Nanjing, is the capital of the eastern Jiangsu province in China. It is located about 300 km up the Yangtze River from the city of Shanghai. During part of the Ming Dynasty it was the national capital. There are many impressive temples, monuments and landmarks among them Zhonghua Gate or Gate of China, a preserved 14th century section of the massive wall that contained the old city’s southern entrance.
Amazing Qixia Temple is a sacred site found on Qixia Mountain, 22 km southeast of Nanjing. It was founded by the Buddhist monk Ming Sengshao during the Southern Qi Dynasty. It remains an active place of worship. Today it is still one of China’s largest Buddhist seminaries.
Visitors enjoy the mountain’s colorful autumn.
There are two main halls:
Maitreya Hall – with a statue of the Maitreya Buddha sitting cross-legged at the entrance.
Vairocana Hall – with a 5 m tall statue of the Vairocana Buddha.
Behind the temple is the Thousand Buddha Cliff where you can find several grottoes housing stone statues carved right into the cliff side.
Sharira Pagoda was built in 601 AD. The upper part has engraved sutras and carvings of Buddha; around the base, each of the pagoda’s eight sides depict tales from the life of Sakyamuni.
Look all about you for wonderful views where steep paths lead you past pavilions and rocky outcrops. You can bring along lunch and enjoy your time here.
The Linguu Temple Scenic Area this expansive temple complex includes one of the historic buildings in Nanjing – the Beamless Hall. It was built in 1381, containing no beam support and built of brick and stone.
On both sides of the hall is a road leading to two flights of steps that go to the impressive Pine Wind Pavilion. It was originally dedicated to Guanyin as part of Linguu Temple.
Uphill at the rear of the temple is colorful Linguu Pagoda a nine-story, 60 m high octagonal pagoda dating from 1933.
Ming Xiaoling Tomb is the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He was the only Ming emperor buried outside of Beijing.
The area surrounding the tomb is known as the Ming Xiaoling Scenic Area where a tree-lined pathway around the pavilions leads to picnic grounds and ends at scenic Zixia Lake.
The first section of this marvelous mausoleum is a 618 m “spirit path” that is lined with stone statues of lions, camels, elephants and horses meant to drive away evil spirits and guard the tomb. Among them are two mythical animals – a xie zhi which has a mane and a single horn on its head and a qilin with a scaly body, a cow’s tail, deer hooves and one horn.
Near the entrance is Plum Blossom Hill.
Plum Blossom Hill is toward the south from the mausoleum. The planting of plum trees here dates back Six Dynasties. This hill is famous as the “No. 1 Plum Blossom Hill under Heaven”. The plum blossom garden has over 13,000 plum trees from more than 400 species. This is one of the four plum blossom gardens found in China. The fragrant flowers bloom from late February to mid March.
Sun Yatsen Mausoleum is located at the top of a huge stone stairway consisting of 392 steps. Dr. Sun is esteemed by both communists and Kuomintang and is referred to as guofu, “Father of the Nation”. He died in Beijing in 1925 and it was his wish to be buried in Nanjing.
At the beginning of the path is a dignified marble gateway, topped with a roof of blue-glazed tiles. The blue and white mausoleum symbolizes the white sun on the blue background of the Kuomintang flag.
The crypt lies at the top of the steps at the rear of the memorial chamber. Upon a tablet hanging across the threshold is the inscription “Three Principles of the People” as formulated by Dr. Sun – nationalism, democracy and people’s livelihood. Inside is a statue of a seated Dr. Sun (better known to the Chinese as Sun Zhongshan). The wall are carved with the complete text of the “’Outline of Principles for the Establishment of the Nation”.
A prostrate marble statue of Dr. Sun seals his copper coffin.
To the west of the parking lot of Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum is the May-ling Palace built in 1931. Looking from above the Mausoleum Road resembles a necklace and the palace seems to be an emerald. It has been referred to as the “Official Residence on the Red Hill” because at one time it was the residence of the chairman of the National Government. Since later on Chiang Kai Shek and his wife Soong May-ling spent their holidays here it was renamed May-ling Palace.
