Kunming, City of Perpetual Spring

Less than three hours’plane ride from Beijing will take you to Kunming capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

Kunming is situated l,894 meters above sea lever, on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Surrounded by green mountains, the city has a temperature around 28 degree centigrade(82. 4F)all year round and is known as the city of perpetual spring. Kunming is uniquely multi-national Walk down the street at any time and you will meet people dressed in a variety of national minority costumes, making the city all the more picturesque. More than two thousand years old, Kunming has numerous places of historical interest.

Grand View Park on the western outskirts overlooks Dianchi Lake. Grand View Hail, built in 1696 and commanding an excellent view of she lake, gives the park its name. Fancy again steps in, the rolling Western Hills across the lake being compared view from Grand View Hail has inspired no few verses from the brushes of Chinese poets. These lines can be found inscribed in and around the Hall, the most outstanding being a couplet written by Sun Ran, a poverty-stricken intellectual of Kunming during the reign of Qian Long of the Qing dynasty. At the entrance to the Hall is his 180 character couplet describing the beauty ef Kunming on one side of the gate and the history of Yunnan ~m the other. This couplet is rare in China for its length and beauty.

Dianchi Lake covering 13o square kilometers is the sixth largest freshwater lake in the country. Poets have compared it to a pearl.

The seven-kilometer road up the Western Hills runs past ancient temples and age-old trees, all of which are protected. The Fragrance of flowers and twitter of birds are everywhere. Suddenly your vehicle is stopped by a boulder in the road and the rest of the climb must be made on foot. Should you count the steps, you will find there are 1,333 from the boulder to the peak. A group of ancient buildings may beckon you to pause. These were tile summer resort of a local ruler during the Yuan dynasty. Its construction began in the 14th century, with buildings subsequently added. Built against the mountain, the structures are grand in concept and architecturally superb.

To reach the summit you must negotiate zigzag stone paths and low-roofed tunnels to arrive at a satone arch called Dragon Gate, Here are several stone chambers known as the Pavilion Leading to Heaven, or alternately, Kulxing Pavilion. Kuixing is a fabled figure said to be the muse of literature. Every path, tunnel, chamber, balustrade and terrace ,was chiselled out of sculptures including a brilliant image of Kulxing with his servants and horses. Drifting clouds, fanciful cranes and peaches are carved on the ceilings, nil incredibly lifelike and fine. This prodigious stonework was undertaken during the Qing dynasty by a Taoist priest named Wu Laiqing, together with some local stone masons. The work went on for 72 years, from 1781 to 1853; the sculptors suspended by ropes, so that the toil involved in chipping off a basketful of .stone made it worth a basketful sheer cliffside with the lake below is bound to impress.

The 13th-century Qiongzhu Temple, the most famous ancient Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province, is just northwest of here. As you enter the temple gate, two 500-year old peacock cy presses still growing vigorously immediately catch your attention. One of the halls houses a most interesting group sculpture of five hundred disciples of Buddha done more than ninety years.