tresses trailing away to the south. With an
elevation of 1900-2350 meters, Western Hills contains the best scenery
and some of the finest temples in the entire region.
Huating Temple (Huating Si)
Built in the 11th century, it used to be a county temple of the
Nanzhao Kingdom. Rebuilt in 14th century, it continued to grow and
later became the largest Buddhist complex in Kunming. The main temple
contains a trinity of gilded lacquer Buddhas seated on lotus thrones.
It is characterized by blue hair, august gesture and sumptuous
setting. Comparing with the serious Buddha, the 500 luohan on the
sidewalls, similar to those in the Bamboo Temple, then appear
frivolous and easygoing.
Taihua Temple (Taihua Si)
With an elevation of 2350m, Taihua Temple is located in a deep forest
2 kilometers away from Huating Temple. First built in the Yuan
dynasty, it is the oldest temple in Western Hills. The temple was
destroyed and rebuilt for several times, and the present one dates
back to 1687.
The temple is famous for its rare flowers and trees. Many camellia,
magnolia, sweet-scented osmanthus and others trees were planted in and
outside the temple, made the temple the best place to enjoy the
flowers. The main hall in this temple is Hall of the Precious Hero (Daxiong
Baodian), where Buddhas of the Three Ages: Sakyamuni, Maitreys and
Kasyapa-matanga are enshrined. Behind the main hall stands an altar to
Guanyin. Reputed as Deliverer of Sons, Guanyin is widely enshrined by
newlyweds and barren couples who hope to get a male baby.
Sanqing Pavilion (Three Pure Pavilion)
To the south of Huating Temple is Three Purity Pavilion. Different
from the former temples, this temple follows Taoist architectural
style. Originally built in the early 14th century as a summer resort
for a Mongol prince of the Yuan dynasty, the pavilion later was
renovated as a Daoist shrine. The two-storey pavilion now serves as a
teahouse. Statues of Zhen Wu and Taishang Laojun were enshrined there.
A stone carving, depicting a green snake winding around a tortoise
stands by the road. Snake and tortoise are symbols of longevity and it
is said that one who touches the carving would live longer.
Dragon Gate (Longmen)
Totally cut on a natural precipice, Dragon Gate is the highlight of
Western Hills. With an elevation of 2,500 meters, it is the highest
temple on the hill.
In 1781, a necessitous Daoist monk named Wu Laiqing, motivated by
devotion, began chipping his way up the cliff with hammer and chisel.
After his death, two devoted gentlemen, aided by villagers from the
foot of the mountain, continued his project. After years' hard work,
they finally inched the route precariously upward to a natural
cliff-top platform, completing Wu Laiqing's visionary plan in 1853.
Many inscriptions and steles are found here and there in Dragon Gate.
Near Air Corridor stands an arch on which the characters "Longmen"
(Dragon Gate) were inscribed. Looking down from here, one may have a
bird's view of Kunming city and Dianchi Lake.
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Yunnan Stone Forest
Stone Forest, one of China's most famous scenic spots and known as
"the most fantastic scenery under heaven", is located in the Lunan
Autonomous County of Yi Nationality, about 75 miles southeast of
Kunming. It in fact is a massive collection of grey limestone pillars,
split by rain water and eroded to their present fanciful forms.
Covering a total area of 350 square kilometer, it includes the big and
small stone forests, and other scenic spots such as the "Moon Lake", "Dadie
Waterfall", and "Subterranean Stone Forest in Zhiyun Cave". Since the
Ming dynasty, Stone Forest has long been one of the most famous scenic
spots in China.
Taking the shapes of pagodas, walls, pillars, ganodermas, swords or
animals, a huge number of vertically carved, fantastically shaped
limestone pillars scattered here and there, in which one of them is
engraved with two big words "Stone Forest", forming a marvelous
landscape. Range between 6 ft and 98 ft in the height, these pillars,
from a distance, look like a dense forest. No wonder that strolling
among them, one would trow that he is in a maze.
Major scenic spots in Stone Forest include Sword Peak Pond, Jade Lake,
Lotus Blossom Peak, Big Stone Forest, Naigu Stone Forest, Dadie
Waterfall, Zhiyun Cave, Qifeng Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, and Peak
View Pavilion. As soon as the visitors enter the forest, the "Sword
Peak Pond" would burst into your eyesight, with its purely
jadeite-colored water. Leaning against the red railing by the pond,
one can enjoy the peculiar sight of the countless stone peaks assuming
a thousand different shapes, all fanciful and picturesque, and the
goldfish leisurely wagging the tail in the pond. Walking on, the
numerous fantastic stone peaks, rock pillars, stone flowers, rock
levels, and rock flows which appear in succession would make you
believe that you are in a kingdom which only exist in fairy tales.
The splendor of this place is enhanced by another feature, that is,
the custom of the local Sani people, which is a branch of the Yi
nationality. Sani people are industrious, unconstrained and hospitable
and all Sani girls are experts at spinning, weaving and embroidering.
The Sani people, especially the young people, are very good at singing
and dancing. Each day at sunset, boys and girls would gather at the
village platform and colorful programs would be held there. The boys
play the three-stringed plucked instruments while the girls dance
enthusiastically with the drumbeats. If lucky enough, you would be
invite to join the dancing and get a good guide at the same time.
The most attractive festival of Sani people is the Torch Festival
which comes every lunar year on June 24 th. On that day the entire
Stone Forest is permeated with a festival atmosphere. Traditional
performances like wrestling, bull-fighting are shown in the forest.
When the land is enveloped in a curtain of night, young men, holding
torches in their hands run after girls to propose marriage in the
light of colored lanterns. This tradition continues for many years and
till today it has more fascination for visitors than ever.
About the formations of stone forest, legend goes that the immortals
smashed a mountain into a labyrinth for lovers seeking some privacy.
While about this unique phenomenon of Stone Forest, modern science
gives a reasonable answer. According to geologist's studies and
verifications, the Stone Forest was a vast expanse of sea in the
carboniferous period of Paleozoic era which commenced 270 million
years ago. Later the sea receded due to the movement of the earth's
crust and the limestones deposited on the seabed rise up, hence formed
the land. Eons of weathering and erosion dissolved the stone and
broadened the fissures, and finally molded them into groups of
pillars, which from a distance resemble a dense mass of trees.
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provided by China National