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Inner Mongolia's blue city of temples
Hohhot, which means the "blue city" in Mongolian, is also known as the city of temples for its dozens of places of worship. A local Hohhot saying goes, "There are eight big temples, seven small temples and 55 simple temples in Hohhot." But those words offer only a glimpse into the multitude of temples in the city. Here we recommend several temples travelers can hit on a one or two-day stay in the city. The temples offer a chance to learn more about Buddhist culture.

Dazhao Temple, the oldest and largest Buddha temple

Dazhao Temple, also called Wuliang Temple, is the oldest building and the largest temple in Hohhot. It is located in the old section of Hohhot and was built in 1580 during Ming Dynasty. It is one of the biggest and best preserved temples in Hohhot.

It was also referred as the Silver Buddha Temple for its rare silver statue of Sakyamuni that measures 2.55 meters high. The Silver Buddha statue was dedicated by the third Tibetan Dalai Lama when he visited Dazhao Temple in 1586. The city became a religious center for people from all over Mongolia. It was also visited by Emperor Kangxi during the early part of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The construction of the temple was completed in 1580 during Ming Dynasty (1368-1644AD) and it is the oldest Lamaist temple in Inner Mongolia. Despite major reconstruction in 1640, the original architectural style has been preserved.

The temple is now a well-known tourist attraction for its impressive buildings, splendid statues, delicate frescoes, musical instruments and fine collection of Buddhist scriptures. Its most notable relics are the "Three Marvelous Treasures", a title given to the Silver Buddha, the carved dragons on the huge golden pillars by the sides of the statues and the murals commemorating the Emperor's visit. The area outside Dazhao Temple has adobe houses, which are typically low and squat with decorated glass windows. There is one street called "Saishang Laojie" which is worth a visit. A lot of Mongolian handicrafts and relics are available there for a reasonable price-if you haggle.

Where: Dazhaoqian Jie, Yuquan District

Getting there: take bus 1, 6, 31, 19, 58 or a taxi

Open: 8 am-6 pm

Cost: 30 yuan

Tel: 0471-6303154

Wusutu Temple, a serene temple

Wusutu Temple is composed of five temples: Yingyuan, Faxi, Changshou, Guangshou and Luohan. The five temples are very close to each other and are magnificently constructed. The design and construction were all done by Mongolians.

The temple's name means "close to water" in Mongolian. It is located south of Daqing Moutain in Wusutu Village, 13 kilometers from the city. The temple is named after the village.

Wusutu Temple is beautiful all year round, with flowers blooming in spring, green almond trees in summer, yellow leaves in autumn and snowy mountains in winter. It is one of the eight famous sights of old Hohhot.

The temple has many almond trees, which are reflected in the red walls of the temple buildings.

The engraved scripture of Songbakanbu is housed in Wusutu temple. The scripture is 49 centimeters long and seven centimeters wide. There are about 3,455 pieces which tell about Buddhism, law, logic, medicine and math.

Where: 13 kilometers northwest of Hohhot

Getting there: Take taxi

Open: 8 am ¨C 6 pmCost: 25 yuan

Five-Pagoda Temple, a uniquely constructed temple

Five-Pagoda Temple is on Wutasi Hou Jie, Yuquan District, Hohhot. The construction of the temple began in the 5th year of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty. The Pagoda is 16.5-meters-high and looks like a Buddha's Warrior Atendant¡¯s seat, with five exquisite pagodas on the base. With more than 1,560 relief sculptures of Buddha engraved on the five pagodas, the temple has a reputation for being a "10,000-Buddha Tower." In addition, the are images of Bodhisattva, the four Devarajas, Buddhist Saints, Heavenly Ladies, holy birds and animals, and engraved scriptures written in Mongolian, Tibetan and Sanskrit on the walls of the pagodas. On the wall facing the temple there are three marble relief sculptures, including a plain sphere marked with Mongolian inscriptions.

Where: Wutasi Hou Jie, Yuquan District

Getting there: By Bus1, 27, 31, 26, 50

Open: 8 am ¨C 6 pmCost: 30 yuan

Tel: 0471-597 2640

Xilitu Temple, largest lama temple

Xilitu Temple was built during the reign of Ming Emperor Wanli. Its name means ¡°the first seat," or "sacred seat," in Mongolian. Located in the old city blocks, Shitou Lane, Yuquan district of Hohhot, Xilitu Temple occupies about 5,000 square meters and has a south-facing gate. The temple is a traditional Han construction. It has a mountain gate and a main hall standing in an axis, side halls, storehouses and bell and drum towers laid out symmetrically in its wings. The main hall contains a sutra hall and a Buddha worship hall.

There are four temples affiliated with Xilitu: Guangshou, Yong'an, Puhui and Yanxi. Xilitu Temple is the name for all four.Xilitu Temple is the most exquisitely preserved temple in Hohhot. The magnificent architecture and colored paintings make it a popular tourist destination. A lot of religious activities and Buddhist services are held there every year.

It is only about 100 meters away from Dazhao Temple, so it is convenient to visit both.

Where: Danan Jie 112, Yuquan District

Getting there: take bus 6 or taxi

Open: 8:30 am-6 pm

Cost: 35 yuan

Tel: 0471-631 0332
source: (Li Fenghua)

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