Chengdu Tourist Attractions

ChengduChengdu

Chengdu lies in an important rice and wheat-growing region in the center of the province of Sichuan.

Chengdu was the capital of the Shu (Zhou) kingdom which was conquered by the Qin in 316 BC. Under the Qin and Han dynasty (221 BC to AD 220) it advanced to become the political, economic and cultural center of southwest China. Even at that time the breeding of silkworms and weaving of brocade were already highly developed industries.

Temple of Prince Wu

The first temple was built by a Li Xiong in 302 in honor of Zhuge Liang (181-234), strategist and statesman famous until the present day, who was also chancellor of the Shu Han empire (221-263). For his services Zhuge Liang was made a Prince (Marquis) in 223. This temple, which was rebuilt in 1672, is situated in the southwest of Chengdu.
In the central hall stands a gilded clay figure of Zhuge Liang, in front of which are three bronze drums dating from before the 6th C BC. The two small figures on either side of the Prince are of his son and grandson.
There is also a temple here dedicated to Liu Bei, the ruler of the Shu Han empire. To the west of it lies the 12m/40ft high burial mound which contains his last remains. Twenty-eight terracotta statues of ministers, generals and high officials of the state of Shu Han are displayed in the east and west covered walks. In front of each statue is a small stele inscribed with details of the life of the person concerned.

Manjushri Temple

The Manjushri Temple in the north of the town covers an area of 5ha/12.5acres. The complex comprises five temples in wood and stone, and was built in 1691 above the ruins of an earlier monastery dating from the time of the Southern Dynasties (420-589). The Hall of Shuofa Tang houses ten iron statues of Buddhist guardian gods from the Song period (960-1279) and in the Cangjing Lou are to be found more than 100 bronze sculptures of Buddhas and Buddhist saints from the Qing era (1644-1911).
Daci Si, in Dongfeng Lu Street, dated originally from the Tang period (618-907), but the present buildings are of the Tongzhi period (1862-74). At one time the temple was decorated with some valuable wall paintings.

Du Fu's Cottage

The house of Du Fu, the famous poet of the Tang dynasty, will be found in the west of the town on a bend of the Huanhuaxi river. However, this is not the original thatched building in which Du Fu lived for four years from 759 to 763, because that one did not survive the poet for long. The buildings which the visitor will see today are replicas in stone and wood dating from 1500 and 1811 which were restored in 1949.
The complex comprises several sections which portray the life and work of Du Fu. Adjoining it is a beautiful park with little bridges, pavilions and a garden of bamboo.

Mosque

Chengdu's important mosque, south of the bell-tower in the old town, was partially destroyed in a Japanese air-raid in 1941.
The prayer hall, 15.7m/51ft long and 11.7m/38ft wide and covered in enameled tiles, remains intact.
''Seventh year of the empire of Qianlong'' is the inscription on a beam in the building which indicates the year of construction: 1742.

Wangjianglou Park

The park became well-known through the famous poetess Xue Tao (769-834), who lived here. In the park stands the four-storied 30m/100ft high Tower of the View of the River (Wangjianglou). A few yards away the visitor can see a fountain from the Tang period (618-907); the famous poetess is said to have used its water to produce the red paper she used and which still bears her name. In the park stand several buildings, all of which are in her memory; these include the Tower of Poetic Recitation (Yinshi Lou), the Pavilion of the Washing of Paper (Wanjian Ting) and the Tower of the Washing of Brocade (Zhou Lou). She was particularly fond of bamboo plants, and a grove of 140 different species of bamboo was laid out in her memory.

Tomb of Wang Jian

Known as ''The Eternal Mausoleum'' (Yong Ling), the well-preserved Tomb of Wang Jian (847-918), ruler of the Early Shu empire, lies in the northwest of the town. The 15m/50ft high building, divided into three chambers, was opened up in 1942. In the central chamber will be found the king's artistically decorated sarcophagus, and in the chamber behind it is a stone statue of Wang Jian.

Cultural Park

In the Cultural Park (Wenhua Gongyuan) in the west of the town stands the old Taoist Qinyang Temple, which dates from the Tang period (618-907). The present buildings are of the Qing period (1644-1911). Note the Pavilion of the Eight Trigrams (Bagua Ting) with its eight stone pillars on which are carved dragon patterns, etc.

Giant Panda Breeding Research Base

The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is located in Chengdu and is home to at least 12 pandas. There is a museum that features the reproductive problems of the bears. It is recommended that visitors come for viewings during feeding time in the morning, otherwise the pandas are generally sleeping.
Address: 26 Panda Road, China

Jianmen Shudao

Jianmen Pass (Jianmen Guan) and the Sichuan Road (Shudao) were once the most direct routes to Sichuan during ancient times. Along the way are many historical and cultural sites. The pass it noted for the steep slopes that fall within a range of 72 peaks.

Surroundings

Mount Emeishan

The highest peak of Mount Emeishan stands at almost 3100 m. A number of old temples are located on the mountain, some of which can be seen on the trails leading to the higher elevations.

Dujiangyan Irrigation System

The irrigation system to be found near the town of Guanxian on the upper reaches of the Minjian river, 55km/34mi northwest of Chengdu, was constructed in 250 BC by Li Bing, prefect of Sichuan at the time of the Warring Kingdoms, in order to prevent catastrophic flooding. He ordered the river to be divided up by means of earth dams, with one section branching out into tributaries and canals which served to irrigate the fields. The whole complex is made up of the ''Fish's Jaws'' (Yuzhui), which functions as a watershed and dike, the weir known as ''Flying Sands'' (Feisha Yan) and the canal, the ''Neck of the Precious Bottle'' (Baoping Kou). This ingenious system has meant that the Minjian has never again flooded its banks during the last 2200 years, and the Chengdu Plain of central Sichuan has become one of China's most fertile regions.

