Chongsheng Monastery in Dali

Chongsheng Temple

Three Pogadas’ mother building was known as Chongsheng Monastery and used to be the royal temple of the Kingdom of Dali and one of the largest Buddhist centers in south-east Asia. It was originally built at the same time as the first pagoda but was destroyed in a fire in the Qing Dynasty reign period. The temple was later rebuilt in 2005. It was recorded that Qianxun Pagoda had been split in an earthquake on May 6th, 1515 AD in Ming Dynasty. However, it miraculously recovered ten days later in an aftershock. The most recent record of severe earthquake in the Dali area occurred in 1925. Only one in a hundred of the buildings in Dali survived, but the Three Pagodas were undamaged.

Why is Chongsheng Temple so special?

Chongsheng Temple is the evidence of the prosperous Buddhism of Dali. Which is the Royal Temple of Dali Kingdom. It is famous at home and abroad, especially the Three Pagodas. Three Pagodas is the symbol of Dali.

Where is Chongsheng Temple?

It is located in Chongsheng Temple Three Pagodas Tourism Culture Area, 1.8 km north away from Dali Ancient City in Yunnan Province.

How to Get to Chongsheng Temple?

1.Take No.19 bus at north gate of Dali Ancient Town to Three Pagodas Park

2.Take mini-bus from Xiaguan,3 yuan per person

3.Walk from Dali Ancient Town to Three Pagodas

4.Take a coach, 4 yuan per person


The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Monastery in Dali

The original Chongsheng Temple was burned in Xianfeng Period of Qing Dynasty. According to the historical book, Chongsheng Temple was built in 834-840, enjoying thousands of rooms and Buddha Sculptures etc. A thousand years ago, Chongsheng Temple was the royal temple of Naozhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom. In Dali Kingdom of Song Dynasty, the emperor believes in Buddhism, so Chongsheng Temple becomes more prosperous. The Three Pagodas stands there for more than one thousand years.

Main Attractions

1.Historical Culture Experience Area
Historical Culture Experience Area including the Nanzhao Jianji Big Clock (Bell Tower), Yutong Guanyin Hall, two rare picture scrolls, Duangong Tomb, and Bodhi Park.

2.Nanzhao Jianji Big Clock (Bell Tower) 

The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Monastery in Dali

Nanzhao Jianji Big Clock is one of the five treasures of ancient Chongsheng Temple. The original clock was made in AD 871, Nanzhao Jianji period 12th year, so it was called Nanzhao Jianji Big Clock. According to “Travels of Xu Xiake” recorded: “the clock is big, its diameter is several zhangs (a Chinese unit of length = 3 1 / 3 meters), several chis (a Chinese unit of length =1/3 meter) thick and its sound can be heard from eighty lis (a Chinese unit of length, approximately equal to 5oo meters) away…” It is the treasure of the temple with Three Pagodas, but it was destroyed by war during Qing dynasty Xianfeng Period and Tongzhi Period (AD 1856-1872). Recasting in 1997 Nanzhao Jianji Big Clock is typical Buddha clock, and the clocks is divided into upper and lower two parts, the upper part has six paramita patterns, weighing 16.295 tons, and it is the largest clock in Yunnan province.

3.Yutong Guanyin Hall
Yutong Guanyin Hall enshrined Yutong Avalokitesvara, Acuoye Avalokitesvara, Fushi Avalokitesvara, Brahman Monk Avalokitesvara, and Udakacandra Avalokitesvara. Yutong Avalokitesvara originally cast in Nanzhao Zhongxin period second years (AD 899), it was exquisite statues, known as “Wu Taotzu-like painting”, but it was destroyed during the cultural revolution. In 1999, according to the remaining photos of the late Qing Dynasty people carefully recast the Yutong Avalokitesvara in the late Qing dynasty, 12.6 meters high, 11 tons weight. Its modeling made according to the male’s body and female’s looking in Dali area: kindly, kind-hearted woman’s face, tall and straight man’s figure, which is different from the central China area. Acuoye Avalokitesvara is special Dali avalokitevara, also is the statue that Dali people revered the most.

