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Home Hangzhou Attractions Hangzhou Baopu Taoist Temple

History and Stories of Hangzhou Baopu Taoist Temple


 

hangzhou baopu taoist temple
Yellow Wall of Baopu Taoist Temple

The representative scenic spot of Geling Hill is Baopu Taoist Temple(抱朴道院), which was said to be the place of Ge Hong (a famous Taoist theorist and follower of East Jin Dynasty, which lasted from 317 to 420) to cultivate himself and make or refine the immortal medicament, is the quite famous Taoist land nationwide. It was said that Ge Hong used to gather the herbs in this hill to cure the ill people, besides he put lots of treasured refined medical substances into the wells, and the drinkers did not catch the epidemic disease as long as they drunk the water of wells. He also opened the path of the hill to facilitate the walkers. He did many good deeds to the local people; hence they called the hill Geling in memory of Ge Hong. Furthermore, the local also built up a Memorial of Ge Xian(葛仙祠) to commemorate Ge Hong. In Yuan Dynasty(1206-1368), Ge Xian Memorial was destroyed due to the warfare, and it was rebuilt by local authorities and descendants of Ge Hong with the financial help of local rich men in Ming Dynasty(1368-1644) but its name was changed to be Manao Shanju(玛瑙山居, Residence of Carnelian Hill). In Qing Dynasty(1616-1911), it was resurfaced a lot and changed to be named Bao Pu Dao Yuan(Baopu Taoist Temple) because the Taoist name or Taoist title of Ge Hong was Bao Pu Zi, which in Chinese is 抱朴子and had a profound meaning in Taoist theoretical classics, and for more, please read in Biography of Ge Hong. Hence it was used up to today.

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, it has a new look. As we all know, if you read what we served above, the original names of Baopu Taoist Temple are Bao Pu Lu(抱朴庐) and Ge Xian An(葛仙庵), and it was built for commemorating Ge Hong, the famous Taoist, chemist and Chinese orthodox medicine expert of ancient China. Currently, it is one of 21 nationwide key and publicly-opened Taoist temples of China as well as the headquarters of Taoism Association of Hangzhou Municipality, and it is the only one ranked into this top list of Taoist temples in Zhejiang province. In 1982, Taoists resumed the regular Taoist ceremonies and rites over there; a lot of historical and cultural sites were well preserved and the buildings in Taoist temple were renewed as well.



The Old Well of Refining the Immortal Medicament (Lian Dan Gu Jing)

hangzhou baopu taoist temple
Taoists of Baopu Taoist Temple

Climbing down the Chu Yang Tai(Initial Sunrise Platform) and walking for a second, visitors can see a large-scale Taoist building complex painted in yellow on the hillside of Geling Hill. Slowing wandering along the hilly and narrow paths densely sheltered by forests on both sides, we arrive in a relatively plain, where many morning exercisers play Tai Ji or shadow boxing every day. It is a quite tranquil and natural area with the perfect advantage of sufficient sunlight, and the ideal land of birds and squirrels. Beside the building complex, there is an old well surrounded by the stone fences, on the southern side of stone fence, four old but vivid Chinese characters”炼丹古井” were carved in the style of Chinese Calligraphy, the meaning of the characters is The Old Well for Refining the Immortal Medicament. This well was said to be place of Ge Hong made the immortal medicament. The water is quite clear and never dries up. The water of the well was said to be red flowing across the rock. The water will be overflowing if visitors stare at the water, and the water will move downward if visitors leave. The water is also said to connect with the sea, and people do not know the depth of well. Near to the well, it is the Platform of Refining Immortal Medicament, but has been largely ruined.



