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No. 1 Mountain in South Guizhou – Qianling Park
2009-09-25   

 

  Located at the northwestern corner of Guiyang, Qianling Park got its name from Mount Qianling which has long been known as No. 1 Mountain in South Guizhou. Old trees spread around the Park covered with thick vegetation. The Park has gathered the nimbus of the Guizhou Plateau. More than 1,500 kinds of trees and flowers and over 1,000 types of precious medicine herbs grow on the mountain. Clear springs and grotesque rocks are seen everywhere and a lot of rhesus monkeys and birds inhabit here. Ascending the mountain along the “Winding Path”, you will reach the Hongfu Temple which, built at the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty over 300 hundred years ago, is one the famous temples in Guizhou. The Hongfu Temple, Kylin Cave at foot of the mountain and cliff carvings on the mountain are all key protected sites at the provincial level. Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, two patriotic generals, stayed in Kylin Cave under house arrest during the Anti-Japanese War.  

  The cliff carvings can be seen along the winding path leading to the Hongfu Temple. When coming to the “Kanzhu Pavilion” on top of the Mountain, you may get a panorama of Guiyang. At foot of the Mountain lies the Qianling Lake with green waves and mirror-like surface dotted by tourist boats. Under the pine and cypress trees, a revolutionary martyr monument stands on the lake bank.

  A multi-function tourist park, Qianling Park has a zoo built at its peaceful valley. Relics of glaciations during the Quaternary period are preserved on the Mountain. Qianling Park is not only a distinguished place of interest in China, but also a great base for teaching and field work thanks to its complicated geological structure and a tremendous variety of plants.

   

  The Hongfu (弘福) Temple is on Mount Qianling northwest of Guiyang, Guizhou, and it is about 1.5km away from downtown Guiyang. It was built by Monk Chisong (1634-1706) in 1672, when it was called Hongfu (宏福) Temple. Chisong was surnamed Han before he became a monk, and his religious name was Daoling.

  When Chisong first built the Temple, the land was “donated” by Luo Miaode, a Buddhism believer, and others. Chisong lived in a shed with couch grass cover. His devotion moved local officials, with whose support the monk dormitory, the Main Shrine Hall and the main gate were completed. Soon afterwards, hundreds of mu (one mu is roughly 667m2) of fields was purchased by the Temple, which generated rent of 1,200 dan (one dan is roughly 50kg). There were usually 30 monks living at the Temple. The Temple and monks were very rich and many people paid visit to the Temple, resulting in the saying “believers are rich but the abbot is even wealthier”. Chisong drafted Eight Commandments in person which was the first of its type in Guizhou. Chisong, furthermore, made other rules and supplemented other sutras as well as collected Buddhist cannons so that the Temple soon became the top temple in Guizhou.

  Chisong died in 1706 and was buried on Mount Qianling. His tomb tablet was inscribed “Tower of Monk Daoling of Mount Qianling, the 33rd generation of authentic sect”. Chisong personally edited 12 volumes of Records of Mount Qianling: Xingye, Outline of Scenery, Temples, Golden Images, Fayu, Dharma Protector, Fields of the Temple, Source, Commandments, Towers, Art and Literature (volume A and B). It was finalized by He Suru, a Juren (government official candidate after passing the imperial exam) of Guiyang, and published in 1705. It was supplemented by Yu Zhiqing of Guiyang in the early 1910’s and published by Wentong Press. It was further proofread in 1996 and a hardback thereof came out. Chisong’s disciple Zai Mai succeeded him and became the abbot.

  Since Emperor Qianlong came to throne, the Hongfu Temple were renovated and rebuilt for many times so that it possessed 15 buildings like three gates, Kwan-yin Hall, Main Shrine Hall, Sutras Storage Room, hall for preaching the Buddhist doctrine, etc. The Hongfu Temple and the Xixia Temple (Mount Dongshan) of Guiyang are together known as “Two Scenic Spots in East and West”.