Wolong Nature Reserve

Covering an area of 2000sq.km/770sq.mi, this nature reserve lies some 130km/80mi west of Chengdu. Surrounded by mountains more than 5000m/1930ft high, the reserve is home to 60 different types of mammals, including pandas and snub-nosed apes, 300 kinds of birds and 4000 species of plants, including giant redwood trees. A research station has been set up here to study the habits of pandas.

Monastery of Precious Light

The Monastery of Precious Light (Baoguang Si) is to be found in Xindu, a small town 18km/11mi northeast of Chengdu. It is thought to date from the Han dynasty (24-220). More than twenty buildings (a pagoda, five temples and sixteen courtyards), almost all of which were constructed in 1670, are scattered over an area of 8ha/20acres. The 13-story Sarira Pagoda (Sheli Ta) from the Tang period (618-907) has survived. Archaeologically valuable items on display include a stone tablet with 1000 Buddha reliefs (AD 540) and 500 larger-than-life terracotta statues from the Qing period (1644-1911), which depict Luohans in an individual manner.

Mount Qingchengshan

16km/10mi southwest of the Dujiangyan irrigation complex soars Mount Qingchengshan, with its 37 peaks. It is one of China's Taoist pilgrimage shrines. Some impressive palaces, towers and pavilions are scattered over this scenically beautiful mountain.

Palace of the Creation of Good Fortune

At the foot of Mount Qingchengshan stands the Taoist Palace of the Creation of Good Fortune (Jianfu Gong), which dates back to the Tang period (618-907). The present buildings were erected in 1888.

Cave of the Heavenly Master

Cave of the Heavenly Master (Tianshi Dong) is where Zhang Daoling, the legendary founder of the Taoist religion, taught in a cave in Mount Qingchengsahn. The temple dates from the Sui period (589-618), but was rebuilt at the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Visitors can see a terracotta likeness of Zhang Daoling and three 90cm/3ft statues dating from 723 and representing Fuxi, Shengong and Xianyuan, three rulers said to lived in China in prehistoric times.

Temple of the Utmost Purity

Built between 1860 and 1870, the Temple of the Utmost Purity (Shangqing Gong) stands majestically on the Laoxiao Ding mountain peak. It replaced a much older 3rd C building which burned down in the mid-17th C.

Temple of the Slayer of the Dragon

At the northern tip of a small island in the river, on a mound at the mouth of the ''Neck of the Precious Bottle'' canal, stands another building of historic importance, the Temple of the Slayer of the Dragon (Fulong Guan). According to legend, the reason the Minjiang river had flooded its banks so often was that a wicked dragon had its lair in the waters. Li Bing and his son succeeded in chaining the dragon so that there was no longer any fear of floods. It is uncertain when the first temple was built here in honor of the slayer of the dragon; it is only known that the present building dates from the Qing period (1644-1911). The impressive stone statue of Li Bing dates from the year 168; it stands 2m/9.5ft) high, weighs 4.5 tonnes, and was salvaged from the river in 1974. An inscription on the breast shows the year and month in which it was sculpted.

Huanglong (Yellow Dragon)

The national park of Huanglong (Yellow Dragon), situated north of Chengdu in the southern Mingshan mountains near the town of Songpan, was established in 1983 and declared a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992. The park is a high-lying valley surrounded by the snow-covered mountains of Sichuan. Its main attractions are the terraced, crystal-clear ponds that shine in amazing colored lights caused by algae, bacteria and reflections. A 9km/14mi footpath leads to the Huanglong temple after which the park has been named. The Five Color Ponds next to the temple, with their blaze of color caused by minerals, are very popular with visitors.

Jiuzhaigou Valley (Valley of the Nine Villages)

The Jiuzhaigou Valley (Valley of the Nine Villages), 110km/176mi north of Huanglong, was also declared a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992. It is characterized by wooded slopes and deep valleys, but here too the main attraction are the 108 crystal-clear ponds. The scenery is most impressive during the autumn when the leaves are changing color. A large variety of plants and animals live in the valley thanks to its abundance of water.

Shunan Bamboo Sea

The Shunan Bamboo Sea is a massive bamboo forest located south of Chengdu that is environmentally protected by the Chinese government. The area is fairly remote but attracts visitors for the beautiful scenery and the panda bear sightings.
Within the forest are temples, the Bamboo Sea Museum, and old folk residences.

Temple of the Two Kings

On Mount Yulaishan, on the east bank of Minjiang, can be seen the imposing Temple of the Two Kings (Erwang Miao), built in the Qing period (1644-1911) on the ruins of an earlier 6th C edifice. Statues of the creators of the irrigation system, Li Bing and his son Li Erlang, stand in the halls of the temple.

Leshan, China

Leshan is a small town some 120km/75mi south of Chengdu, at the western foot of Mount Lingyunshan.

Great Buddha of Leshan

This colossal stone statue of Maitreya is to be seen in Leshan. 71m/230ft high, it was carved out of the bare rock. A Buddhist monk by the name of Haitong was the first to work on it, from 713 until his death. After that a number of other monks and artists continued the mammoth task until it was eventually completed in 803. The figure is the largest sculpture of the Buddha to be found anywhere in the world.

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