Posts Tagged With: Temple of Hell


We fly to Chonquin, a big city in the Szechuan area of China. The food in this province is known for its use of chilies and  we will have spicy food. Szechuan is known for the best curries both fruit and meat. From the city we are bused to our ship landing at Fengdu.

On the way, the bus stops at  an electric car charging station. China doesn’t mess around when it comes to foreseeing where the future is taking us. They have so few cars on the road yet they are building infrastructure of the future-now!  And, they do it with charming detail in the last-forever roof.

From the bus parking  lot we walk down 100 steps to the landing, then cross this pontoon bridge and enter the belly of the ship.  Porters haul our luggage, and once settled we walk back across the bridge to the parking lot and climb another 200 steps up to visit the Temple of Hell. We joke that the climb is what gave it the name.


As we get close to the temple, we see grotesque, moss-covered figures lining the stairs.

We can’t read the inscriptions, but Viki explained to us that this Tang Dynasty Temple is reversed from a Ching Dynasty Temple. Everything here is backwards, like Christianity, you suffer for bad behavior and are re-incarnated to a higher plane (or heaven)  for good behavior.

There were so many of these figures, I wish I had taken pictures of all of them and learned what each one means.

From the temple plaza, you have three stairways to choose from to enter the grounds of  the temple. One is for women, one is for men and the other is for the monks.

The roof details and even the colors are different from other Temples we’ve seen.

We walked the garden which had odd shapes and unusual colors, twisted arches and tests of skill.

The first test of skill was the Xing Shen Stone. The idea is to balance a 90 pound stone on top of a 200 pound stone.

Mark Maurer, a big strong guy from our group, gave it a try.

He succeeded but nobody else wanted to give it a try. His success will heal a broken heart. The tortured sign in English describing the feat was a hoot.

We tried a balance feat.

You try to stand on one foot on a ball on a hard flat surface for nine seconds. To succeed is to give you a long life. None of us could do it.

The pagoda was beautiful but had none of the markings we’ve seen on others.

In the dungeon, figures behind bars are in hell and suffering. We realized that this temple would not be painted and prettied up for the 2008 Olympics. Even so, it was enjoyable and definitely an unusual place.

From the temple garden we could look down at our ship below through the mist. Another phase of our journey was about to begin. The fabulous Yangtze  River.


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The second phase of our trip to China in October of 2006 began with an early morning flight to the industrial city of Chong Quing.  We walked from the landing (visible in the distance) across this pontoon bridge, settled our luggage aboard and then walked back across the pontoons to visit the Hell Pagoda from the Tang Dynasty.

First we climbed 200 stairs up the side of a mountain. The view of our landing below in the misty rain was exhilarating after our breathless climb. .

As we neared the temple, tortured statues lined the steps.

There was about  30 of them and their meaning was unclear.

Our guide explained that this old Tang Temple is backwards from normal for modern Chinese. Almost like Christianity, you suffer for bad behavior and are re-incarnated to a higher plane for good behavior.  On our bridge to the temple grounds above, one side is for women, the other for men, unusual.

Even the colors here are different, blue and gold instead of the preferred and popular red and gold. The roof is guarded by a dragon, though.

The main pagoda has a wild geese  for the roof  decoration, in remembrance of the hungry monk at the Little Wildgoose Pagoda.   A couple of smaller pagodas had dragons.

Mark Maurur from our group tried balancing the Xing Chen Stone. The bottom stone weighs about 200 pounds, the top stone about 90 pounds. If you are able to balance it, it will cure you of heart problems the legend claims.

Mark  succeeded, but no one else attempted. I guess they weren’t worried about heart problems. The cure legend is unclear. Does it cure heart disease?  Or the misery of lost love?

All of us attempted the balancing ball. A perfectly round ball on a perfectly flat surface. If you can maintain balance for nine seconds, you will have a long life. I guess we are all destined to die young.

In  the Hell Temple, you come across  things that are twisted and not uniform so different from the ying and yang of balance in Chinese culture.

In the temple dungeon was a ghastly parade of fearful statues behind bars, a warning to behave or else. The Tang Dynasty incorporated fear in their religion to elicit good behaviors, as most religions do. Modern Buddhism encourages good deeds while reminding you of your human weaknesses, rather than fear of punishment, if I understand it correctly.

On the way back down the hill, I was tempted to give this young child a pat.  It was the only friendly looking statue in the bunch.

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