Yunnan Travel Guide: Dali Historic Sites

Ancient Dali City Dali Foreigner Street

The thousand-year-old city, located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain, used to be the capital of Nanzhao (649-902) and Dali (937-1253) states. Its long history and culture has earned the name of “famous place for historical documents” for it. Historic sites include Three Pagodas in Chongsheng Temple, Site of Ancient City of Taihe and Dehua Stele of Nanzhao. The ancient city dotted by residential houses of Bai people, looks quiet, simple and unsophisticated. Dali Foreigner Street has become famous at home and abroad.

Three Pagodas in Chongsheng Temple Three Pagodas in Chongsheng Temple

The Three Pagodas, located at the foot of Yingle Peak, Cangshan Mountain, 1 kilometer northwest of the ancient city of Dali, were built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They are the most grandiose among the pagodas in south China. The splendid and momentum Chongsheng Temple behind the pagodas is the biggest monomeric building among the Buddhist temples in China.

Site of Ancient City of Taihe Site of Ancient City of Taihe

Taihe City was the political and economic center of early days of Nanzhao State (649-902) and became the capital of Nanzhao State in 739. The site lies on the foot of Heding Peak, west of Taihe Village, Qiliqiao Township of Dali. Jingang City and the north and south city walls on the top of Canghshan Mountain still exist today. The distance between the south wall and north wall is 500 meters. Taihe City was a strategic point with Canghshan Mountain in the west and Erhai Lake in the east. The famous Dehua Stele of Nanzhao with a height of 3.02 meters, width of 2.27 meters and thickness of 0.58 meter, was erected in the city during the Tang Dynasty.

Butterfly Spring Dali Butterfly Spring

A crystal spring flows from green groves at the foot of Yunnong Peak of Cangshan Mountain, 25 kilometers north of the Ancient Dali City. In the hearts of young men and women of Bai Ethnic Group the spring is the symbol of loyal love. On the fifteenth of the fourth lunar month every year they will gather here to look for lovers by singing. At that time thousands upon thousands butterflies fly here from far and near, dancing in the air, really a marvelous spectacle. Butterflies are provided here for people to set free. Young people who have fallen in love would like to come here to express their loyalty to love.

Ancient Xizhou Town of Bai Ancient Xizhou Town of Bai

Located at Xizhou Town of Dali the town was the earliest site for Bai tribe to stay in Erhai area. The residential houses in Xizhou have a distinctive feature with flower and bird carvings on doors and windows and the base of the building is built of black stone. Yan Family Courtyard in Xizhou is a typical example of residential houses of Bai people and merchants culture of Xizhou.

Huadianba Dali Hudianba

Huadianba means flatland of flowers in Bai language. This scenic spot, located at the west back of Yunnong Peak and Canglang Peak, is a fault highland basin accumulated under the effect of Quaternary Period glaciers with an elevation of 2,900 meters and running from south to north. It covers an area of 12 square kilometers with a length of 7 kilometers and width of 1-2 kilometers. It has abundant water sources and damp and fertile soil, belonging to mountainous grassy marshland. On its west are the soaring peaks with crisscross streams running between them. Azalea and wild bamboo bushes spread all over the mountains, among them the yellow azalea is famed for its elegance and gorgeousness. In winter the mountains are covered by white snow and the flatland is also filled with thick snow, a nice place for people to enjoy snow scenery.

Ancient Fengyu Town Ancient Fengyu Town

The town is located at southwest of Eryuan County. Xu Xiake (1587-1641), a famous traveler and geographer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) praised it as “heaven of peaceful and happy life”. Fengyu used to be a key post station on the ancient tea road. Residential houses of Bai people, simple and unsophisticated, scatter all over the town. The town looks unique with its slabstone alleys and flowing limpid streams. The age-old buildings along the streets and pagodas form distinctive features of the town and are of comparatively high historical and architectural value, adding special beauty for the ancient town.

