Shengyuan Temple – with a history of over 1,300 years
Last Update: 20th October 2020
Lying in Qingdong Village, Xizhou Town, Shengyuan Temple was originally built in the late Sui Dynasty (581 – 618). It is located around 20 kilometers north of Dali Old Town. The temple was renovated for several times in the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1912) Dynasties. It is the relatively large Buddhist complex in Dali. It is typical of the buildings of Bai people, offering a large screen wall with a variety of decorations which is connected with the gate.
Shengyuan Temple Fast Facts
- Chinese Name: Shengyuansi (圣源寺)
- Location: Qingdong Village, Xizhou Town
- Things to do there: Photography, Buddhism, History of Nanzhao Kingdom
- Who visits: Photographers, Adventure Enthusiasts, Buddhist Believers
- Time required: 1 – 2 x hours
The existing Shengyuan Temple complex is composed of Shendu Temple, the main hall and Avalokitesvara Pavilion. The 21 wooden lattice doors of the main hall are carved with fine reliefs demonstrating different stories. With simple words on, the doors show a legend of ‘Origins of the Bai Kingdom’.
Shendu Temple is a famed patron god temple to the Bai people among locals. It is said that the King of Five-hundred Gods with the highest position in the monastery rules the patron gods of the 71 villages in the surrounding area. The existing temple was rebuilt in 1885. The main hall consists of 3 rooms. From the lunar 23rd to the 25th of April, locals from more than 100 villages around Erhai Lake always gather in the temple to celebrate the Raosanling Festival. With fine makeup, the Bai people at all ages dress themselves up. In a long line, they dance and sing from the Jingui Temple and the Patron God Temple of Majiuyi near Erhai Lake on the lunar 23rd of April and arrive at Shendu Temple next day. They will sing and dance day and night in front of the temple.
Formerly functioning as the bell tower of Shengyuan Temple, the Avalokitesvara Pavilion stands 15 meters southwest of the temple. When the temple was renovated in the Period of Kangxi Emperor (1622 – 1722), the tower was separated from the temple by a wall. The two-storey wooden pavilion has a double-eave roof with wood-imitation brackets of brick carvings. It features a style in the early Ming Dynasty.
If you are interested to know more about Bai culture, it is recommended that you explore the temple on the lunar 24th of April.
The best months to visit are from April to October.
There is no direct bus from Dali to Shengyuan Temple. The only option is to rent a vehicle.
- Opening hours: 07:00 – 18:00
- As at 20th October 2020, the entrance pricing to the temple is free of charge.
- Please keep quiet in the temple.
- Please wear the sunscreen cream and sunglasses.
- It is suggested that you explore other sites in Xizhou Town together with the temple.