[Travel] Dali, The Three Pagoda

Third day in Dali after the day before visit the Dali old town and yesterday going around Erhai lake and Xizhou, today we decide to see the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple (崇圣寺三塔). The large complex is located 2 kilometers from Dali Old Town, located at the foot of Yingle Peak (应乐峰) of Cangshan Mountain (苍山). It takes us 35-40 minutes walk.

The pagodas were build during the Nanzhao kingdom (南诏) together with the Chongshen Temple (崇圣寺) complex and as the royal temple of the Kingdom of Dali (大理国). The Three Pagodas have the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty (唐朝).

Going in the gate and passing though the small pond and inside the visitors center buildings. The facilities and buildings are good albeit I can’t really find a good spot to take photograph due to a lot of tourists. Most foreigners skip this place since you can really take photo outside and the entrance is expensive, but I’m curious. Entrance fee 127 CYN (50% for student).


The Three Pagodas (三塔). The middle has 16 levels with the two smaller ones smaller and only have 10 levels.



The view of Erhai lake (洱海) from the first steps of the Nanzhao Jianji Bell Tower (南诏建基钟楼).


Nanzhao Jianji Bell Tower (南诏建基钟楼)

The tower was made in the era of Nanzhao kingdom (南诏). The original bell was lost in Qing Dynasty but In 1997 the bell was recast with the diameter of 2.1 meters, 3.86 in height and 16.295 kilograms in weight. The top part of the bell carved six paramita patterns with the six Heavenly Kings carved at the lower part. It’s the largest bell in Yunnan province, and the 4th largest bell in China.


Nanzhao Jianji Bell (南诏建基钟)


Yutong Avalokiteśvara Hall (雨銅觀音殿)

It was also made in the Nanzhao kingdom (南诏) period. Although it was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, it was rebuilt in 1999. Inside, the statue of Avalokiteśvara on the lotus seat made of copper and inlay with gold.


Avalokiteśvara (觀音)



Chongshen Temple (崇圣寺) gate



The Heavenly King Hall (天王殿)

The hall have hip roof and single eave. Decorated richly with dragon and phoenix patten.  Inside, there’s Dahei God, a 5.7 meters statue with three faces and six arms, holding speaks in anger with the snake around him. Beside him, there are four Heavenly Kings in charge of the Buddhist Doctrine.


Dahei God


The Maitreya Hall (彌勒殿)

The hall is decorated with dragon patten. Inside there’s the figure of Maitreya (彌勒) and Weituo Bodhisattva (韋馱) as the God guarding Dharma. The sitting Maitreya (彌勒) is 3.7 meters in height and Weituo Bodhisattva (韋馱) is 3 meters tall.


Maitreya (彌勒)



Weituo Bodhisattva (韋馱)


The Eleven Face of Avalokiteśvara (十一面孔觀音) Hall

The building have double eave roof. Inside, there’s the Eleven Faces of Avalokiteśvara (十一面孔觀音) statue, nine meters in height. Besides him are his eight avatars in 4 meters in height. 


Eleven Faces of Avalokiteśvara (十一面孔觀音)


Outside is full of people and incense


Beautiful and tall ornate bronze furnace


Salamander to light up the furnace if ever there’s a real fire spirit


The Hall of Mahavira

The hall of Mahavira is the largest Han Buddhism temple. The hall is 51.7 meters wide and 26 meters high. The hall  layout is reference to the painting of Sakyamuni Buddha Meeting in scroll of Sanskrit Buddha Figures by Zhang Shengwen (張勝溫). Carved on the walls are sculptures of these meetings.




Well, it’s a short trip but it takes us a while since there’s so many steps and we didn’t get to see the last Hall near the top. But oh well, we get to rest the whole afternoon since tomorrow we’re going to Kunming and we have another long bus ride.

Dali Trip:

See also Chinese Minority Ethnic Group custom at Shanghai Museum post here.

Source information: GoKunming, DK Eyewitness Travel China, Tripadvisor, Wikitravel, Foreigner Channel


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