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Ancient Temple to Head for a New Home
A 1,700-year-old temple on the banks of the Yangtze River will soon be perched high above the flow after it is moved 32 kilometers into the hills to make room for the Three Gorges Dam Project.

The State-level-protected Zhang Fei Temple, located in Yunyang County of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, is dedicated to an ancient renowned hero -- General Zhang Fei -- who lived in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280).

Tourists said farewell to the ancient general's old home at the foot of Feifeng Mountain yesterday. The temple is now closed and ready to move to its new place in Panshi township of Chongqing, according to Wen Xiaohua, an official with the Cultural Relics Administration of Yunyang County.

The relocation, expected to cost 70 million yuan (US$8.5 million), is the largest building movement associated with the Three Gorges project, which entails construction of the world's largest hydropower station.

When the reservoir is put into operation next year, hundreds of cultural relics could be inundated.

China plans to allocate around 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) to preserve and relocate these historical treasures, among which the Zhang Fei Temple ranks at the top.

The ancient temple underwent several renovations during the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (960-1911). Its combination of architectural styles, such as Jieyilou, Wangyunxuan and Deyueting, is regarded as a historical masterpiece.

Moreover, the temple houses a number of valuable relics, including inscriptions, sculptures, paintings and calligraphies by famous ancient figures such as Yan Zhenqing and Su Shi.

Wen said the relocation project technicians would first record the exact position of every component of the temple, disassemble them, and then reassemble the temple, faithfully recreating its ancient appearance, at the new site.

At the same time, 126 ancient trees at the old site will be moved and replanted according to their previous layout.

Experts from prestigious Tsinghua University and other institutions said the project will try to retain the precious cultural and historic value of the temple, as well as that of the landscape around it, although the original location is being destroyed.

The relocated Zhang Fei Temple, on the southern bank of the Yangtze River as before, will open to the public next July.

(China Daily October 10, 2002)

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