Nanjing's Purple Mountain 

Written by Jun 23, 2004 09:06
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The Xiaoling Tomb

Of all the places one can go to in Nanjing...the Purple Mountain is a must! It has so many historical sites that will leave you spell-bound! I was fortunate to have had my first solo tour here last November when the trees still had their leaves and the cold of winter was not yet felt. It opened my eyes to the wonders China has yet to offer. The following places are what I considered to have had a lasting impression.

1. Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty- otherwise known as the Tomb of Filial Piety, it functions as a sepulcher for Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It was actually built 600 years ago. The mausoleum consists of two major sections namely the Gateway of Dismounting Horse where all officials dismount upon visiting the emperor and the tomb itself which has a grand red wall, 22.5 kim long enclosing the entire tomb area!

What I really liked about this place is the sacred way which is lined on both sides with 12 pairs of giant stone animals of 6 kinds! Each of the pairs is alternately kneeling and standing which indicates that they are on duty...obviously when one pair is tired, it rests by kneeling while the next pair stands to take post! The purpose of placing the animals there is to show the royal magnificence and the emperor's diginity, to drive away evil spirits, and to guard the tomb! The 1st pair is the lions, symbolizing power. The 2nd pair is what the Chinese call Xiezhi which is a unicorn-shaped mythical animal said to be clever and capable of distinguishing between good and evil. A pair of camels comes next, known to be boats of the desert and symbolizes prosperity. Followed by the pair of elephants symbolizing peace. There is also the pair of horses to indicate loyalty. Lastly are the Kylins or simply Chinese unicorn believed to represent good luck! Here's a was said that due to the intense weight of the stone animals (some are over 80 tons), workers had to splash water on the ground during winter. Once frozen, the animals were pushed to their present location!

You can easily mount one of these huge animals and have your picture taken. It's a souvenir you can't easily push out of your mind!

The Linggu Pagoda

From a distance, you can already see this majestic wonder! Built in 1933, it served as a memorial for the officials and men killed in wars. It is octagonal in shape measuring over 60 m in height with a corridor encircled by stone rails on each floor. This will prevent you from seeing what's below and will further make you think that it isn't too high! For those having acrophobia, just don't go to the railing and look might suddenly suffer from fright! This nine-storeyed pagoda gives the visitor a spectacular view of the mountain as well as the city from another perspective. If you are near sighted and can spare a little amount, they have binoculars and telescopes on the last floor for you to see the wonders found in the area! There is a total of 252 steps that winds thru all the nine floors...this might make you feel dizzy as you ascend. While going up, don't fail to notice the writings on the wall. There are 3 characters meaning "Linggu Pagoda" on the lintel of the front door and another 3 saying "Where there is a will, there is a way" inscribed at the lintel of the back door.

If you are fond of famous speeches by famous people, carefully look closely at the inner walls. From the second floor to the fourth are inlaid with Dr. SunYat Sen's farewell speech just before the starting of the North Expedition War while the inner walls from the fifth to the eighth floor are inlaid the opening speech! But you have to have a lot of knowledge on Chinese calligraphy to be able to make them out.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Mausoleum

The most favored and breath-taking attraction in Nanjing! Located in the eastern suburb of the city, it sits gracefully on the slope of the Purple Mountain. This work of wonder took over 3 years which began on March 12, 1926 and had its completion in 1929 when Dr. Sun Yat Sen's remains were transferred from Beijing and buried at the present site on June 1. The cost, by the way, amounted to a whooping 1.5 million dollars!

The mausoleum is amazingly designed in the shape of a liberty bell with the purpose of reminding the people never to become self-contented! It has a total of 392 steps and 10 platforms between the gateway to the main entrance and tomb vault. The blue glazed tile roofs of the granite and marbled buildings are a sight to behold perfectly blending with the lush green environment!

The platforms and stone benches are there to give your feet some needed rest, but what is so architecturally puzzling about this is that you won't see them as you ascend! If you look up, you will only see a series of continous steps. The idea was to remind the visitor of Dr. Sun's famous words:"The revolution has not yet succeeded, comrade should not stop your efforts."

As you go further, you will notice the 73.33 m. memorial hall with the following inscriptions "nationalism, democratic rights, and people's livelihood" This is, of course, in Chinese writing! Inside, you will be captured by the magnificence of the Italian marble statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen mounted on a pedestal carved in bas-relief. Beyond the memorial hall is the tomb vault. As you look down, you will be allured to see Dr. Sun's marble statue with his body buried 5m. underneath.

On your way down, you might wonder why this great man was buried in Nanjing instead of his hometown in Guangdong. From what I've heard, Dr. Sun was very much enthralled by the beauty of the area when he went hunting at the site. He said" I wish I could be bestowed a piece of land by the people and be buried here after my death." He once again expressed this wish while he lay in his deathbed!

A great resting place for a great man...wouldn't you say? Surely if I was given a chance to be buried in the same place...I don't like to say...the opportunity is only open to great people with great contributions...something all of us deem to achieve...let us therefore, continue with our efforts... who knows what the future brings.

 More Nanjing Travel Reviews
Comments (2)


Dec 8, 2012 17:59 Reply

Mrs.ROBIN from Australia said:

These comments are a great help in organizing my travel to Nanjing late next year.


May 30, 2006 01:44 Reply

KLUE said:

Thank you for your informative comments. The details and contexts you provide are quite interesting. I will take your article with me on my trip. Klue

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