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Home Hangzhou Attractions Ten Classic Views of West Lake Nanping Wanzhong

Nanping Wanzhong (Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill) Introduction


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Nanping Wanzhong(南屏晚钟),literally Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill, is a mixture of cultural and natural views. It belongs to one of Top 10 Old Scenes of West Lake Scenic Area. Without learning about its history and culture of this area, travelers may sense that it is as common as other ordinary scenes indeed, and not special or extraordinary at all! So it is why many visitors of West Lake Scenic Area always negatively and lowly comment this view, even the whole scenic area of West Lake. And perhaps, it is also one of the important reasons why West Lake Scenic Area as a candidate is always a loser in applying for the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site since its first try when China began the progress of world heritage enterprise. Repeatedly, travelers have to learn sufficiently about the history and culture of West Lake Scenic Area, and it will be possible for them to touch the real charm and beauty of this glorious and heavenly area, and it is with this part.

The Scene of Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill is mainly comprised two parts:Nanping Hill Scenic Area and Jingci Temple. Two parts are strongly or vividly characterized of its beauty of nature and culture. Its beauty based on the traditional atmosphere of poetic imagery and Zen mediation of wanderers and walkers at dark. In other words, except the visual beauty, the more charming part of this sight is actually a classic or shared imagination in minds of visitors relying on the understanding and cultivation of Chinese traditional culture and history. The scene of Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill is a combination of intangible beauty and visualized landscape. It is a classic for 1, 000 years or so. Buddhism culture and traditional elite culture of China in the aspect of literature and art largely shape the eternality of charm of this scene.

On the right side of gate of Jingci Temple, there is a stele pavilion, in which an imperial stele carved with four Chinese characters” 南屏晚钟” stands. The characters were created by Emperor Kang Xi. The sound of the bell extends here and is historically famous. Zhang Dai, a famous poet of Tang Dynasty once highly spoke of the bell sound in his poem. During early Ming Dynasty, a huge bell with a weight of approximately 10, 000 kilograms was settled here. Unfortunately, up to the late Qing Dynasty, the bronze-made bell lost due to the warfare. And during the long-term desolation, the scene of Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill has lost lots of luster.

In October, 1984, with the help of Japanese Buddhism circle, a new bronze bell was recast for Jingci Temple. In 1986, this scene was renewed and upgraded. This bell is hung in the rebuilt bell tower. The bell tower is 3.6 meters high and has a weight of 10,000 kilograms as well as a diameter of 2.3 meters. The externality of the bell shape is traditional and simple. The exterior is carved with the content of Lotus Sutra of Buddhism, and the number of characters is more than 68,000. The coined bell is elaborate and delicate, and each strike can last over 2 minutes. The bell of Jingci Temple sounds extensively and deeply at dark over the whole tranquil West Lake Scenic Area to awake the passerby who loses themselves in hustle and bustle world for limitless desire.

In recent years, at the eve of New Year, visitors and local people as well as the influential people of Hangzhou gather at the Bell Tower of Jingci Temple to strike the giant bell for annual blessings. The sound represents the happiness, stability, unity and auspiciousness. It redisplays the great enchantment and new denotation of culture injected in this old scene. Scene of Evening Bell of Ringing at the Nanping Hill is an old monk tranquilly staring at the farther area and deeply praying for the people and world at dark.

Nanping Hill (南屏山) located on the southern side of West Lake, northern area of Yuhuang Hill and east side of Jiuyao Hill. And it is the branch of Jiuyao Hill actually. The main peak of Nanpin Hill named Huiri Peak(慧日峰) is more than 100 meters high and thickly and densely covered with forests. The hill is riddled with cliffs, caves and stone-made scenes. The cliffs of Nanping Hill look like the screens in southern side of West Lake; hence it is named Nanping Hill (South Screen Hill). The famous Jingci Temple is located at the foot of hill. The bell sound of temple is always ringingly heard. It is the classic scene of Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill, which is the oldest scene among Ten Classic Scenes of West Lake. There are also plenty of ancient cliff inscriptions or carvings and ancient Buddhist monuments on the hill. The trees on hill mostly are pine trees. Anciently, due to many Buddhist temples on the hillside, Nanping Hill is also called Foguo Hill(佛国山, Hill of Buddhist State). It has more than 10 famous historic relics. By the way, Zhang Zeduan(张择端), the famous painter of Northern Song Dynasty and creator of the masterpiece of Chinese traditional painting: Qing Ming Shang He Tu(清明上河图, Along the River During the Qingming Festival), at once created a themed painting with the classic scene of Evening Bell Ring at the Nanping Hill.

On the east side of the path at the rear of Jingci Temple, it is the stupa of Master Rujing, who was said to be the master and leader of Caodong Branch of Buddhism in Japan. Up to today, there are also some Japanese Buddhists come here for pilgrimage every year. Go westwardly, it is a large forest with terrific natural landscape. Innumerable rock peaks and caves hide or show in forests. It is another world close to a prosperous downtown city. Perhaps the most famous cave is Lianhu Cave or Lotus Cave. Over the cave, it is a rock named Shaolin Rock, and on the rock, there are two large Chinese characters”少林” written by Lou Yue of Song Dynasty. It was said that this place was the self-meditation area of a monk from Shaolin Temple. In Ming Dynasty, there used to a pavilion named Ju Ran Pavilion(居然亭) at the mouth of cave. And the neighboring Stone-Buddha Cave is also famous for its two Buddha statues preserved in cave, and also there are a valuable inscription aside, “寰中天室”(The Heavenly Room at the center of Universe), which was said to be written by Hu Zongxian(胡宗宪), a famous official in Ming Dynasty. Fahua Platform is a relatively low peak, and it is also called Duxiu Peak. At the foot of Huiri Peak, there is a rock named Rock of Joy on the right side of Lotus Cave. Currently, there are three little stone Buddha statues available, but the head parts have been damaged, but the foundations and the head decorations are vivid. Cave of Youju called Immortal Cave in folk society is located on the ridge on the right of Nanping Club. It is said to be the place of Ge Hong to be the immortal. The cave carvings are themed with the content of Yin-Yang and Eight Diagrams. There is also a small platform of playing guqin.

