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Hangzhou City God Pavilion and Dongyue Temple

hangzhou city god pavilion
Hangzhou City God Pavilion

Over the past thousands of years, Hangzhou Wu Hill Scenic Area has collected a huge number of historic and cultural legacies as the development of this city. The whole Wu Hill is full of the ancient cultural and historic sites, especially the temples or architectural buildings of Buddhism, Taoism and folk worshipping idols. Traditionally, Wu Hill is an important part of Hangzhou West Lake Scenic Area, and also a display window of the glorious history and folk customs of Hangzhou. The remarkable buildings are Hangzhou City God Pavilion and Hangzhou Dongyue Temple.

Hangzhou City God Pavilion (Chenghuangmiao)

City God Pavilion is the landmark of Grand View of Wu Hil(吴山大观), one of the Eighteen Classic Views of West Lake Scenic Area. Hangzhou City God Pavilion is the fourth most famous tower of Jiangnan region. On the right side of City God Pavilion, it is the Memorial Temple of Zhou Xin, whose story has been narrated in article of Wu Hill Scenic Area. The origin of the City God Pavilion(Cheng Huang Ge,城隍阁) is quite culturally famous. Cheng and Huang respectively mean the city wall and the channel of outside of city. For praying for the security of the city, the relevant worshipping ceremonies, rites and activities appeared in the late period of Spring and Autumn. After the eras of Wei, Jin, South and North Dynasties, under the influence of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism The imagery of the city gods are mingled with the viewpoints of the Nemesis of Kindness and Evil, Rites and Moralities. Many famous or respected officials or officers used to be served as the city god after their death.

City God Pavilion of Wushan Scenic Area, also called Wushan Chenghuangmiao, is an archaized seven-floor pavilion together with the underground. It is the symbolized building with a height of 41.6 meters. The whole pavilion is quite luxurious and featured of the architectural styles of Yuan and Ming Dynasties. It is the best site to view the places of interests of Hangzhou like the rivers, hills, lake and towns. The main top of the City God Pavilion is a cucurbit-style tip, and four sub-tops are the sculptures of phoenix. And the whole pavilion looks like a group of soaring phoenixes, also the sacred buildings of the fairyland. The second floor of the City God Pavilion is highlighted with a couplet written by Xu Wei(徐渭, a great poet, littérateur, calligraphist, painter and playwright of Ming Dynasty):

八百里湖山知是何年图画- The 800-li lakes and mountains can tell when the landscape was painted
十万家烟火尽归此处楼台- Tens of thousands of average homes owe all they have to this pavilion

The ground floor shows a huge wooded and colorized picture of Social Lifestyle in Downtown Hangzhou of South Song Dynasty, and on the opposite of this picture is a series of displays exhibiting historic celebrities’ profiles of different dynasties in Hangzhou and ten folk fairy tales. From the third floor to the top, there are the view sites with the excellent leisure service equipments.

hangzhou wushan square
The Grand View of Wushan Hill Scenic Area Highlighted with City God Pavilion

Hangzhou Dongyue Temple (Dongyuemiao, East Mountain Temple)

Initially built in Northern Song Dynasty, Hangzhou Dongyue Temple was for worshipping the God of East Mountain. In 1253(the 13th year of Chunyou’s reign in South Song Dynasty), King Lizong inscribed the board for this temple”东岳之殿”(Hall of East Mountain). In the past, Hangzhou Dongyue Temple had a large scale. The building complex is made up of several halls and courtyards. It is said that The God of East Mountain mainly takes charge of the birth and death of humankind. The original buildings were built for setting the statue of East Mountain Sacred God,Ox Head and Horse Face, Ghost Judge and Officials, Five-Way Generals, Ten-Hall Hades:

shidian yanluo
Picture of The Hell View

【The Constitutions of Ten-Hall Hades:The first hall operated by King Qinguangwang(秦广王) mainly taking humankind’s birth, death, luck and unluckiness in charge. The second hall operated by King Chujiangwang(楚江王) in charge of the freezing ice hell(寒冰地狱). The third hall was operated by King Songdiwang (宋帝王) in charge of Heishengdadiyu. The fourth hall was operated by King Wuguanwang (五官王) in charge of Blood Pond Hell(血池地狱). The fifth hall was operated by King Yanluowang(阎罗王) in charge of the grand hell. The sixth hall was operated by King Bianchengwang(卞城王)in charge of Dajiaohuan Diyu and Wangsicheng(枉死城, Town of The Wrongly Dead). The seventh hall was operated by King Taishanwang(泰山王) in charge of the Flesh Sauce Hell(肉酱地狱). The eighth hall was operated by King Dushiwang(都市王) in charge of the Boiled-Boiler Hell(闷锅地狱). The ninth hall was operated by King Pingdengwang(平等王) in charge of Abi Hell. The tenth hall was operated by King Zhuanlunwang(转轮王)in charge of the recirculation of ghost after distinguishing the evil and the kind】

The breath-taking scenery of the hell and what’s scarier is the scenes of black-white wuchang(黑白无常), both of who were two ghost catchers, and they capture the soul of the people written in the list of death at night. Their appearances are quite scary, and jump always at the nighttime to capture the spirits of the listed people in death book confirmed by Ghost King.

There are plenty of ways to Dongyue Temple. Currently, the left side of the gate of Dongyue Temple is the Viewing Platform of Wu Hill, which experienced three times of reconstruction (the 33rd year under Emperor Guangxu’s reign, the seventh year of the Republic of China, the 37th year of the Republic of China and 1953). Arriving at the Dongyu Temple, visitors can see a board with 5 meters wide, which is inscribed with four huge and remarkable characters:”善恶昭彰”(Clearly Showing the Kind and the Evil), which was inscribed by a local governor with a surname of Fang of Hangzhou in Qing Dynasty. Entering the gate, the visitors can see four iron statues standing on both sides. Four statues were originally made in late North Song Dynasty and remodeled in late Yuan Dynasty. They are built for preventing the disasters, and they are respectively named Lord Lingying(灵应), Lord Fuyou(福佑), Lord Zhongzheng (忠正) and Lord Shunyou(顺佑). The citizens of Hangzhou called them Brother of Iron. The courtyard is a long corridor of culture and arts, and it is themed with the Wu Hill and Dongyue Temple. The main hall of the Dongyue Temple has a big stone-made dragon pillar, which is a quite historic site and relic legacy of Hangzhou. The center of the hall is a huge wooded colorized statue of Emperor Dongyue, and two sides of the statue of Emperor Dongyue are the statues of Lord Bingling, God of Fire and Bixia Yuanjun.

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Writer: David from Seeraa International
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