Why is Yuantong Temple special
With a history of more than 1,200 years, Yuantong Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Kunming, Yunnan province. It was first built in the late 8th century, the time of the Nanzhao Kingdom in the Tang Dynasty. After several expansions in Ming and Qing Dynasties, the temple took on its present design, with covered corridors, bridges, and grand halls.
Yuantong Temple is located in the city centre, and about 10 minutes walk from the Green Lake Park. The temple is not large but when you step through the gate you enter a different world. All the noise of the bustling city is left behind and true peace and tranquility replaces it.
Yuantong Temple Highlights
After entering the temple, you will pass through a memorial archway with four Chinese characters -Yuantongshengjing (means Yuantong Wonderland), and you can see the entire temple from here. Unlike the ground of most temples which is flat, you walk further in the temple, the lower the terrain is.
The temple complex is built around the Yuantong Hall (Mahavira Hall), which is surrounded by a tranquil pond with many fish and turtles in it. A delicate stone bridge with an elegant octagonal pavilion stands in the center connecting the entrance and the Yuantong Hall. The pavilion is connected to the rest of the complex by various bridges and walkways. Surrounding the temple pond are a series of halls where you will find elderly people sitting, praying, and chanting sutras.
On each side of the Yuantong Hall, there are stone staircases that are carved out of the mountainside and wind their way to the top of the hill. As you climb up, there are ancient inscriptions, calligraphies, and statues carved on the rocks. From the top of the steps, you are presented with a panoramic view of the entire complex.