Tag Archives: Qingming Mountain

Atop Zi Xia Feng

IMG_20160816_101835

“Changzhou has a mountain? Where the hell is that?”

People who say this are usually a little dumbfounded, and they have a right to be. Changzhou is a relatively flat city along the Yangtze River. Both nearby Zhenjiang and Wuxi have more hills. In a way, it’s sort of fitting that the mountain in question is in a north eastern part of Wujin and Changzhou.

The name, according to every map I have looked at, is Qingming Mountain. There are graveyards and at least four temples here. One time, I decided to take my ebike to the top. A small concrete road winds its way up the slope. However, I stopped halfway. I wondered if my bike could even make once the road became steep. So, I pulled over and put my D-lock on my wheel. I walked the rest of the way, and realized that parking was for the best. The road turns to uneven dirt.

As I walked, I noticed a number of people doing the same. Parents were with their kids. Chinese men on ebikes were braver than me while trying to ascend the hill — with considerable less powerful rides than mine. This reminded me of a friend who seen this place before I could, he got his bike to the top as well. Oh well, and too each their own. There was even a guy on a mountain bike getting in some good exercise.

IMG_20160816_101221

The peak of the hill seemed a little underwhelming. The trees and the forest line obscures much of the view. So, if you are up here with a camera, there are no great landscape shots of eastern Changzhou to be had. There is also a locked and seemingly abandoned pagoda. It’s one of the mountains prominent features when looking from a far distance. Close up, it appears somewhat neglected. People have scratched Chinese graffiti into the yellow paint, and grass and weeds have sprouted on some parts of the roof. Also, there are a series of rocks surrounding a single tree and an antenna. These stones feature engraved chinese characters displaying the name of the peak, Zi Xia Feng. According to a very good Chinese friend, another rock features a poem, and there are pleas to protect the environment from litter.

IMG_20160816_101154

Qingming Mountain has plenty of interesting cultural attractions like Dalin and Bailong Temples. The Zi Xia Feng Peak is not one of those cultural attractions. However, there are plenty of hillside paths, and these are a good if somebody wants to get good exercise via hiking.

IMG_20160816_101250

Fushou Temple

IMG_20160716_162621[1]

Qingming Mountain, over in the northeastern arm of Wujin, seems to be a spiritual destination in Changzhou. Dalin and Bailong temples are located there, and both are equally large as Buddhist and Taoist religious destinations. Both cost about 10 RMB to get in. But Qingming seems home to other places. A cemetery covers a lot of the hill. There is also a perpetually closed martyr’s graveyard, and then there is also Fushou Temple.

Every time I have visited Dalin or Bailong, the doors were usually closed and locked. Recently, I returned to Qingming Mountain to visit Dalin — as part of ongoing research into who and what louhans are in Buddhism. This time, Fushou’s doors were open, and there was a red and yellow banner over the entrance. Cars were parked there. I parked my bike and I walked in.

Unlike Dalin and Bailong, nobody was at the door to collect an entrance fee. I have seen this in temples around Changzhou when they are attempting to focus more as a place of worship and less as a tourist destination. As I walked around the temple grounds, one other thing just reinforced this. I passed by the main hall and heard chanting and a drum. I stopped to peer in. However, whenever I hear religious activity in progress, I tend to leave it alone. So, I didn’t enter that hall. Half an hour later, as I was leaving, I noticed the door to that big altar hall had been closed.

IMG_20160716_163217[1]

One of the most intriguing things, however, was not that shut entrance. Fushou Temple is the home to three large golden statues. There is also a room of what looked to be white-jade sculptures — one of which is a reclining Buddha. In this building, I climbed a set of stairs to the second level and found an empty space. Still, I was able to get a good shot of the three gold statues from behind.

IMG_20160716_163532[1]

The empty space reminded me of something else about Fushou. A lot of it seems to be renovation in progress. This isn’t like what you see at neighboring Dalin Temple, where new additions like an underground parking lot is being added. This looked like Fushou’s main facilities are getting an upgrade. After all, there was a cement mixer laying out in the open, as well as large stacks of concrete tiles. This puts the temple, like so many other places around Changzhou, on my “to watch list.” With a lot of facilities under renovation, this place could look completely different in one year. My guess, though, is that the three statues will remain.

IMG_20160716_163915[1]

 

Dalin Temple

IMG_20160522_110605

Dalin 大林寺 is a Buddhist temple located in Wujin’s northeastern arm between Xinbei and Wuxi’s satellite city Jiangyin. The English and Chinese language marker at the entrance claims the temple is roughly about a 1000 years old, but Baidu’s version of Wikipedia notes the place was severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution.

This is a standard sort of temple with altars and depictions of Buddha and Bodhisattvas , but it also has a pagoda and few halls. One building showcases hundreds of colorful lohan / arhat sculptures. Also typical of many temples in Changzhou, there is ongoing construction going on to add a new facility.

Geographically speaking, Changzhou tends to be flat, but Dalin is located on one of the two “mountains” in the Dragon City. The word “mountain” is more of a misnomer. They are actually just big hills. Dalin Temple itself is located at the foot of Qingming Mountain 青明山. The area itself is being developed as a massive cultural attraction. Bailong Monastery 白龙观 is literally around the corner, which is an equally large Daoist / Taoist religious site. Since this is a far corner of Changzhou, both places should be combined into one day trip. Entry into both places cost 10 RMB, each.

IMG_20160522_110818