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Taiyuan City of Shanxi Province
Taiyuan City

Taiyuan, provincial capital and industrial sprawl often shrouded in fog, is more cosmopolitan than its northen neighbour Datong and a decent place to await onward connections.

The first settlements on the site of today¡¯s Taiyuan date back 2500 years. By the 13th century it had developed into what Marco Polo referred to as ¡°a prosperous city, a great center of trade and industry¡±. But it was also the site of constant armed conflict, sitting squarely on the path by which successive northern invaders entered China. There were once 27 temples here dedicated to the God of War.


Jinci Temple

Jinci Temple is situated at the foot of the Xuanweng Mountain to the southwest of Taiyuan. It is one of the most valuable historical relics under special control of the State. Jinci Temple was first built in the Bei Wei Dynasty (386-534) in memory of Shuyu, the second son of Zhouwu kingdom. The temple is famous for its garden of traditional buildings. It has many halls, pavilions, and towers.

A canal cuts through the temple complex, spanned by the Huixian {Meet the Immortal} Bridge, providing access to the Terrace for Iron Statues, which display figures cast in AD 1097.

Futher back is the Goddess Mother Hall, the oldest wooden building in the city and home to 42 Song dynasty clay figures of maidservants of the sacred lady, said to be the mother of Prince Shuyu of the ancient Zhou dynasty. Adjacent is the Zhou Cypress, an unusual tree growing at an angle of about 30¡ãfor the last 900 years.

Zhenguan Baohan Pavillion houses four stone stelae ( a decorated stone slab or column) inscribed with the handwriting of the Tang emperor Tai Zong. In the south of the temple grounds is the Sacred Relics Pagoda, a 7th-century seven- storey octagonal building.

How to get there: take bus NO.804 from Taiyuan¡¯s train station
Opening hours: 08:00-17:00

Twin Pagoda Temple
Twin Pagoda Temple, also called as Yongzuo Temple, was first built in 1608 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). This temple has two Ming dynasty pagodas, each a 13-storey octagonal structure almost 55m high. It is possible to climb one of the pagodas, but it is only recommended for these who enjoy dark, slippery spiral stairs. The pagodas are built entirely of gray bricks carved with brackets and cornices to imitate ancient Chinese wooden pagodas, which has proved useful in saving them from the destructive fires that have destroyed many of this type of temple in the past. Of these gray buildings, the most worthy of a look in is one on the eastern side of the temple, which contains a rare collection of steles bearing the works of famed calligraphers from various dynasties. The best time to visit the temple is during April for this is the blooming season for the peony trees that have sat here since the Ming Dynasty.

How to get there: From the city center, take bus No.21. or take a taxi
Opening hours: 08:00-17:00.

Chongshan Temple

This Buddhist monastery was built on the site of a monastery that is said to date back to the 6th or 7th century. The main hall contains three impressive statues; the central figure is Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy with 1000 hands and eyes.

Also on display are some Buddhist scriptures of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The monastery is on a side street running east off Wuyi Lu.

How to get there: The temple lies just to the back of the Provincial Museum.
Opening hours: 08:00-17:00

Shanxi Provincial Museum

The Shanxi Provincial Museum (Shanxi sheng bowuguan) houses a large collection of exhibits that attempt to detail the history and culture of this famous province. The museum itself is a large, ancient complex that is built in traditional style, with courtyards encircled by buildings of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) type. The museum is divided into two parts.

The original site where part 1 now lies used to be occupied by the Confucius Temple (Kong miao) that was built in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD). The exhibition halls here all still retain there original names, with rooms such as the Hall of Great Success (Dacheng dian) and the Memorial Hall (Chongsheng ci) now housing an array of artifacts. Part 1 concentrates more on the provinces early history as one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization, although there are a number of photographs and artifacts highlighting Shanxi¡®s more recent history. The older objects (some neolithic) were mostly excavated or removed from ancient tombs and ruins.

The second part of the museum, probably the more interesting of the two, used to be called Chunyang Palace (Chunyang gong) and was a temple where people offered sacrifice and paid tribute to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) Taoist priest, Lu Dongbin. Housed in the halls here are collections of historical literature, as well as all kinds of ancient cultural relics, including Shang Dynasty bronzes, ceramics, carvings & embroidery, that were unearthed in the province. The palace itself was built by the early 1600s, but was renovated and restored a number of times in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD).

Address: Part 1 is just off Jianshe beilu, northeast of Wuyi Square (Wuyi guangchang); Part 2 lies on Qifeng jie, a little way northwest of the square.

How to get there: From the railway station, bus No.5 goes directly there.
Opening hours: 08:00-17:00.


Mount Wutai also known as Wutai Mountain, located in Shanxi, China, is one of the Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism.Each of the four mountains are viewed as the abode or place of practice (d¨¤och¨¢ng) of one of the four great bodhisattvas.Wutai is the home of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri or Wenshu (Traditional) in Chinese.

It takes its name from its unusual topography, consisting of five rounded peaks (North, South, East, West, Central), of which the North peak, called Beitai Ding or Yedou Feng, is the highest, and indeed the highest point in northern China.

Wutai was the first of the four mountains to be identified and is often referred to as "first among the four great mountains." It was identified on the basis of a passage in the Avatamsaka Sutra (Ch: H¨²ay¨¢n j¨©ng), which describes the abodes of many bodhisattvas. In this chapter, Manjusri is said to reside on a "clear cold mountain" in the northeast. This served as charter for the mountains identity and its alternate name "Clear Cool Mountain" ( Q¨©ngli¨¢ng Sh¨¡n).

The bodhisattva is believed to frequently manifest himself on the mountain, taking the form of ordinary pilgrims, monks, or most often unusual five-colored clouds.

Mount Wutai is home to some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618¨C907). This includes the main hall of Nanchan Monastery and the East Hall of Fuguang Monastery, built in 782 and 857, respectively. They were discovered in 1937 and 1938 by a team of architectural historians including the prominent early 20th century historian Liang Sicheng. The architectural designs of these buildings have since been studied by leading sinologists and experts in traditional Chinese architecture, such as Nancy Steinhardt. Steinhardt classified these buildings according to the hall types featured in the Yingzao Fashi Chinese building manual written in the 12th century.

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