By Mr Ma Tongchun, a local resident and senior English-speaking tour guide with over 30 years of professional experience.
On an April morning, I and my friend Yang had a pilgrim tour to Caoxisi Temple in Longshan Mountain, Wenquan Town, Anning City in the west of Kunming.
Longshan Mt, Wenquan Town, Anning City
We arrived at Caoxisi Temple at about 9, the sunshine over the roofs made the temple bright and shining. The temple is nestled in the forest of Longshan Mountain, embraced by woods, landscaped with green meadows, the bryophyte growing on stones, and gurgling streams. In a nice environment, the temple hasn't suffered any harm of industrial pollution and offers visitors a beautiful pilgrimage and is very special in Kunming and even Yunnan.
The front gate of Caoxi Temple
We walked up the track till the temple where the bright golden Chinese characters "cao xi si" can be seen hung above the front gate. We took pictures of the front gate and kowtowed before entry and walked up with our eyes scanning the Two Buddhist Guardians, the Four Heavenly Warriors, and the Arhats and Bodhisattvas on the platforms along the wall. After finishing steps upwards, we suddenly found us in front of the Buddha's Temple.
In summer, the temple is very beautiful with nice environment
Caoxisi Temple was first built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). According to a stone tablet, the sixth ancestor Huineng Master of Zen Buddhism of Tang Dynasty used to preach Buddhism at Caoxi River of Xishuikou, Shaozhou (today's Shaoguan City) Prefecture of Guangdong Province, and he sent his younger brother to Yunnan to disseminate the doctrines of "Sudden Enlightenment" of Zen Buddhist. The younger brother built this temple on the mountainside by Tanglangchuan River (Mantis River); because the river looked very much like Caoxi River in Shaoguan, he named the temple Caoxisi Temple (Temple of Caoxi River).
The temple was repaired several times in Dali Kingdom Period (938-1253), repaired in the 30th year of Kangxi Period (1691) of the Qing Dynasty, and the handwritings of the Song Dynasty was discovered on the beams and columns of the temple during the repairs in the early 1950s. China's famous Architect and Prof Liang Sicheng (1901-1972) identified the temple to be an ancient temple complex of the Song and Yuan dynasties based on its layout and architectural characteristics.
The sun clock and the magnolia delavayi Franch
In front of the Buddha's temple, we saw the sun-clock needle set on a stone stand by the Technique Office of the Ministry of Communication of National Republic of China in April 1943. It is a very rare historic relic of the scientific past. We also enjoyed seeing the prospering plum tree and the magnolia delavayi Franch planted in the Yuan Dynasty on two sides of the temple.
We saw a round moon window under the eave, which is a distinctive architectural unit. It is said that on the 15th of the 8th month or the Mid- Autumn Festival of the zodiac rooster year on the Chinese lunar calendar, the moon light would shine on the forehead of the Buddha first and move down the Buddha’s eyes, nose, mouth, chest and to the navel then off. The local people call it "the window keeps the treasure moon". I am looking forward to the day of the rooster zodiac year once in 60 years. The whole temple is a wood complex of Song Architecture with exquisite bracket system and carved columns and beams. The Three Holy Avatamsaka statues inside is goldenly shining, and the special wood statue of Bodhisattva Guanyin behind the Buddha is very unique because it was carved in the Song Dynasty.
The Guanyin temple
We walked up to Guanyin Temple behind the Buddha's and found a lot of stone steles with thousand donators name carved and the biggest donator had generously offered over 50 thousand RMB for the temple reconstruction. We then walked out of the temple complex and travelled to the Pearl Spring to see the bubbling spring and went back to the temple for a vegetarian lunch.
The entrance to Yunnan Buddhist College
We walked down the hill to Yunnan Buddhist College for pilgrim and then we walked to the Three-Tide Holy Water which was very famous for its water to make tofu in the past and now only a seldom visited tourist attraction.
We walked to the cliff grottos after the Hot Spring, the carvings and writings on the cliff told us the development of the Hot Spring started in a long history and many who's who had their calligraphy carved on the cliff which remained valuable cultural traces of the past.
With nice pictures and good impression, we took bus back to Kunming.