26 October 2014

108 BUDDHIST PAGODAS (青铜峡108塔)

A bright day to visit one of the China heritage, 108 pagodas situated 20 kilometers south of the city of Qingtongxia on the western bank of Qingtong Gorge, through which the Yellow River runs on its way across Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.  We had to take a boat across the river to reach the destination.

On the way to the harbour riots of purple chrysanthemums in full bloom

Burst of red from rose bushes

Motorized boat to take us to the destination

Calm weather and choppy water to carry us across

While sailing on the lake, tourists have a good chance to appreciate the beautiful landscapes of the lake as well as enjoy the gorge with the 108 pagodas on its slope.




The 108 Buddhist Pagodas lies at the east of Xiakou Mountain on the western shore of the Yellow River. They are the primary attractions of the tourism areas in Qingtongxia Reservoir near Yinchuan City.

All of them were built a pearl-shaped top covered with lime.  Due to the 108 dharma bodies, it had such name.  The 12 rows pagodas, with each row containing an odd number of pagodas starting from the top, are forming a huge triangle, providing an amazing view.

We huff and puff our way to the top in order to get a panoramic view of the whole place.  It was amazing view.

Below these magnificent pagodas, you can see a big dam across the roaring Yellow River with a lake created by the dam.

25 October 2014

XINJIANG FOOD

Food served was common fried dough and noodles, a staple food as we go further north.

Beautiful pyramid of deep-fried, twisted noodles known as Sanzi.  It is a snack made of wheat-flour dough and pulled into thin noodles.  Sanzi is common snack all over China, wherever the Hui (Chinese Muslims) minority live.

Springy noodles

Mutton herbal soup  -  Body warming food

Savoury mooncakes, filled with minced meat and candied melon

24 October 2014

WESTERN XIA IMPERIAL TOMBS

After visited the Xia Museum we continued to the imperial tombs which is a distance away.  We walked through a tree filled pathway towards the open plain where the tombs are.  The place is one of the largest and best preserved imperial graveyards in China.  They are located on the eastern slope of the Helan Mountain range, just south of the Gunzhong Pass. About 17,000 m² so far have been excavated, and efforts are continued to preserve the remains of this mysterious area.


A large marble sign indicating the tomb entrance.  A nice seat to cool oneself in such scorching weather

The West Xia Imperial Tombs, are shaped like giant beehives and dot the valleys of the region.  In the entire tomb area, there are 9 massive mausoleums, along with 250 lesser tombs.  The mausoleums hold the remains of the imperial leaders of the Western Xia Dynasty.

22 October 2014

WESTERN XIA MUSEUM

Some 770 years ago, in the vast areas of northwest China stood a feudal kingdom called "Western Xia" among the Song (960-1279) and Liao (916-1125) dynasties at the same time. The kingdom lasted for 189 years under 10 successive emperors.

In the 13th century, when Genghis Khan united Mongolia and the country gradually grew into a formidable power, he began the process of expansion and invasion.  And the Western Xia bore the brunt of the mighty Mongolian cavalries.  During 22 years, the Mongolians initiated six onslaughts against the Western Xia, of which four were headed by Genghis Khan himself. In 1227, the Mongolian warlord besieged Xingqing, the capital of the Western Xia.  When the city was captured, the Mongolians conducted a vengeful massacre.  The once powerful and civilized Western Xia Dynasty came to an end and the ethnic Dangxiang people had also disappeared.

Only the grand mausoleums under Helan Mountain still display the site's former prosperity.


The Western Xia dynasty were very first built by the founder of the Western Xia Kingdom (1038 to 1227), Li Yuanhao who built about 70 tombs; among which, one was for himself, and a few tombs for his relatives.  Western Xia Museum located near the entrance of Li's tomb.


Based on some excavations, each mausoleum had a unified layout, occupying an area of more than 100,000 square meters, surrounded by inner and outer walls. At each corner of the mausoleum gardens were watchtowers, providing visual indicators of the boundaries, serving functions similar to those of watchtowers of the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in Beijing


The Western Xia mausoleums are distributed on a gentle slope along the east base of the Helan Mountains. They are located in an area about 4 kilometers wider, east to west, and 9 kilometers up the slope, north to south, occupying an area of nearly 40 square kilometers.  All of the tombs have stairways or sloping paths leading to their coffin pits




Building materials, broken stone tablets, towers, glazed tiles, walls and steles with Western Xia or Han characters still remain, providing visitors with interesting information on the civilization.





Cultural artifacts and relics related to the ancient Western Xia were collected from across China and exhibited in the museum