Western Hill and Dragon Gate
Located approximately 15 kilometers from Kunming, the Western Hill spread out across a long wedge of parkland on the western side of Lake Dianchi. The hills' undulating outline is thought to resemble a reclining woman with tresses of hair flowing into the sea. Therefore, they are also known as the "Sleeping Beauty Hill".
A cable car is available for tourists, which can carry them to the summit. On the top of the hill lies Sanqing Temple and it was once a temple dedicated to the three main Taoist deities. Thirteen ancient wooden structures built on the precipitous cliff are very impressive.
Further up the temple is Dragon Gate, the highlight of the Western Hill. Sculptures, corridors, pavilions and a group of grottoes, including the biggest Phoenix Cliff Grotto, also called "Old Rock Cave" - was completed during the Ming Dynasty and features a mythological phoenix with spread wings. Between 1781 and 1835, Taoist monk Wu Laiqing and his co-workers continued to dig a corridor and Ciyun Cave from the Cliff. A few years' later, some local people joined the efforts. But the cost was much greater than they expected.
Dragon Gate and the Datian Temple, also called "New Rock Cave", only were finished 72 years later. It is said that a craftsman who spent over 20 years on carving a nearby statue carelessly made a mistake while making finishing touches and became so frustrated that he jumped off the cliff. The tunnel along the outer cliff edge is so narrow that only two persons can squeeze by at a time. The vista is fabulous - the water is teased by the wind and sparkled in the sunshine like a huge diamond.
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