Kunming,City of Perpetual Spring 昆明

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Kunming -- City of Perpetual Spring

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan Province, and was founded more than 2,400 years ago as the gateway to the celebrated Silk Road. It was an important conduit for trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar, and India. Located in central Yunnan, north of the Dianchi Basin, Kunming is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with one side opening onto the Dianchi Lake.

Known in China as the City of Eternal Spring, Kunming is favored by both domestic and foreign tourists alike because of the mild climate, clean air, various ethnic minority cultures, and exotic greenery. Kunming has a year-round average temperature of 15 oC (59oF) due to its special geographical conditions. An ideal climate prevails for 90 percent of the year- perpetual springlike weather. The spring months here are the season of lowers; summer is cool and pleasant; autumn brings a bit of rain and the fragrance of osmanthus and chrysanthemums; and winter is once again springlike while when North China is a world of ice and snow. Under a blue sky occasionally dotted with white clouds, and with its elegant plum branches, red camellias, white magnolias, and yellow primroses, Kunming is truly a delightful tourist attraction in all seasons.

Although Kunming is not the final destination for many travelers arriving in Yunnan, it has a lot to offer visitors. To get a feeling for the rich cultural and historical heritage there, the Golden Temple Park and the Bamboo Temple are essential stops on any visitor's itinerary. The city also boasts numerous natural attractions such as the Stone Forest, which is world famous for its breathtaking beauty. Other major scenic spots are Dianchi Lake, Cuihu Lake, the Village of Ethnic Culture, the Golden Temple Park, the Western Mountain Forest Reserve, the Jiuxiang Scenic Belt, Yuantong Mountain, the Grand View Pavilion, and the Qiongzhu Temple.
Must-see Attractions:

Yuantong Temple
Built at the foot of Yuantong Hill during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368),this is one of the ancient temples of Kunming. An octagonal pavilion stands in the middle of the Clear Water Pool (Hongqingchi) and is joined with the bank by a stone bridge, which leads to the south gate, where an archway is inscribed with the bank by a stone bridge, which leads to the south gate, where an archway is inscribed with the four Chinese characters Yuan Tong Sheng Jing -- Holy Land of Yuantong. Behind the temple steps lead to the top of Yuantong Hill where there are four pavilions where visitors can take a panoramic view at the city with its wisps of smoke, twinkling lights, and beautiful Dianchi Lake in the distance. On the other side of the hill a zoological park, the largest park in Kunming, houses more than a hundred kinds of wild animals.

Golden Hall (Jindian)
Also called Supreme Harmony Palace or Parrot Temple, Golden Hall was built on Singing Pheonix Hill (Mingfengshan) in 1671 during the Qing Dynasty. The name Golden Hall actually refers to the temple's North Pole Hall (Beijidian), which was constructed entirely of cast bronze, including its pillars, beams, roof tiles, arched doors and windows, statues, and incense burners. Weighing a hundred tons altogether, the hall is one of the largest bronze objects existing in China today.

Bamboo Temple (Luzhuchansi)
An old legend says that during ancient times, the king of the Dali Kingdom and his brother once went hunting and spotted a rhinoceros. But when they chased it to Jade Table Hill (Yu'anshan), the animal disappeared. In its stead, they saw a group of monks, each holding a bamboo stick. When the king was about to ask them the whereabouts of the rhinoceros, the monks too disappeared, leaving only their bamboo sticks behind. The next day, the sticks had taken root in the ground, and they grew into a grove of dense bamboos. The King ordered a temple to be built on the spot.
In fact, the temple at the foot of Jade Table Hill was built at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and was reconstructed in 1885 during the Qing Dynasty. There are five hundred arhat sculptures in the temple.

Dianchi Lake and Western Hill
Dianchi Lake, lying south of Kunming City and covering an area of more than three hundred square kilometers, is the largest lake on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. With its shimmering water, sailboats, and adjacent rice fields, the lake is a favorite attraction for visitors.
Western Hill forms a delightful contrast with Dianchi Lake. Stretching along the west bank of the lake, the wooded hill looks somewhat like a reclining beauty. People in Kunming call it "Sleeping Beauty Hill." Legend has it that in ancient times, there was a young woman whose husband was taken by the local chieftain and sent away as slave. She thought of her husband day and night and wept such copious tears that they became Dianchi Lake, while she herself lay down and became Western Hill. The hill is a pleasant place for a stroll beside the picturesque lake.

Grand view Tower (Daguanlou)
Between Kunming Temple and Dianchi Lake there is a large and beautiful park built in 1682 during the Qing Dynasty. Its lovely gardens and buildings have won for it the name of "Lesser West Lake." Grand View Tower commands a panoramic view of Dianchi Lake, with the charming Sleeping Beauty Hill in the far distance.

Three Purity Tower (Sanqingge)
This tower and Dragon Gate are the most magnificent scenic sights in Kunming. The Three Purity Tower seems suspended in midair on the steep Arhat Cliff. From a distance, it looks like a jade tower in heaven. More than a thousand stone steps lead from the tower to Dianchi Lake; the cliff is therefore also called Thousand Steps Cliff (Qianhuya). From the top of Three Purity Tower the boats on Dianchi Lake look like mere specks.

Dragon Gate
Few people who have got as far as Three Purity Tower would give up the opportunity to climb the Dragon Gate. The gate was built during the Qing Dynasty by a poor Taoist priest, Wu Laiqing, and his friends, using simple tools. It consists of three stone chambers chiseled out of the cliffs and connected by a spiraling passageway that allows only one person to pass at a time. The passage ends at the Pavilion Leading to Heaven (Datiange). A stone archway was built at eh entrance with the inscription Long Men (Dragon Gate) at the top. The view of Dianchi Lake below is a thrilling sight from this breathtaking building on the cliff.

Stone Forest
The Stone Forest, located 126 kilometers southeast of Kunming in the Lunan Yu Autonomous County, has the typical karst topography (area of limestone terrain) according to geologists.

Flower and Bird Market
The Flowers and Birds Market, located on Jingxing Street in Kunming, is the city's biggest, most popular shopping area. Since 1983, the Flowers and Birds Market has developed into a center for entertainment, shopping and trading.
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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 June 2009 10:45 )  

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