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September 12, 2018

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Temple praised by historical figures

On Xiangshan Mountain, right next to the Longmen Grottoes, the 1,500-year-old Xiangshan Temple attracts visitors who have finished sightseeing at the grottoes.

The temple might not be as famous as the grottoes, but it has won the favor of many historical figures. Wu Zetian, the only Empress in Chinese history, ordered to renovate the temple after she took the sovereignty in Luoyang and often visited and stayed here.

Writer Bai Juyi (AD 772-846) also paid to restore the temple and collected more than 5,000 scrolls of Buddhism scriptures to donate to the temple. After he died, he was buried right next to the temple on the Pipa Peak of Xiangshan Mountain, which is called “Baiyuan Garden” today.

Hundreds of years later, Emperor Qianlong (1711-99) of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) also visited the temple and praised it as “the best temple among dozens in Longmen.” He wrote an inscription that is still kept in the temple today.

Different from most Zen temples, which usually use yellow and red as dominant hues, the buildings in the temple are in a more colorful Tang Dynasty style.

The most notable building in the temple, however, is a modern style villa that seems incompatible with the rest. The two-story building is called “Chiang-Soong Villa” and was built in the 1930s by the Luoyang government to celebrate the 50th birthday of Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975), former chief of Kuomintang.

In fact, Chiang and his wife Soong Mei-ling (1897-2003) only stayed for 36 days in the villa and the birthday celebration became a get-together of Kuomintang senior generals.


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