  In 1739 during the Qianlong Reign, the government donated a Tripitaka to the Hongfu Temple. With Emperor Yongzheng’s special permission, the Hongfu Temple was able to transmit the precepts. It served as the venue of Guizhou Buddhist Association during the period of Republic of China (1911-1949). Monk Guoyang founded the Guizhou College of Buddhism here in 1929. Ping Gang, former secretary of Sun Yat-sen, once lectured more than 80 monks, educating a group of intelligent monks for Guizhou. From 1905 to 1946, the Hongfu Temple had transmitted the precepts for 18 times. By 1949, Chisong’s “teaching” had been handed down for 12 generations usually with over 100 monks (over 30 monks at the least) living at the Temple.  

  After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Monk Huaiyi became the abbot of the Temple, and the monks’ living was self-sufficient and they practiced a Dhuta practice. Monks scattered during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, and the Temple was administered by the Park. In 1983, the Hongfu Temple became one of the 142 key temples designated by the State Council as well as a key historical and cultural relic under provincial level protection. The Buddhist circle resumed administration of the Temple on July 28, 1987 when Monk Huihai, director of the Buddhist Association of Guizhou, became head of the Temple.

  The Hongfu Temple has three tiers of buildings, or the Main Shrine Hall (the proper hall), the Kwan-yin Hall (the middle hall) and the Maitreya Hall (the front hall), and there are additionally sutra storage room, Pilu Attic, etc. Grand and lofty, the halls and attics are constructed with red walls and blue tiles. The beams and columns are finely carved, and winding corridors connect the Temple as a whole. The Temple, in recent years, built sutra tower outside, which is equipped with carved wall, stone lions, copper tripods, iron tripods, bell tower, etc. Property administration, vegetarian canteen and tea house have been set up. More than ten towers for storing ashes of former abbots have been restored. The Fahua Tower, the first of its kind in Guizhou was constructed, and in addition, building and structures as follows are completed too: Tower of the First Abbot Reciting Sutras, Jiulongyu Buddha Stone Wall, Bell Tower, Tianwang Hall, Sutra Storage Building, Ksitigarbha Hall, Meditation Room, Vegetarian Canteen, Monk Dormitory, Guest Room, Abbot Garden, Tablet Corridor, etc.

  The Winding Path via which you may ascend the Mountain to reach the Hongfu Temple was opened up by Chisong in 1688, which was renovated in 1789 and 1855 respectively. After 1949, it was widened and reinforced. The path has 383 steps in total. There are relics like Gufodong (ancient Buddha cave), Xibochi (alms bowl washing pond), Lingguan Pavilion, and so on along the Path. There are cliff carvings too, such as “Conduct good deeds as many as possible to prepare for your next life”, “Tiger” written by Zhao Dechang from Daiyue of Shanxi, who was once governor of Guizhou, “No. 1 mountain in South Guizhou”, “Zhenfa Yancang”, etc.  

  On top of the Great Gate is inscribed with “Hongfu Temple” and “Amitabha” written by Zhao Puchu, former chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, and  “No. 1 mountain in South Guizhou” written by Dong Biwu, the late Chinese Vice President. There are bell towers on both sides of the gate, and the copper bell inside weighs over 1,500kg. The bell was made in 1469, which was originally placed in the Daxing Temple in downtown area and then relocated here in 1980.

  The Saddharmapundarika Sutra Tower is erected on the right front of the front gate. 15m high, the Tower is of 7 storeys, 6 corners. The Lotus Sutra is stored in the Tower, and the Tower walls are carved with 36 buddhas and excerpts of sutras. There is a tablet dedicated to people who contributed to construction of the Tower. Right opposite to the gate is the Jiulongyu Buddha Stone Wall embodying the legend that nine dragons offered water for the newly born Sakyamuni to take shower.

