Western Mountains

Lying among the Biji Mountain chain to the west of Kunming, on the west bank of the Dianchi Lake, Western Mountain Forest Reserve extends for more than 40 km at an average altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level. This is a colossal natural forest reserve in the midst of a lofty mountain range crisscrossed by babbling brooks and gurgling streams. Ancient trees are adorned with thick, lush foliage and birds chirp and flutter in the green treetops.

Looked from afar, the Western Mountains resembles to a reclining Buddha or a sleeping beauty, so it’s also referred to as “the Reclining Buddha” and “the Sleeping Beauty”. Locally called “Biji Hill” (Green Rooster Mountain), the Western Mountains consists of Biji Hill, Huating Hill, Taihua Hill, Taiping Hill and Luohan Hill etc among which Luohan Hill is the highest-2,511 meters above the sea level. Covered with flourishing vegetation and exhibiting intoxicating natural and humanity sights, the West Hill Park has been dubbed as “the Best Land in Central Yunnan”. Major scenic spots there include the Dragon Gate, Sanqing Pavilion, Huating Buddhist Temple, Taihua Buddhist Temple, the Tomb of Mr. Nie’er and the Magnolia Garden etc.

Dragon Gate

As the quintessence of the entire Park, the Dragon Gate is to the south of Sanqing Pavilion and is actually a grotto project on the precipitous cliffs starting from the short tunnel named "Bieyoudongtian (a Wonderland)" to Datiange Grotto.  

The Dragon Gate Grotto mainly includes “the Old Stone House” (or the Phoenix Rock), Ciyun Cave, Yunhua Cave and Datiange Grotto. For this incredible project, Taoist priest Wu Laiqing, famous mason Yang Rulan and his son Yang Jitai in the Qing Dynasty spent as long as 72 years to complete (1781-1853).

The deity statues, tables, incense-burners, couplets, sacrifices, plants and animals etc in the grottoes were all exquisite relief carvings chiseled out of natural rocks. Men of letters since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) have their inscriptions on the rocks, making the Dragon Gate another ideal place to appreciate masterpieces of both cliff carvings and Chinese calligraphic art. What is the most popular among visitors is Datiange Grotto where Kui Star God (in charge of Literacy), Wenchang God (in charge of Promotion) and Guansheng God (in charge of Warfare and Marshal Arts) are enshrined. These vividly-looking gods have undoubtedly made Datiange Grotto the quintessence of the entire Dragon Gate, because pilgrims uphold the tenet that “Once you visit the Dragon Gate, your lucks are approaching”.       

Huating Temple

Huating Temple is situated in Huating Hill. Originally built the Dali Kingdom Period (938-1253) of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), it has undergone several renovations in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The architecture complex of the temple is compactly laid out in extraordinary manner. The temple is known for its grandiose Heavenly Guardians Hall (Tian Wang Dian) and Majestic Hall (Da Xiong Bao Dian). Especially, the three-meter-high Buddhas and 500 Buddhist Arhats in the Majestic Hall add much to the popularity of Huating Temple which has been deemed “the No.1 Buddhist Temple in Yunnan”.   

Taihua Temple

Situated in Taihua Hill, Taihua Temple is also named “Foyan Temple”. In 1306, Liangwang King (one of Kublai Khan’s sons) ordered to construct a temple in Taihua Hill and invited a Buddhist Master named “Xuan Jian Wu Zhao” to be the Buddhist abbey. Near the entrance to Taihua Temple stands a 600-years-old gingko tree; it’s said to be planted by Zhu Yunwen-Minghui Emperor of the Ming Dynasty-when he fled to Yunnan because his throne was “stolen” by his uncle Zhu Di.      


Sanqing Pavilion

Sanqing Pavilion Area is composed of “nine layers and eleven pavilions”. As the Dragon Gate does, these pavilions are constructed on the cliffs and have been one of the major Taoist architecture complexes in Kunming City or Yunnan Province. 

Tomb of Nie’er

The Tomb of Mr. Nie’er is near the cable car station of the Dragon Gate. It’s shrouded in verdant cypresses and pine trees. Mr. Nie’er, was born in 1912 in Kunming. His forefathers came from Yuxi. When he grew up he became a musician and composed the National Anthem of PRC. Unfortunately, he was drowned at 24 in 1935 in Japan. 

How to get

Take Public Bus No. 6, 51 (terminal at Gaoyao, another 4 km to trek) or special line at Yunnan Dramatic House; Cable Car available to Dragon Gate; Cable Car available from Haigeng Park (Dian Lake) to Cable Car Station of the Dragon Gate;

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