Shuimushan Temple Pagoda Forest in Shuimushan

The temple in Xiangyun County was built in 813 and legend has it that it was the sacred place for Buddhist disciples to cultivate themselves and improve their attainments, known as the “No. 1 Buddhist Temple in Yunnan”. More than 50 Buddhist pagodas on the right mound of the temple remain intact, forming the most grandiose pagoda forest in Yunnan. The Buddhist holy flesh sarira, seldom seen in the world, has been found in the underground palace of the pagoda forest.

Yunnan Post Station Flying Tigers

Xiangyun County, also known as ancient Yunnan, is the bridgehead for the introduction of the culture of Central China to Yunnan. Yunnan Post Station of the county was a dazzling pearl on the ancient southwest Silk Road. Yunan is just originated from it and so Yunnan County was set up as early as Western Han period (206BC-25AD). But only Yunnan Post Station has kept the name of Yunnan till today, with a span of more than 2,000 years. Though the post station has long been deserted, historical remains and cultural sights are preserved, such as sites of houses, shops, inns and stalls, which have formed the features of the ancient town; the ruins of the ancient Silk Road; site of Flying Tigers of American volunteers during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggressors and things left behind by them.

Jizu Mountain Jizu Mountain

Jizu Mountain, located at Binchuan County, is the fifth famous Buddhist mountain in China, known as the “deity mountain of Buddhism”. Legend says that it is the place where Kasyapa, the first disciple of Sakyamuni (565-486BC), passed away here. In front of the mountain are Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, and the Jinsha River is in the back. Tianzhu peak, the main peak of the mountain, has an elevation of 3,240 meters, and on its top you can see the sceneries of sunrise from the east, clouds of the south, Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake of the west and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain of the north. At the same time the mountain has eight landscapes such as Sky-rising Buddhist Halo, Circling Clouds over Erhai Lake, Heavy Snow on Cangshan Mountain, Waterfall Fly Through Clouds and so on.

Sideng Street Sideng Street

Sideng Street is located at the center of Shaxi town, 28 kilometers from the county town of Jianchuan. It is the only age-old street survived on the ancient tea road where the ancient stage, inn for drivers of carts and caravans, temples and village gates remain intact. It was put in the List of World Heritage of Endangered Buildings by the Foundation for the Protection of World Memorable Buildings in 2001.

Shibaoshan Grottoes Shibaoshan Grottoes

About 25 kilometers south of Jianchuan county town the grottoes, one of the most superb grottoes in south China, has a total of 16 caves storing 139 statues. It is praised as the “gem of south China” and “Dunhuang of southwest China”. The grottoes have reflected the mixture of the Han and Tibetan culture and most of the statues belong to the Esoteric Sect.

Manxian Forest Manxian Forest

Manxian Forest has several dozens of beautiful scenic spots, such as Yingxian Bridge, Yanqing Tower, Sleeping Buddha Niche, Green Screen, Immortal Ascending the Heaven, Immortal Playing Chess and so on. The inscriptions on the cliffs by celebrities of different dynasties have attracted a lot of visitors. They are in vigorous and vivid strokes, really stroke of genius.

Ancient Weishan City Ancient Weishan City

Located at Weishan county town it is the cradle of the Nanzhao State (649-902). The streets of Weishan City are neat and tidy and the chessboard pattern of Ming and Qing dynasties is still retained. The age-old buildings are Wenhua Academy, Taiyang Palace, Yuanjue Temple and Lengquan Nunnery.

Changchundong Age-old Buildings on Weibao Mountain Changchundong Age-old Buildings

It is 10 kilometers from the county town of Weishan and legend says that it was the place that the founder of Nanzhao State did farming and herding. The scenic spots here are Zhunti Pavilion, Ganlu Pavilion and Changchundong Temple. The plane structure of the temple is arranged in the octagon according to the shape of the Eight Diagrams, it is a rare top-quality architectural work among the Taoist buildings.

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