Sight Seeing

Changchun Taoist Temple

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Changchun Taoist Temple is located at the south slope of Double Peak Hill, middle part of Huanghu Hill (The Snake Hill) in Wuchang district, Wuhan. It is one of the 10 famous Taoist jungles, renowned as a blessed place in the south of Yangtze River for generations. The temple worships Quanzhen, a branch of Taoism and is named after Qiu Chuji (whose Taoist monastic name is Chang Chunzi), an apprentice of the founder of Quanzhen Taoism, Wang Chongyang.

The temple was built in the Yuan Dynasty by the disciples of Qiu Chuji to commemorate Qiu (1148 AD -1227 AD), one of the seven northern immortals of Quanzhen Taoism and founder of Long Men Zong (a branch of Taoism). He saved the country and people from the war only by his words when the Yuan army went southward.

As a first-level protected cultural relic in Wuhan, Changchun Taoist Temple is not only a place for Taoists’ self-cultivation and religious activities, but also a scenic and elegant tourist resort. It boasts its long history, beautiful scenery, gorgeous mountains and blessed caves. Even the Lushan Mountain faraway in Jiangxi Province also built a lower house of Changchun Taoist Temple in history.

The 19th day of the first lunar month is the birthday of Chang Chunzi. Every year, the temple will hold a grand celebration--- Qiuzu Temple Fair. Wuhan folks call it the “Spring Greeting Festival”, also known as “Nine Swallows Festival.” The author of “Peach Blossom Fan”, Kong Shangren wrote a poem named Ditty of Nine Swallows and Bamboos that reads “after all the way through the Star bridge and clouds, failing to meet the sacred makes me unhappy” to describe the event. A poet in Qing Dynasty, Wang Boxin, also wrote a poem telling the repairs after destructions of wars and the vicissitudes of the Changchun Taoist Temple in history.

Changchun Taoist Temple was a bushy bamboo forest in the Three Kingdoms, and it was called “Zi Zhu Ridge”. The story of “the Bamboo Shoot Bloom” happened in Pang Xie Jia right beside the Changchun Taoist Temple with Meng Zong being the main character. Meng Zong Ancestral Temple was built in memory of this event. It is also said in the annals: “once there were yellow cranes flying in the black bamboo”. There is a White Crane Spring in the White Crane Well beside the Changchun Taoist Temple which is the main spot for cranes to get water, and it is also called “Elixir Forge of the immortal Lv” (It was sealed after the establishment of a Yangtze River Bridge in 1950s, but still exists.)

Many celebrities emerged in the Shi Zong period of Ming Dynasty in the Changchun Taoist Temple with many disciples following them. The full set Ming edition of Orthodox Taoist Scriptures collected in the temple is one of the four masterpieces all over the country before liberation.

Located in the gateway of Wuchang, Changchun Taoist Temple was time and again rebuilt after ruined in the wars. The Taiping Army has fought against the Qing troops in Wuchang for three times with the temple being its headquarters. The majority of Taiping Army regarded Buddhism and Taoism as heresies due to their faiths in Christian, which led to the destruction of Changchun Taoist Temple and Baotong Temple.

In 1864, the sixteenth master of Long Men Zong-He Hechun came here from Wudang Mountain to petition for the restoration of the temple and was sponsored by the imperial envoy Guan Wen and Chief Command of Jiangnan Region Li Shizong, which made the temple recover its original look as grand and magnificent.

Changchun Taoist Temple is also remembered for its wonderful chapter in Chinese history of revolution. The hatcher of the Revolution of 1911 once adopted this place as the cover-up for the preparation of the rise-up. In 1926, the Northern Expedition Army under the leadership of Ye Ting marched in Changchun Taoist Temple and set up the forefront headquarters in San Huang Hall. Besides, the associate director of the General Political Department in People’s Revolutionary Army Guo Moruo once lived here as well as mourned for the heroes of the northern expedition, including Deng Yanda who supervised operations there with his sleeves shot open by the bullets and the martyred Russian translator Ji Defu:

Tranquil as he is, he was shot with the bullet going through his head first and then his breast. Situated outside the Bingyang Gate, Changchun Taoist Temple has kept a record of the history.

the stone with two Chinese characters “Gan Tang” conferred by Emperor Qian Long

The three wonders of Changchun Taoist Temple enjoy a worldwide fame, which include the one and the only tablet with celestial map on it, architectures with Tibetan and European styles as well as the stone inscription with two Chinese characters “Gan Tang” conferred by Emperor Qian Long. During the early post-liberation days, there were three such celestial map tablets engraved with “edict”, which had been kept by astronomers of Taoism. Among which, one is in Yuhuang Mountain in Hangzhou; one in a temple in Shaanxi; and the third, in Chang Chun Taoist Temple. The first two have been ruined during the Cultural Revolution, and only the third one has been kept as a rare astronomical relic. Changchun Taoist Temple is the only building with Tibetan and European styles. There are two reasons contributing to the result. One reason is that the imperial envoy helped to build the temple was a Manchu Chinese, who believed in Tibetan Buddhism. Influenced by it, the craftsman decorated the hall with Tibetan mascot-elephant and saffron crocus pattern. The other reason is that the temple’s president Hou Yongde, who once was a general under Zuo Zongtang, had been influenced by Western thoughts. He presided over the construction of Daozang Pavilion, which combined both the European and Chinese architectural styles. The traditional ornamental design on the eaves was modeled by cement. That craftsmanship, having been lost to the world, is worth to be called a wonder. The stone inscription, with Emperor’s inscription, is also a wonder.

Nowadays, Changchun Taoist Temple has served as a gathering place for Taoists and also a tourist attraction in Wuhan. As an attraction, it was praised as a quiet blessed land, making people shuffled back and forth between history and modern civilization.