  The first tier of hall is the Tianwang Hall where Maitreya and four guarding gods are enshrined. On the southern side is carved sutra, and the walls on both sides outside the hall are huge paintings. The second tier of hall is the Kwan-yin Hall where the 32-arm Kwan-yin is enshrined. The 32 arms of the goddess means Kwan-yin is kind and ready to help those in need. Bodhisattva Wei Tuo is behind with eyes open wide and pestle in hand. The third tier of hall is the Main Shrine Hall where Sakyamuni and other gods and 18 disciples of the Buddha are enshrined and their statues are all gilded; on the wall are paintings about the Buddha. The jade Buddha statue in the Jade Buddha Hall is from Rangoon under the efforts of Nun Honghui, a Chinese Burmese. The Buddha is sitting down, 1.5m high, 1.2m wide, 900kg in weight. The jade is of excellent quality, making the statue look kind and stately. There are additionally over ten jade statues of other gods and Kwan-yin. “Captive Animal Freeing Pond” has Quchi Pavilion and long corridor beside it. Japanese oriental cherry trees grow before the pavilion and their blossoms are luxuriant in spring, creating attractive scenery all year long. There are a great number of osmanthus trees in front of “Shuanggui Tower”. Osmanthus fragrance is everywhere in autumn so that visitors forget to return home. A couplet in front of the tower says that one feels like in rain when walking under so many osmanthus trees and would like to ascend the tower to appreciate the osmanthus flowers.

  Two stone tablets are erected before a high platform behind the hall, and they are inscribed with poems written by Zhu De and Dong Biwu, both being former high-ranking officials in China, when they paid a visit to Mount Qianling. A number of inscriptions are on the stone wall behind the two tablets, and the inscriptions were written by Wu Dapu, Yunnan and Guizhou governor in the early reign of Emperor Qianlong, Liu Zao, grand coordinator of Guizhou, Monk Chisong, etc. Besides numerous halls and towers, the Hongfu Temple is also home to Fengchi Pavilion painting corridor, Yueming Pond, Shengsheng Spring, City Watching Platform, etc. There is a tower forest at the foot of Pilu Peak behind the Temple, and these towers are tombs of monks and Buddhism believers for many generations, among whom are Chisong, Qumai, Canzhi, Xinghui, Guangcan, Fuyun, Zhanran, Baiqing, Xinyue, Zhiming, Ciyun, Juechong, etc.

  Descending from the Hongfu Temple along the steep cliff, one comes to the Winding Path, which is the shortcut leading to the Temple and has over 380 steps. It was built in 1688 and renovated during the reign of Emperor Qianlong and Xianfeng in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are numerous cliff carvings along the Path as well as pavilions and hall structures among them. The natural miraculous scenery like “Old Buddha Cave”, “Trumpet Shell Pavilion”, “Resounding Stone Cave”, “Alms Bowl Washing Pond”, and so forth will make tourists linger over them under tree shade along the Path. Xu Xiake, geologist of the Ming Dynasty, came to Guizhou and visited “the Old Buddha Cave” on the 11th day of the 4th lunar month in 1638. After leaving the Winding Path, you go north and will be met by “the Kylin Cave” inside which are various stalactites, one of them looking like a kylin, hence the name of the Cave. Spacious inside, the Cave has a spring in front of it and a history of more than 400 years. The Cave is famous because Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, two patriotic generals, were imprisoned here by Chiang Kai-shek during 19421948, thus many visitors are attracted to the Cave.

  On the Lunar New Year’s Eve, citizens of Guiyang are accustomed to praying for blessings by ascending Mount Qianling and burning incense at the Hongfu Temple, and they would pick firewood on their way back home.

  This is because firewood () sounds similar to fortune (财) in Chinese, and the latter implies a river of gold flows into your pockets.

  Tips for tourists:

  1. There is an ocean aquarium on the left inside the Park priced at RMB 30/person (RMB 25/person for a group of tourists over 10 people).

  2. Ticket for the Hongfu Temple is RMB1/person.

  3. Cable cars are available beside the ocean aquarium if you wish to have a bird’s-eye view of Guiyang from a long distance. Ticket for the cable car is RMB12/adult person, RMB 8/child; the two-way ticket is RMB16/adult person, RMB 10/child.

 

 
 
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