August 27, 2009

 

 

The time-honored Xiangguo Temple lies in the downtown area of Kaifeng, the Capital of Seven Dynasties, which was once the most prosperous city in the world, and is a historical and cultural ancient city now.
The magnificent Grand Xiangguo Temple plays an important role in Chinese Buddhism. The Temple is said to have been the residence of Prince Wuji (also called Xin Lin Jun) in the Wei State of the Warring Period. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the war and never rebuilt until the 2nd year of Jingyun in the Period of the Tang Dynasty (711A.D).The Emperor Ruizong of the Tang Dynasty renamed the Temple “Xiangguo” and inscribed the name himself in A.D. 712 in order to celebrate his ascension to the throne.
The Peak period of the Xiangguo Temple was during the Tang and Song Dynasty, especially in the Northern Song Dynasty when it became the top Temple in China, in terms of its scale and magnificent constructions: it covers an area of 33 hectares including 64 Zen courtyards and other branches under its administration, housing more than one thousand monks. Its complex buildings were recorded as the most splendid ones in the world, with its abbots given titles by emperors. As the imperial Temple then, Xiangguo Temple also served as a place for imperial activities, such as, the celebrations of the emperor’s birthday, blessings, or burning incense for worship, even the ceremony to sanction successful candidates for theimperial examination. As the Northern Song Dynasty came to an end, the Temple was destroyed by the Jin troops. And the flourishing Temple was doomed to bad luck in the succeeding dynasties, in spite of being repaired and renovated several times. All main buildings in the Temple today were built in the Qing Dynasty, and appear compact in the pattern of its spacious and grand halls. It is really worthy of the reputation as one of the top ancient Temples in China.

August 27, 2009

As a famous scenic spot in the northern part of Kaifeng, the Dragon Pavilion actually is not a pavilion but a great hall built on a huge gray brick base of 13 meters in height. The park, centered with the Dragon Pavilion, is the largest sightseeing zone in Kaifeng City, with an area of more than 80 hectares, over half of which is covered with beautiful lakes and rivers.
The Dragon Pavilion was once a part of the imperial palace of the Northern Song Dynasty, built on the site of a waste coal hill in the back garden of the former “Prince Zhou’s Mansion”. In the 16th year (1659) of the Emperor Shunzhi Period of the Qing Dyansty, the imperial memorial hall was established; in the 31st year (1692) of the Emperor Kangxi Period, a memorial tablet of the emperor was placed in the newly built pavilion on the coal hill for both the provincial officials to greet and pay their respect on important occasions. Since emperors in ancient China were regarded as the incarnation of real dragons, the pavilion was titled as the Dragon Pavilion, and was the main building in the Longevity Palace. With fine carved fences and dragon patterns around, the Great Hall of the Dragon Pavilion is reached by a set of 50 steps, with the imperial walkway in the center, which was carved with a majestic dragon. In the center of the main hall, there was a stone dais decorated with dragon patterns, which was said to be the imperial chair of Zhao Kuangyin, the founder of the Song Dynasty. Actually, it was where the memorial tablets of the emperors were placed.
During the renovation of those relics, the beatification of the park had been given much attention, thus lots of gardens and pavilions were built. The leading gardens are the Fangsen miniature Garden, the plum garden, and the Tongchun orchard, in which grow peach, cherry, Chinese redbud, pomegranate, cinnamon, winter sweet blossom, and many other blooming trees.
In the west wing under the steps of the main hall is the first waxworks museum in China, with an exhibition area of 410㎡.