Guandu Ancient Town Tours – Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

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Guandu Ancient Town


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Guandu District, Kunming, China, Yunnan Province, Kunming
Hours : 24hours/7days

About this place

Guandu Ancient Town官渡古镇

Located in the guandu region  in kunming, the ancient town is around 10 km away from kunming center.It used to be the center of kunming. However, with the constant changes of the natural conditions as well as the construction of Wujiaba airport, more and more people moved out of here,leaving the town standing there alone.


1. Why was it named Guandu  (Official Ferry)

During Nanzhao kingdom period, King Ge Luofeng appointed his son Feng Jiayi to build up Tuodong city, which was the predecessor of present Kunming. Though you can hardly discern any sign of water here, this region used to be an important ferry place for those who wanted to board the land. When the construction of the tuodong city started, officials and relevant personnels frequented here so often that it was names official ferry. This is how the name came into being.


2. What makes it so famous?

It's hard to imagine that within the area of less than 1 km square stands five mountains, six temples, seven pavilions and eight shrines which have witnessed the ups and downs of five dynasties of Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming ,Qing. It's quite rare that there are 10 sites that are under national, provincial, municipal and regional protection.
Besides, there are more than 100 traditional houses called yikeyin (seal-like compound) dwelling survived here, forming an quaint ancient town here.

--The view of fish lantern on the ancient ferry (古渡渔灯)
Since the water in Dianchi lake descended  greatly, therefore, this view is  no longer in existence. We can only discern its beauty from poems and essays.

-- Running mountain ridges of luofeng. (峰叠翠)

The Luofeng mountain is located in the east side of Shangyi village. It might be a bit hard to believe but it was piled up by spiral shells. Inside those spiral shells we can even find copper debris left by our predecessors. On the top stands Fading Temple, which is surrounded by hundreds of cypress trees.

-- Sheperding sheep in the apricot trees (杏圃牧羊)
In the old times, there used to be a large expanse of apricot trees mixed with bamboos, which was the favorite place for men of letters as well as officials to drink and compose poetry. When it came to spring, sherperd boys would gather on this area and sheperd together, playing games while sheperding sheep.

-- King Kong’s night whispering (金刚夜语)
This is a local legend which goes that there used to be two statues of vajra standing on both sides of the Miaozan Temple. The number of monks then was relatively large. They often volunteer to chant for the dead in the village, some even chanted til midnight. There was one night when a young monk returned from chanting and saw two vajras sitting on the bridge and whispered to each other. He told the others about the thing and people named this bridge vajra bridge.


3. How was the ancient town looked like in the old times?

Before the water in Dianchi lake declined, Guandu was more busy than we can imagine. It’s fair to say that the Guandu at that time was equal to Shenzhen at present. Myriads of businessmen, craftsmen,scholars and monks were attracted here, some left touching poems, some even chose to stay. The town at that time was much larger than what we see today. If someone was intending to do spring festival shopping, or purchase luxuries or some curiosities, here was definitely their first choice. In order to attract more people, the government even constructed a platform here so that people could enjoy performances while shopping or doing business. With the receding water in Dianchi lake, here was no longer the vital transport site. Fewer and fewer people came here and some even moved out of here, leaving it a lonely town here.



4. The temple of five pagodas (金刚宝座塔)


The temple of five pagoda temple is the symbol of Guandu’s ancient civilization. What’s more, it is also the earliest and most well-preserved among the existent five-pagoda temple in China. According to historical record, it was first build in Yuan dynasty and later renovated in Ming dynasty. An earthquake in Qing dynasty destroyed it but was rebuilt later. If we count from the very beginning of its construction, then this pagoda has witnessed 600 years of history.

Now please take a closer look at the pagoda. As you can see, there is no cement in it, instead, we can discern the debris of spiral shells and even rice-shaped stuff. What are these? Actually, the ancient people constructed this pagoda by the mixture of spiral shells and black puddle, with sticky rice and red soil as bedding. It’s said almost every households’ sticky rice was used to in order to compete this pagoda, which weighing 1350 tons!

Now let’s look at the lower part of the pagoda. As you can see, the pedestal is square shaped with four gates on each side. Since the four gates meet in the center and are cross linked, therefore, it is also called 穿心塔, meaning crossing the heart.

Now let’s move our attention to the upper part of the pagoda. If you count, you will find there are five pagodas standing on the tall pedestal, with a major one in the middle and four smaller ones surround it. The major one is as tall as 16.5 meters while the smaller ones are only 5 meters tall. Now let’s look at the major one. Sitting on the square pedestal is dolioform pillar column on which inscribed Buddhism lectures and joss. On the top is a canopy with four small bronze statues sitting on each side. They are four buddhas in Vajrayana sitting on their mounts. The one in the middle is Parinirvana  sitting on a lion; the one in the east is Akshobhya

Akshobhya sitting on an elephant, the one in the south is Ratnasambhava sitting on a horse and the one in the west is Amitabha sitting on a peacock. The one in the north is Jiemo King, sitting on Garuda. Legend goes that under the pagoda suppressed nine dragons which did all kinds of evil and were of great strength.

5. The old platform

This is the platform we mentioned before. The couple conveys the meaning that the platform has survived years of wind and rain and witnesses the past and present.  

6. Miaozhan Temple ″妙湛寺"

The temple was first built in Yuan dynasty, dividing into three parts, the front hall, the middle hall and a rear hall. The original one was destroyed and the one we can see now is rebuilt one. The front hall is the five pagoda temple area, while where we are standing now is the middle hall. In front of the middle hall are two pagodas, east one and west one. The west one is not the the original one because it was destroyed in an earthquake. Local legend goes that every 60 years at the time of the Autumn Equinox, the setting sun shines at the east tower while the ascending moon at the east tower,  the shadow of both towers' tips connect with each other, which is similar to the scene of that of Jinma and Binji archways.

Between the two towers sits a bronze articraft which is a imitation of 司母毋大方鼎.  It' s said that tower is a spiritual item between the sky and the earth, therefore, when taking pictures of towers,we should make sure that we have include the sky and the earth in the pictures.




Snacks you should not miss in Guandu Ancient Town

--Roasted Sticky Rice Pancake (Kao Er Kuai)

--Cold dish of Rice Noodle (Liang Mi Xian)

-- Spiral Shells

--Cold "Shrimps" made of rice (Liang Xia)

--Small pot of Rice Noodle (XIao Guo Mi Xian)

--And anything you find unfamiliar


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