Baoguo Temple, one of the earliest historical site under State protection, is the first scenic spot in Ningbo opened to the tourists. With the antique and simple constructions and lush greeneries, the temple features a rare and ultimate combination of cultural and ecological charms. It is located midway up Lingshan Mountain in Jiangbei District of Ningbo among the exuberance of mountain vegetations, fresh air and thriving and pine tress hidden among the misty and green mountain.
Baoguo Temple has a long history. Story has it that, during Jianwu Period of East Han Dynasty, General Zhan Yi and his son Zhang Qifang loved the nice mountains and clear water here so much that they retired to here and lived in this mountain in seclusion. As the Buddhism was introduced, their houses were built into temples. Because the temple stood on Lingshan Mountain, it acquired its original name--Lingshan Temple. However, an imperial edict was released in 845, the fifth year during Huichang Period of Tang Dynasty, to destroy all the temples in China, of which the Lingshan Temple was one. In 880, Lingshan Temple was restored and renamed Baoguo Temple. The temple is renowned not so much for the inherent religion as for the incredibly exquisite architecture our forefathers put up 1,000 years ago. As the essence of Baoguo Temple, the Precious Hall of the Great Hero, also named Beamless Hall, was reconstructed in 1013 and is one of the oldest and best-preserved wooden constructions south of Yangtze River. In the 23rd year in the Kangxi reign of Qing Dynasty, overlapped eaves were added to the hall on all sides, looking as if the eaves were resting on the mountain. Then why the name "Beamless Temple"? It is not because there are no beams in the hall (There are beams in the hall, although they are obscured by the sunk panels and ceilings.), but because in Chinese pronunciation "Beamless Palace" and "Measureless Longevity Buddha" ever worshipped are homonymic. The Grand Palace has its unique features in the architectural perspective: ①In a plane view, the depth of the temple exceeds the width and the temple looks like a vertical oblong. ②Three hollowed-out sunk panels are installed on the roof of front dale.③The complicated dougong structure is employed in the temple construction. Without using any nail, dougong and ang are elaborately joined together with tenons. The whole hall stands stable and elegant and is capable of resisting winds and shocks. ④The pole is of distinctive style. It is composed of pieces of wood and looks like the melon-edge. The center of pole is made up of four mini-poles with four wooden bars around them. This makes it possible to save wood and keep the pole beautiful. ⑤ Asymmetry. On the west pole of the Buddha seat is the square wood ludou, while on the east is the round stone ludou.
The Precious Hall of the Great Hero in Baoguo Temple has a very high historic and artistic value and is a typical building made according to The Art of Construction written in Song Dynasty, reflecting the unique architectural style of age and the high level of the mechanics research. Thus there are a preponderance of eulogies by Chinese ancient people in The Record of Baoguo Temple that speaks highly of the structure, such as "In the mountains lies the old hall ingeniously built, and it stands there with all majesty." and "Man should boast of its art and dogong deserves the awe forever"
The wonder of the Hall also lies in that no birds has ever perched inside, no rats ever entered the hall, no spiders ever spun and no dust ever covered the beam. What makes the miracle? Some people try to find the explanation from the scents produced by the building material of the palace---Chinese pistache. Some try to owe this to the air convection. However, no conclusion is reached so far.
Reputed for its architectural design, Baoguo Temple integrates the ancient architectural skills of all dynasties such as Han (Biaoqijing Building), Tang (Scripture pagoda), Song (Beamless Hall), Ming (Yingxun Mansion), Qing (Hall of Heavenly Kings, Guanyin Hall, Bell Tower and Drum Tower) and the Republic of China (Buddhist Classics Tower). The impressive temple covers an area of 20,000 m2 and holds a rich storage of historical relics. There are 17 exhibition halls altogether in the temple that are open to tourists all the year round, including the exhibition of outstanding inventions and discoveries of science & technology in the 20th century, art show of Guanyin Buddha statues of all dynasties, international exchange gifts show, Mingzhou wedding customs show, bronze works show, royal gifts show, inscriptions on bricked screens, Ningbo-style furniture shown and painting and calligraphy show of middle school students. Tourists may beat the drum, ring the bell and play games here.
The most striking part of all the historical relics is the Ningbo bridal sedan chair in the Mingzhou wedding customs hall. The bride would sit in the sedan chair in old times. The bridal sedan chair used in Ningbo was the best at the time and was carried by 16 persons by turns and was dazzlingly brilliant and gorgeous with delicate carvings of over 300 figures in the story of Jin Jiqing. The 11-layered chair is 2.9 meters in height. Carvings on each layer was made in a different and delicate style. The carved figures would wobble and clank when the chair was lifted. The married ladies would say proudly, "I came on Ningbo bridal sedan chair."
You can expect to see many a precious gift in the gift hall of international friendship. In the long and frequent intercourse with other nations in the world, China has been presented with a quantity of valuable gifts by alien state leaders, governmental and non-governmental organizations and celebrities. The gifts include the woodcarving of mother and child deer from Gambia, double-crane tray set from Japan. These gifts not only serve as the witness of the history and stand for the friendship between Chinese people and the people from all around the world, but also show the various traditional cultures and art styles of different nations. Here tourists are expected to have widen their vision on the world.
In the exhibition hall of bronze works are the bronze figures of buddha and the sacrificial bronze articles of Confucius Temple, made in the 12th year of Tongzhi Period. The sacrificial articles of Confucius Temple consist of 16 bronze bells, 14 inverted bells, 2 special bells, elephant cup, ox cup and so on. The bells seem to be of same size, but are actually of different thickness so as to produce various sound. The buddha figures also feature different sizes and shapes, which represent the characteristics and styles of different historical stages.
The 73-hectare Lingshan Scenic Area is scattered with more than 10 scenic spots such as Linglong Spring, Overlapped-scene Platform, Qingzhang Pavilion and God's Bridge. With a charming river and mysterious spring close by, visitors would find himself relishing the flourishing trees and fresh air in an environment-friendly tourist resort.
Baoguo Temple also boasts the convenient access and moderate charges on tourists. With all its natural vantages and cultural distinctions, it is of course your best choice for sight-seeing and all other leisure activities.
Come on, my dear friends. Let's explore the natural beauties and mysteries; let's stand in awe of the time-honored civilization here and return to nature for a while.
Address: Hongtang Town, Jiangbei District, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province
Postal code: 315033
Tel. no.: (0574) 87586317