A visit to the small town of Wenquan

This Article is shared by Adam Yang based on a one-day tour to the Wenquan Town in the west of Kunming. 


Our tour started early in the morning because we had to take a 50 minutes bus ride from Kunming to Anning. 


Before we planned for the visit to the Caoxi Temple of Wenquan town, some friends recommended the trendy rose plantations in Bajie Town some 30 km from Anning. But, we finalised the Temple. The only reason is that we wanted to try the vegetarian lunch in the Temple and stay around visiting some sites in Wenquan town.

The road sign for Caoxi temple 

When arrival in the downtown of Anning at about 09:30, we transferred Bus No.12 to Wenquan Town (we made a mistake because we bought the bus tickets to Anning) about 20 minutes' ride. The temple is not so far from the town, and we walked along the shortcut uphill, encountering some locals on the way who might have returned from the Temple. On the roadside is an old, abandoned building said to be the cable car station constructed in the 1980s.

The shortcut

After about 30 minutes walk, we got to the gate of the Temple. It was very quiet and nearly no tourists were there except for few local families from the town, burning joss sticks in the large burner in front of the Heavenly Guardians Hall.

From left to right: the Southern Heavenly Guard and Eastern Heavenly Guard 

Along the steps connecting the Guardians Hall and the main courtyard are 18 clay sculptures of Buddhist Arhats girdled by glass for the sake of damage.

The old cypresses and stone lions 

The steps to the Majestic Hall (Baohua Pavilion) are franked by old, towering cypresses and a pair of stone lions with the male playing a ball and female taking care of her baby.

Beside the cypresses is a centuries-old plum tree and a Magnolia delavayi plant said to be planted by an Ancient Indian monk. Normally the Magnolia delavayi bears flower with 12 petals but is mythically said to be 13 in a year with an intercalary month. Mr Yang Sheng'an (1488-1559), a famous scholar in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), even praised it rhetorically saying: "it is from the fairy land". Mr Fan Chengxun (1641-1714), the governor of Yunnan in the Qing Dynasty, once built a cottage to protect the Magnolia delavayi. In his poem, Fan wrote: "I've been so pre-destined with mountains and rivers that I encountered the famous flower in Yunnan, witnessed its magic beauty and fragrance, and I couldn't help marveling".

The solarium, made in the 1940s

In front of the Hall is a stone container holding water for visitors to drop coins for good luck, and a polished old solarium which is really a miracle in a Buddhist temple. 

A view of the Hall from a wing building in the main courtyard

As the highlight of the temple, the Hall is a wooden stricture designed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) style, with gables and hip roofs, arched beams, and glaze-tile roof showing simplicity and grandeur that one can find in most Chinese architectures of the Song Dynasty. The"three saints" in Huayan World (a Buddhist realm) enshrined in the Hall are of exquisite workmanship with the Song (Dynasty) style. In 1956, Mr Zhou Shujia-deputy director of China Buddhist Association-visited Caoxi Temple with expertise and thought highly of the Three Saints sculptures.

As implied by a travel guide book, we tried to have look at the famous wooden sculptures of three saints (the Buddha, Bhodisattva Samantabhadra, and Bhodisattva Manjushri) deemed priceless treasures inherited from the Song Dynasty. But for some reason they have been housed somewhere in the Temple unopen to public.


What is more interesting is the legend of the scene Moonlight Shines on the Belly of the Buddha. It's said that on the night of the autumn equinox or the Mid-autumn Day in each Chinese Rooster Year, the moonlight shines on the Buddha from the forehead to the navel through the cavity set on the dormer on the roof. I believe only some people can witness this in his/her lifetime. 


Yunnan Buddhist College

The entrance to the Buddhist College

At about 11:00, we had the vegetarian lunch in the Temple's canteen. At about 12:00, we continued our tour to Yunnan Buddhist College, constructed during 2002-2004 and being enlarged, which is only several hundreds of metres from the Temple. This quiet place nestles in verdant vegetation with fresh air. There are temples designed in the Chinese Buddhist style and Southern Buddhist style. 

The Southern Buddhism Temple

The Chinese Buddhist Temple was under restoration, so we had to ascend along the walkways to the Southern Buddhist Temple the stepway of which is franked with two giant glazed dragons. The brilliant façade of the Southern Buddhist Temple drew much of our attention. From the front of the magnificent Temple, I overlooked the nice views of landscapes of the mountain and took some nice shots. I think in a summer day in the heat of the sun, it is really a  place where you can enjoy a cool breeze.

The view from the Southern Buddhist Temple

Wenquan Town
We walked along the way down to the town. Unsurprisingly, we found some resort hotels  that are nearly hidden in the forests, including Jinfang Forest Spa Resort and Sheenjoy Spa Resort etc. On many ads are people soaked in hot springs as Wenquan town enjoys a wide fame for its natural hot springs. 

Anning convention centre on the opposite of Wenquan Square

On the way to the No.1 Hot Spring we made a special point to visit, we walked by the Wenquan Square where few elders were chitchatting in the pavilion. Around the Spring where hot bubbles still pop up from underground are rooms with ponds for visitors to enjoy Spa. 

The limpid water of the No.1 Hot Spring 

Historically, this small town was once dwelled by many Chinese politicians especially in the Republic of China, including Long Yun (1884-1962) and Lu Han (1895-1974). Now, the residences of them have become historic sites under protection of the government. 

The site Inscriptions on Precipice is just on the roadside

About 1 km from the Spring is the historic site "Inscriptions on Precipice" just on the roadside. Enthusiasts of Chinese calligraphy can spend one hour or two observing the works on the rock. Another 1 km south the Site is the Bus Station where you we took the bus ride directly from Wenquan to Kunming. 


Travel tips
If you'd like to explore this area yourself, you can take a bus ride from Xiaoximen to Anning. One thing you have to know is that there is direct bus ride from Xiaoximen to Wenquan (but not to downtown of Anning). 

NextPageTitle:Caoxisi temple, Anning City