4.Duan Gong Tomb
Duan Gong Tomb is located in the west of Chongsheng Three Pagodas, 350 meters east from Ganxun Tower. After the Ming dynasty chorography called it Pingzhang Tomb, originally it was circular mound, about 8 meters in diameter, 2 meters high, and there were the stone columns above, now there are only left a mound, tomb building has been destroyed. In August 1996, Duan Gong Tomb was managed by Three Pagodas Administration and developed and utilized step by step according to “Chongsheng Temple Three Pagodas Administration Protection and Construction Planning”.

5.Religious Culture Tourist Area

The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Monastery in Dali

Religious Culture Tourist Area is the restoration and reconstruction ancient Chongsheng Temple architectures in 2005. Architectural style is collected the essence of the architecture of Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and on the main axis there is in turn: the gate, Free Life Pond, Approach Bridge, Hall of Heavenly Kings, Maitreya Temple, 11 sides Guanyin Hall, the Great Buddha’s Hall, Acuoye Avalokitesvara Pavilion, Mountain Stone Memorial Arch, Wanghai Building. Aside the central axis and the next axis has: monk room, the abbot courtyard, guest room, Arhat hall, Thousand-Buddha Gallery, the Founder Hall, Dharmapalas Hall, Buddhist Institute, etc. All bracket system windows and doors of the temple and the decoration for the details all used toon carved precisely thinly, and in terms of colored drawing, the buildings adopted highest specification of golden dragon and golden phoenix and different colors. 617 (pieces) of Buddha, ritual items are all cast in bronze of thousands of tons, of which 599 (pieces) of Buddha and painting set the records of the top of China.

6.Reflection Pond 
Behind the Three Pagodas, there is a Reflection Pond which got its name from the graceful clear reflections on the water of the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple. The authentic Three Pagodas and the reflections create a fantastic pictures – six pagodas in one scene. Travelers, especially photographers, should cover the Reflection Pond into your visit for some awesome pictures.

Best Time to Visit Chongsheng Temple

March and April is the best time to visit Chongsheng Temple, during that time there are a lot of festivals and activities. Lots of festivals and activities of Bai nationality centered on period from March to April every year, traveling during this time tourists can enjoy the full-bodied ethnic customs. Tourists can choose to go during the Third Month Fair (from March 15 to March 21 in lunar calendar, the west of Dali Sanyue Street) and Butterfly Activity (April 15 in lunar calendar in Butterfly Spring). Dali annual average temperature in Dali at that time is about 15 degree, so March and April is also the best time to travel Dali.

Nearby Attractions

Three Pagodas 

The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Monastery in Dali

The magnificent and well-known Three Pagodas are the symbol of Dali, which was first built in the time of Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom in 9th and 10th century. Looking from a distance, the pagodas are like three ballpoint pens standing between the magnificent Cangshan Mountain and elegant Erhai Lake.

Cangshan Mountain,located west of Dali Ancient Town and Erhai Lake, is with nineteen peaks and eighteen streams. Travelers can take cableways to reach the top of Cangshan Mountain or explore the breathtaking scenery along Jade Cloud Road.
Dali Ancient Town is a historic town with rich culture located between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake. Unlike any other Chinese town, the traditional Bai ethnic houses give the town distinctive feel. Travelers can wonder in this leisure town to appreciate the unique ethnic architecture and discover its profound history and culture.

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), reputed as “Pearl of Plateau”, is the second largest highland lake of Yunnan. Taking a boat and cycling around the lake are fantastic ways to explore “Silver Cangshan Mountain and Jade Erhai Lake” scenery.

Useful Travel Tips

1. Battery Cars

Battery cars in the tourist area are available in several spots – Entrance Gate, Reflection Pond, Daxiongbao Hall, Wanghai Tower. It takes 25 Yuan for battery cars.

2. Photography Tips

Photographers should catch the best scenery of Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple in two famous spots – the Reflection Pond and Wanghai Tower. The Reflection Pond is a good site to capture full-face photo, pagoda, blue sky and white cloud reflection in the water, in this way, “the six pagodas” would get into your pictures. Standing on the top of Wanghai Tower, travelers can capture full view of Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple in a line and Erhai Lake from afar.