Dragon Gate is a cluster of Taosim stone carvings on the hillside of Western Hills by Dianchi Lake in Kunming, including stone paths, stone grottoes, stone Buddha, etc. The entire project is carved on a piece of natural cliff, taking 72 years from 1781 to 1853, and starting from the north of the Sanqing Pavilion to the south of the “Datian Pavilion”, characterized by “strange, unique, dangerous and secluded”. There is a saying – “If you do not visit Western Hills, you haven’t visited Kunming; if you do not come to Dragon Gate, you haven't been to Western Hills”. In spite of the stone carvings, Dragon Gate is also the best site to overlook the Dianchi Lake.
What to See at Dragon Gate
Stone Tunnels and Stone Paths
Most stone paths and stone tunnels here were hammered manually. At some parts, the tunnel only allows one visitor to pass by; while at some parts, one needs to bend over to get through. The exterior stone path is fenced, against which you can look outside and overlook the Dianchi Lake.
Stone Rooms and Stone Chambers
The famous ones include “Lanhaichu”, meaning the place to appreciate sea; “Ciyun Cave” which is dedicated to the bodhisattva; and Yunhua Cave. Usually there are Chinese inscriptions engraved inside these stone rooms. The ceiling of “Lanhaichu” is also carved with phoenix pattern. Ciyun Cave is divided into two halls; the front hall is big and bright and the back hall is like a room worshipping the bodhisattva. Advance from the Ciyun Cave to the south for about 40 meters (44 yards), you will reach Yunhua Cave; where the light can shine in through the cave wall. The carving of Yunhua Cave started from 1840 and lasted for 9 years.
This is the highest point of Dragon Gate. The carvings here are extremely exquisite. The “Dragon Gate” archway was craved into the head of a dragon and painted colorfully. The column is carved with “yuanbao”, ancient Chinese coin pattern; it is said that it can help people to be rich and prosperous, therefore, visitors like to touch it. Inside Datian Pavilion, there is vivid stone Buddha, peach tree, leaves, etc. Outside, there is a semicircle platform, standing on which you can have a panoramic view of the whole Dianchi Lake.
How to get to Dragon Gate
1. Take Dragon Gate cable car from the foot of Western Hills to reach the upper terminus and then walk down to Dragon Gate;
2. Take sightseeing battery car to Sanqing Pavilion, then walk there;
3. Walk along the batter car road from the foot of Western Hills to get there; it takes about 15 minutes.
|Admission Fee||Free for entering Western Hills; CNY 30 for Dragon Gate Grottoes|
|Dragon Gate Ropeway||CNY 25 for a one-way ride|
|Sight-seeing Battery Car||CNY 10 for a one-way ride|
|Tourist Bus||CNY 12.5 for a single trip and CNY 25 for a round trip|
|Opening Hours||8:30 - 17:30|