The Site of Jia Ren Gua (家人卦) could be the most famous scenic spot in the west area of Nanping Hill. It is also cliff inscription created by Sima Guang(司马光, 1019-1086, a famous politician, literature master, reformist in Northern Song Dynasty, who extremely rejected the Reform of Wang Anshi and sided with the conservative group exemplified with Su Dongpo, Ouyang Xiu and so on) in regular script. Jia Ren Gua is a part of Book of Changes, one of Five Confucianism Classics. This inscription could be the important summarization of Confucian’s ideology of social system and also the primitive material of Confucianism about the individuals’ relationship with family members, including parents, brothers, sisters, wife, children and concubines, as well as the other social members. This cliff is quite wide and broad, so the characters are large, each of which is roughly 10 centimeters long. And the scripts are quite vivid and impressive indeed.

In accordance to some historical records, there used to be some extended inscriptions themed with Yue Ji(乐记, Book of Music) and Zhong Yong(中庸, Doctrine of the Mean), apart from the content of Jia Ren Gua, and someone believes that this cliff inscription originally was written in Tang Dynasty, and later the extra content and name of Sima Guang were added. In 1040, Sima Chi(司马池), Sima Guang’s father, acted as the governor of Hangzhou and crowned to be Lord of Wengong. Sima Guang became Jin Shi of Imperial Examination in 1038, and he visited to his father in Hangzhou, and Sima Guang created the extension of inscription. But all in all, the whole cliff inscription was confirmedly completed during the time that Sima Chi governed Hangzhou. But it was destroyed as the time went and is unavailable now.

The Cliff Inscription of Zhou Chang - Beside the site of Jia Ren Gua of Nanping Hill, there is a huge cliff-carved inscription, which has been ruined to some extent. The inscription content is:"南山之隈,白石巍巍。上有丹崖,下有琴台。弥天然师,与我游哉。勒名石坚,庶播将来。至正甲午仲春,吴兴周昌书于南屏石壁", which means: On a corner of Southern hill, it is a huge and high white rock, on which the red cliff and guqin platform are located. The natural master travels with me pleasantly. I carved the name on the rock to last my pleasure and this visit to the future. In spring of Jia-Wu Year, Zhou Chang of Wuxing writes on the cliff of Nanping Hill. On the left peak, there are three large characters” 南山亭”(Pavilion of South Hill) and inscription of Cha Shi Beng Yun(叱石崩云). There are also the large broken steles and the ruins of ancient architectural complex.

The Famous Building Sites in History - Anciently, there used to be the villa of Sun Taichu, Reading Site of Huang Ru Heng, Reading Forest of Yu Chunxi, Elaborate Villa of Li Liufang, Southern Cottage of Bao Han and Lotus Residence of Monk Guangyan. It used to be the perfect zone naturally featured with natural and cultural enchantment. It is a wonderful place for reading, living, cultivating and creating.

During the time of late Yuan and early Ming Dynasties, Mo Weixian(莫维贤), a famous Confucian, built his private villa called Nanping Villa under the Huiri Peak. Mr. Mo was talented and specialized in teaching and used to be the educational governor of Hangzhou in early Ming Dynasty. Formerly, he lived in the zone between lingyin temple and tianzhu region, and his house was surrounded with gingko trees, so it was famous as Garden of Gingko (杏园, traditionally, Chinese medicine circle is respectably called Xin Lin”杏林, the Forest of Gingko” and Chinese educationa circle was honorably named Xin Tan”杏坛, the Platform of Gingko” for Confucius used to teach his students on the platform surrounded by gingko trees, so it was quite a high comment to his personal residence). Subsequently, he moved to the foot of Nanping Hill, and built his Nanping Villa. He used to create and recite the prose and poems with his friends over there, so at the time, the Nanping Villa was also respectably called Xiao Wangchuan(小辋川, Small Wangchuan Villa, which used to be the name of Wang Wei’s villa built in Zhongnan Mountain in Tang Dynasty. Due to the unsurpassed reputation of Wang Wei in Chinese literature history and his grand contribution to Chinese poem, Wangchuang Villa has become the symbol of a center of literature. So it is another high praise to Mo Weixian indeed). So this area is actually characterized of its cultural and humanistic beauty aside from its eternal natural landscape.

Leifeng Pagoda is a famous Buddhist pagoda in the Nanping Hill Scenic Area, it is a restored pagoda famous for its long history and touching legendary story of Lady White Snake, Traditionally compared to be an old monk opposite to Baochu Pagoda used to be considered as a beauty, Leifeng Pagoda is an ideal place to overlook the view of West Lake Scenic Area.

Jingci Temple located at the foot of Rihui Peak of Nanping Hill faces West Lake directly. Jingci Temple as famous Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou is a quite time-honored giant Buddhist temples in east China. Originally built by Qian Chu, who was also a pure-hearted pilgrim of Buddhism, in 954, the first temple leader of Jingci Temple was Monk Daoqian coming from Quzhou, Zhejiang Province, Initially called Yong Ming Chan Yuan, or Monastery of Eternal Brightness.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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