The Architectural Styles of Baopu Taoist Temple

Actually, seen from afar, the stone-made yellow gate or Pai Lou(牌楼), dependably called in Chinese, is eye-catching. When we get to the Shan Men(山门, the Gate of Taoist Temple or Buddhist Temple, which is a humble alternative of Taoists and Buddhists in China to call the place they live in), we will see the exterior wall of Taoist temple painted in yellow color with four Chinese Characters”抱朴道院” written by the regular style of Chinese calligraphy. the whole wall built along the landform of the location looks like a flowing yellow Long(龙, a divine creature of China, different from Dragon of the western, unluckily, many unqualified Chinese translators translated it into the evil dragon. Actually it is another holy and respectable immortal living on heaven with fairies. And it is symbol of luck and auspiciousness). Hence it widely boasts The Wall of Long, which is an important scene of Baopu Taoist Temple. By the way, the entrance ticket price is 5 Yuan per person, and it is surely cheap too much compared to the entrance price of Leifeng Pagoda.

The main hall of Baopu Taoist Temple is Ge Xian Dian(葛仙殿, Hall of Ge Xian), and later, Ge Hong became an immortal and his statue was set in center of Hall as a god for pilgrims to worship. The statue of Ge Hong was at middle, and two sides are two other God’s statues. The huge and life-like statues make the visitors serious and deferential. The cushions set in front of the statues are for kneeing and praying of pilgrims. And a lot of the furniture in hall are donated by pilgrims like the traditional and exquisite desk, which is quite impressive and carved with the donators or pilgrims’ name. The whole hall is quite large and decorated fairly well. The gates are the traditional style of wooden and well-carved gates. The breath-taking roof of the hall is quite unforgettable in fact, which is decorated magnificently and built in line with the theory of Taoism. The yard is not large but is a perfect place to appreciate the architectures.


Cihan Zhenren's Statue of Baopu Taoist Temple The Architecture of Baopu Taoist Temple
The Wall of Baopu Taoist Temple The Hall of Baopu Taoist Temple



Another impressive feature of Baopu Taoist Temple is the innumerous tablets in different sizes with Chinese calligraphic characters. The east side of main hall is Hong Mei Ge(红梅阁, Red Plum Pavilion)and Ban Xian Tang(半闲堂, Half Leisure Hall), in which the statue of Ci Hang Zhen Ren (慈航真人, an important immortal in Taoist immortal system, actually is Kwan-yin in Buddhism, because Kwan-yin is the jointly-believed god in Taoism and Buddhism based on their shared part of theory)was served. Two sides of Ci Hang Zhen Ren are the statues of Treasure God and Learning God, and if you are eager to earn more money, you had better pray Treasure God for treasure, and if you want to get progress in study or academics, you had better pray Learning God for progress in study. Also there is a house named Bao Pu Lu(抱朴庐, House of Baopu) nearby. Three traditional buildings are constructed exquisitely and belong to the garden-style architecture in southern China. In Red Plum Pavilion, there is the wooden gallery, and the images themed with Li Hui Niang(李慧娘, a homeless but beautiful woman separated from her family due to the war and was forced to be a singing and dancing girl in Jia Sidao’s mansion, the story mentioned in details below) is quite remarkable. The surrounding scenic spots are Stele of Ge Xian An(葛仙庵碑), Shuang Qian Quan(双钱泉, Double Coins Spring), Lian Dan Tai(炼丹台, Platform of Refining Immortal Medicament) and ChuYang Tai(初阳台, Initial Sunrise Platform, where Ge Hong used to stay for watching sunrise. Annually, on Oct.1, it is the best time to appreciate the sunrise on Chu Yang Tai, and some scarcely-seen view is available at dawn). Stele of Ge Xian An was made in reign of Emperor Shenzong in Ming Dynasty, and the calligraphic style of inscriptions is simple and brief, and the content is also beautiful, which records Ge Hong’s biography and the experiences of Ge Hong building Taoist temple and refining the immortal medicament as well as the things of constructing Taoist buildings in different dynasties, what’s else, some Taoist ceremonies were also written. Shuang Qian Quan in the yard is welcomed by the visitors, because the water of the spring is quite sweet and good for health and longevity. The building of Ban Xian Tang is the traditional building playing the role of dining room, where visitor can have the Taoist-style dishes but not free of charge. Through the dining room, visitors get to a tranquil and well-constructed path, along which visitors can easily and quickly walk to another famous site---Baochu Pagoda, what should be highly mentioned is that there are also plenty of surprising scenic spots on the way to Baochu Pagoda. If visitors are careful, the trip on the route to Baochu Pagoda will be quite interesting.

