Exploring Western Hill Forest Park – A Marvel of Chinese History!

Dragon Gate in Western Hill Forest Park

Dragon Gate in Western Hill Forest Park by maveric2003, on Flickr

Today on the GoAbroad Blog, we feature a second guest post from international education professional, Tom Hopkins, of Minds Abroad! If you’re on the lookout to learn about interesting places in China, the Western Hill Forest Park is not to be missed! This unique and historical treasure boasts everything from natural landscapes to ancient temples, and Tom discusses why it holds such allure to world explorers!

Would you add the Western Hill Forest Park to your “must-see” travel list? Also, make sure to see Tom’s first post on one of China’s other architectural marvels – the Bamboo Temple!

Unforgettable Western Hill Forest Park is a Traveler’s Delight

A little farther from the city of Kunming lays the Western Hill Forest Park. This is a majestic getaway that has been the summer home of rulers of the area for more than 800 years. Several dynasties that lived here have left their mark. The major attractions of the place are the Taoist temples that were built by the monks and influenced by the rulers. The place itself was almost inaccessible had it not been for the effort of workers who toiled for 72 years to create a pathway to these mountains.

What is Special about Western Hill Forest Park?

The Western Hill Forest Park is 7.5 miles away from Kunming. As one approaches it from afar, the hills look like a silhouette of a human being that is lying on its back. Popular perception suggests that this is the silhouette of Buddha himself. This belief has also stemmed from the fact that it is a renowned Taoist region which features the Dragon Gate, an architecture that has made this area exceedingly famous.

Lake Dianchi in Western Hill Forest Park

Overlooking Lake Dianchi by maveric2003, on Flickr

The Western Hill Forest Park is located on the Green Peacock Mountain. This exotic name of the mountain accurately depicts its lush vegetation. This location is also in the vicinity of the Dianchi Lake which again has been aptly named as the “Pearl of the Plateau”. This region has been known as one of the most beautiful places in China since the era of the Ming dynasty 400 years ago. Today it has been preserved to maintain the aura it had had all those earlier centuries. The region is one of the four places known for their natural beauty. The other three are Xiushan Mountain (Beauty Mountain) in Tonghai County Yuxi City, WeibaoShan Mountain (Treasure Mountain) in Weishan County Dali Prefecture and Jizu Shan Mountain (Chick Feet Mountain).   Students who are learning Chinese in China or even participating in Chinese summer programs would find visiting the Western Forest Hill Park an exceedingly refreshing experience.

The four main scenic spots in these mountains are Huating Temple, Sangqing Temple, Dragon Gate and the tomb of Nei. The Huating temple has been built at a height of 6275 feet above the sea level. This temple was constructed by a local monk called Xu Yun in the 1920’s. The architecture follows the “seven guardian building” style that was a popular historical format of construction in China at that time. This building is one of the most magnificent monasteries built in Kunming. What is surprising is the persistence of the monks who built this magnificent architectural monastery at such a great height.

If the Huating Temple surprises the visitors, then the Sanqing temple stores an even bigger surprise for them. It is constructed at an even greater height and the building site is a steep cliff on the Louhan Mountain. This is the area where different rulers from different eras in Chinese history spent their summers. It has since become one of the biggest temple complexes of Taoist buildings in the country.

Last but not the least is the Dragon Gate, which stands majestically atop a mountain height of almost 8000 feet. It offers a magnificent view of the Diachi Lake. The path to this point was constructed by hand over a period of 72 years. The region has the artworks which comprise some of the most vivid and artistic carvings of Taoist deities. A trip to the place has become a part of the Chinese language programs.

Taking part in student travel to Kunming in China during a gap year or while study overseas will offer opportunities to visit the Western Hill Forest Park, as well as many other such wonderful places in China!

Tom Hopkins works for Minds Abroad and is an informed counselor on study abroad language programs and travel information in China. For more information on year round program, summer programs and excursions to places of cultural and historical interest to which we take our students, visit www.mindsabroad.com

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