Western Hills The Western Hills lie among the Biji Mountain
chain to the west of Kunming. From the east or north
banks of the Dianchi Lake, you can see the Western Hills,
looking just like a young girl lying with her face to
the sky and her long hair drifting into the water of
the lake. The local people call her the "Sleeping
Beauty." The folk legend says that she is dreaming
of her lover's return and her tears have formed the
vast Dianchi Lake.
The Western Hills scenic area stretches
from the wooded Huating Temple to the Longmen (Dragon
Gate) along the steep cliffs. Clouds and mist often
hide the mountain sides, with their giant firs and pines
and many ancient temples. The Huating Temple, the Taihua
Temple, Sanqingge and Longmen were all built around
the Ming and Qing dynasties. In the Taihua Mountains,
old roads lead to places surrounded by trees, ideal
places to shed one' s earthly worries and thoughts.
The Huating Temple is famous for its colorful statues
that combine styles of Buddhism and Taoism. The solemnity
of Buddhism and the freedom of Taoism blend into one.
The Taihua Temple, often shrouded in mist, is 1.5 kilometres
from the Huating Temple on the main peak of the Taihua
Mountains. This tranquil and isolated temple gives one
a feeling of heavenly peace. The main halls are built
along the rising slopes. Covered corridors connect each
pavilion and mansion. With its ancient trees, perfumed
orchids, camellias, osmanthus and plum trees, the Taihua
Temple is noted for its peace, tranquility and elegance.
In the cliffs under Luohan Peak, in the Western Hills,
are the Longmen Grottoes, with a stone gate leading
to the Datiange chamber. 2,300 metres above sea level,
these are the largest Taoist grottoes in Yunnan. It
took 72 years to build these grottoes during the Qing
Dynasty, from the 46th year of Emperor Qianlong's rule(1782)to
the 3rd year of Emperor Xianfeng's rule (1854). The
project was undertaken by stone craftsmen living at
the foot of the Western Hills. It is said that the workers
could get a measure of rice for each measure of stone,
poor payment for such hard and dangerous work.
(Mansion of Heaven) is a stone chamber carved out of
the cliffs and is regarded as the finest of the Longmen
Grottoes. The relief carving on the walls, the gods,
the sacrificial table and the candlesticks are all sculpted
following the original shape of the rocks. The Kuixing
(God of literature and exams) in the center has one
foot on a huge turtle. Holding a dipper and a brush,
he turns back to look into the blue sky above the cliffs.
Yet his brush has no point. It is said that the stone
carver broke the brush point by accident and spoiled
the work of decades. He dropped his knife and threw
himself over the cliffs. Standing on the Longmen, the
lake is vast and the sky is endless. In the morning,
it is an ideal place to greet the rising sun. In the
evening, one can admire the sparkling lights of downtown
Kunming. These scenes all make one feel like a god about
to rise to the heavens.
The 3rd of March is a festive time in the
Western Hills. It is the best time for Kunming residents
to climb the mountains and look into the distance, to
admire the spring flowers and appreciate the feeling
of new life.
Kunming Travel Attractions