Must-see on Mianshan Mountain: Dragon Head Temple Scenic Spot

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The Dragon Head Temple was originally called Tayantou (which translates to Pagoda Rock Head) because the Pagoda Courtyard of the King of Immateriality Buddha used to stand on the slope under the rock. One day during the Tang dynasty when Emperor Taizong Li Shimin came to Mianshan Mountain to pay homage to the mountain, he saw two dragons appear, so he renamed the temple Dragon Head Temple. The area around the Dragon Head Temple now has more than 20 historic sites, including the Temple of Guan Yu, a famous general in the Three Kingdoms period (A.D. 220-280).

The Hundred Dragon Screen

In the third year of the Wude reign period of the Tang dynasty, Li Shimin suffered a great setback in battle against Liu Wuzhou in Sparrow and Mouse Valley at the foot of Mianshan Mountain, and he was in danger. All of a sudden, the sound of a drumbeat came from the sky, and 108 warriors in white battle attire appeared from behind the Tang troops. Each of them was very intrepid. After a fierce fight, the troops led by Li Shimin defeated the enemy, and the 108 warriors in white clothes immediately turned into dragons and flew to Mianshan Mountain. Later Li Shimin learned that the Thunder God had sent the mystical warriors to help him, so he had the Hundred Dragons Screen built on Mianshan Mountain. The Hall of Universal Salvation

The Hall of Universal Salvation is one of the main attractions in Dragon Head Temple Scenic Area. The temple complex is composed of 10 different halls enshrining the 10 kings of the underworld and the King of Hell, the highest ruler of the netherworld. The figure standing beside the statues of the 10 kings is the judge of hell, who is in charge of the Book of Life and Death, while the statues with human bodies and the faces of horses or oxen are the servants of the King of Hell. The groups of painted sculptures below the 10 kings of the hell vividly display various scenes of the underworld.

The first thing that visitors to the temple will see upon entering is the gate of the Ghost City, which is guarded by a ghost soldier holding a sharp weapon standing at the gate-tower. After entering the Ghost City, visitors will see depictions of all kinds of methods of torture inflicted on the souls of the dead. Those who were robbers, thieves and bandits who killed people in order to rob them would be forced to climb a hill of knives. Those who sold their souls and bodies would be cut apart by a sharp saw. Those who were extravagant and wasteful, damaged public property, or wasted rice and flour would be ground by a mill stone. Those who refused to perform the filial duty of supporting their parents or who mistreated the elderly would be thrown into a pot of boiling oil. Those who were arrogant, slandered the gods and Buddha, who stole sacrificial offerings or who loved a luxurious, loose and idle life would be burned on a heated copper pillar.

At the Home-Gazing Terrace, those who were kind in their lifetime could look out over their homeland and their family members once again. The Home-Gazing Terrace is followed by the Silver Bridge, where the boy and girl attendants of fairies would lead the spirits of the dead across the bridge to be reincarnated. After crossing the bridge, the spirits had to drink a bowl of magic potion at Granny Meng's Restaurant to forget everything about their previous life and what they saw in hell. Then the deceased in the hell would walk out of the Fengdu Gate, migrate to the world of the living and be reincarnated.

Reward for Good Souls

This hall enshrines a statue of the Judge of Benevolence in the center, and statues of the Benevolent Merit Evaluator and the Secretary of the Underworld stand on both sides. These three are in charge of recording good deeds done on earth. Those who did good things in their lifetime would be reincarnated into officials of the state or persons of virtue.

Punishments of the Evil

This hall holds the statues of the judge and the merit evaluator in charge of punishing those who did bad things in their lifetime. The scenes in the hall are divided into two layers: The upper layer displays the world of the living, and the lower layer shows the underworld. Those who did evil things on earth would be punished in hell.

Town God Temple

The Town God is the guardian of the city. Every year, local people carry the statue of the Town God around their city or village on three tours of inspection, known as the "Town God's Three Inspections." The first inspection falls on Qingming Festival (also known as Tomb Sweeping Day), during which food and alms are offered to hungry ghosts. The second one occurs on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, when Town God investigates the cases of ghosts who were wrongly put to death or were murdered in order to allow them to be reincarnated as soon as possible. The third and final inspection falls on the first day of the 10th lunar month when all the crops are harvested and the Town God lets all the ghosts leave the city to enjoy themselves. On the Town God’s three inspection days, the people pay their respects to the deceased at their tombs and burn paper money for the dead.

South Heavenly Gate

South Heavenly Gate was built by Wen Yanbo, an outstanding chancellor of the imperial court, in the second year of the Yuanfeng reign period (1079) of the Northern Song dynasty. Wen composed the inscription written on the horizontal board above the gate, which reads, "All things on earth are flourishing." Tourists can climb a flight of 60 steps and stand in front of Zhenwu Temple, to get a bird's-eye view of the terraced fields and villages on the plain far below.

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