The roof of the palace is decorated with green glazed tiles and carved with over 1,000 phoenixes. Under the eave are yellow walls, red pillars and lovely paintings. In the front of the building is a Buick car that was presented to Soong May-ling by the American government.
Zahn Garden is a wonderful traditional Chinese garden right in the heart of town. Visitors delight in the willows, acers, magnolias, bamboo, potted bonsai pines and a beautiful lawn. The garden also has been decorated with courtyards, pools, corridors and rockeries. Part of the garden is The Taiping History Museum.
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum was once home to Taiping officials. The museum displays maps that show the progress of the Taiping army, Taiping coins, weapons, uniforms and texts that describe the radical Taiping laws on agrarian reform, social law and cultural policy.
The Buddhist Jiming Temple was first built in 527 AD. during the Three Kingdom period.
Yaoshi Fo Pagoda rises seven stories tall and offers fantastic views over Xuanwu Lake. Entering the base of the pagoda you’ll see hundreds of gold Buddha figures in cabinets. At the rear of the temple you can take a relaxing walk along the city wall. There is a popular vegetarian restaurant on the premises.
Xuanwu Lake Park is a vast lake in a lovely 530-hectare park that has five interconnecting islands. The park has bonsai gardens, camphor and cherry-blossom trees, temples and bamboo groves. It sits at the foot of Mt. Zhongshan and is one of the three most famous lakes in Nanjing. The lake got its name because a black dragon was said to be on the lake.
Huan Isle has many willows, Ying Isle is famous for cherry blossoms, Liang Isle is where the annual grand traditional exhibition of chrysanthemums is held and Cui Isle has dark green pine, cypresses, willows and light green bamboos.
The Yangzi River Bridge opened on December 23, 1968 and is one of the longest bridges in China. It is a double-decker with a 4.5 km road on top and a train line below. On the approaches you can see socialist-realist sculptures. The easiest way to get on the bridge is through the Bridge Park. Unfortunately this bridge has become the world’s premier suicide site, surpassing even the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California in the U.S.
Zhōnghuá Gate has four rows of gates and could house a garrison of 3000 soldiers in vaults in the front gate building. Horse ramps lead up the side to the wall.
Presidential Palace after Taiping took over Nanjing the Mansion of the Heavenly King was built on the foundation of a former Ming-dynasty palace. The palace was reconstructed and is now known as the Presidential Palace and has a classical Ming garden.
The Ming Palace Ruins lie scattered about Wuchaomen Park. The palace was built by Zhu Yuanzhang and served as a template for Beijing’s Forbidden City. You can climb atop of the ruins of Meridian Gate. In the park you can see local residents practicing ballroom dancing while saxophonists, clarinet players and other musicians gather together in the resonant tunnels beneath the gate.
Visit the historic campus of Nanjing University. It is a lovely campus with traditional architecture, lovely trees and green spaces.
Towering above the eastern suburb of Nanjing is awesome Purple Mountain which is known as one of the four most famous mountains in southern China. It got its name because purple clouds can be seen at the top of the mountain. The mountain is also rich in historical and cultural relics. It covers an area of 12 square miles and has over two hundred scenic spots.
There are four core scenic areas among them Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum on the southern slope, Xiaoling Mausoleum to the west, the Linguu Temple Scenic area to the east and the Toutuo Ridge Scenic Area at the top of the mountain.
The Open-Air Music Hall is located southeast of the Dr. Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum Square. The hall was built in one year from 1932 to 1933. Musical performances and public speeches are held here. This semicircular hall is made of concrete and steel. At the center is the stage and in front is a banana-shaped lotus pond. The semicircular lawn can hold three thousand people. Visitors can relax on the surrounding lawn.
Don’t forget to buy some foodstuff for the lovely resident white pigeons.