Incidentally, another interesting scene of Baopu Taoist Temple is its couplets. There are a lot of large-size couplets and tablets in it, and each of them has the different but profound meaning indeed. In many scholars’ eyes, they are considerably valuable.



The Story of Half Leisure Hall (Ban Xian Tang) --- Li Huiniang

Half Leisure Hall used to be place of Jia Sidao(贾似道, the spoiled and ill-conditioned high official of Southern Song Dynasty) to amuse himself. Today, it is the holy hall serving the statues of three gods. But fewer people know there is a legendary story happened here, which later became a famous traditional opera show in China.

profile of Jia Sidao
Jia Sidao, the evil premier

During the late period of Southern Song Dynasty, owing to the war, a beautiful and homeless girl named Li Huiniang(李慧娘) was forced to be a singing and dancing girl in mansion of Jia Sidao. Jia Sidao was an infamous and notorious man in Southern Song Dynasty. Due to one of his sisters became a concubine of Emperor Lizong , Jia Sidao was promoted to be a high official and at last acted as the premier of central government. Used to be the imperial garden, this place (the former Baopu Taoist Temple) was presented to Jia Sidao as a private mansion. Jia Sidao used to enjoy himself here, and Li Huiniang stayed here as well. One day, Li Huiniang heard Pei Shunqing(裴舜卿), a young student of Tai Xue(太学, the top level of educational system in ancient China, roughly as equal as today’s Peking University or Tsinghua University, but the graduated students were directly assigned as the officials of government), straightforwardly and furiously condemned the evilness and shames of Jia Sidao, and her adoration to Mr. Pei was brought into being and could not help speaking out some favorable words, and these words led her to the death. Returning to the mansion, Li Huiniang was killed in sword by Jia Sidao. Li Huiniang turned to a ghost but she still wanted to avenge herself on Jia Sidao. The righteous Pan Guan(判官, literally the official of judgment, the official in the ghost world to administrate the newcome ghosts and comment the whole life before their death) sympathized with her sufferings and allowed her to return to the human world to help Pei Shunqing, and also presented her a treasure with superpower, which named Yin-Yang Fan(阴阳扇).

Jia Sidao hated Pei Shunqing too much and had an evil idea of cheating Pei Shunqing into his mansion and imprisoning him in the Red Plum Pavilion before killing him. Li Huiniang carried his supernatural fan and came into Red Plum Pavilion. She returned to herself. After the heart-to-heart dialogue, she eliminated the suspicion of Pei Shunqing, and meanwhile, they also fell in love with each other. When they indulged themselves into the happiness, the cocks crowed, and Li Huiniang got aware that the ghost could not love a human. She left Pei Shunqing suddenly. When she heard of the deception that Jia Sidao planned to send Liao Yingzhong(廖莹忠), a family officer of Jia Sidao, to kill Pei Shunqing. She hurried to Red Plum Pavilion and told Pei Shunqing this thing. Pei Shunqing did not want Li Huiniang to be entangled and was unwilling to get away. For saving Pei Shunqing, Li Huiniang had to tell him the real identity of hers. Pei Shunqing was over-scared and died. But Li Huiniang brought him through with that special fan. Pei Shunqing got to know Li Huiniang was a kind-hearted ghost and decided to kill himself to marry her in ghost world. Li Huiniang firmly refused at the excuse of living for country and people. At this time, the killers arrived, and Li Huiniang penalized them with her fan and saved Pei Shunqing. Before their leaving, Li Huiniang burnt down the Half Leisure Hall. This is the plot of this legend, and via this story, we know today’s Half Leisure Hall is a restored one.






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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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