Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon (Huanglong Guguan), Guangdong

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The Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon ( 黃龍古殿 Huanglong Guguan ) is situated to the west of Mt Luohu in Boluo County, Guangdong province. The Yellow Dragon Grotto ( 黃龍洞 Guanglong Dong ), the predecessor of the temple, is the old site of Ge Hong's Guqing temple of the Jin dynasty, located to the west of Mt Luohu. The sovereign of the Southern Han of the Five Dynasties once dreamed of a Divine Man ( 神人 Shenren ) who gave him advice, saying, "Where two peaks overlap opposite to where a river flows, you may construct a temple". So he sought the place and built the Heavenly Flower Temple ( 天華宮 Tianhua Gong ) there. During the years of Jiajing of the Ming dynasty, Zhan Ruoshui, a great master of the Neo-Confucian philosophical school, set up the Shrine of the Four Persons of Virtue ( 四賢祠 Sixian Dian ) at this place for the cult of the four scholars of the past, namely Zhou Dunyi, Li Yanping, Luo Qingshun, and Chen Baisha. During the years of Kangxi of the Qing dynasty, the adept Zhang Miaosheng of the Mt Lao sect chose to found the Yellow Dragon Temple here and took it as an Enclosure of the Dao ( 道場 Daochang ). Since then the Yellow Dragon Temple began to take shape.


Having passed the first decorated archway halfway up the mountain, you may find Chinese redbuds, flamboyant trees and green pines that line both sides of the way and a tortuous mountain path. Then passing two other simple but elegant decorated archways, you can reach the Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon.


On the right side of the ancient temple, the small shops, parking lot, the Rose-tinted Clouds Garden, the Ancestors Hall, the Clouds and Pines Vegetarian Restaurant, the Splendid Light Pavilion, the Decorated Archway of the Eastern Tower and the Blissful Realms, and the Immortal Garden are linked to form an integrated whole. On the left side, descending step by step, you may find a small bridge crossing a stream with a Cinnabar Well by its side. It is said that the water can cure sickness and save the ill, so it is called the miraculous elixir. Less than ten feet away is the Kind and Benevolent Pavilion, in front of which there is a pond for setting free animals. The main body of the Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon consists of the Hall of the Three Pristine Ones ( 三清殿 Sanqing Dian ) and the Three Masters Hall ( 三師殿 Sanshi Dian ). The great Three Masters Hall is a group of circular buildings, including the Peiyuan Studio and the Baopu Studio on the eastern and western sides of the main hall, and the Doctrine Protection Hall ( 護法殿 Hufa Dian ) in the front. The unsophisticated, solemn and respectful great hall reflects the Daoist idea of returning to simplicity and perfection. Chiefly worshiped in the main hall are Patriarch ( 祖師 Zushi ) Lü Chunyang, Patriarch Wang Chongyang and Patriarch Qiu Chuji. Worshiped on the two sides of the three masters are the Primordial Sovereign of The Elderly Dipper Lady ( 斗姥元君 Doumu Yuanjun ) and Huang Yeren, who secured Dao and Immortality on Mt Luofu respectively. Chiefly worshiped in the Doctrine Protection Hall is the Doctrine Protection Spirit, Numinous Official ( 靈官 lingguan ) Wang, on whose left and right are Marshals Heng and Ha. In front of the gate of the great Three Masters Hall, a large platform can hold several thousands of devotees at the celebrations on festivals. Below the platform, there is a place for the pilgrims to rest. Leaning on the balustrades and looking far into the distance, the pilgrims can have a panoramic view of the Eastern River and the fields. Descending step by step to the Sublime Lotus Pond, they may see red and white lotuses contending in beauty. When the cool breeze gently blows, the lotuses exhale delicate fragrances. The natural stone tortoise in the pond and the nine porcelain cranes in different shapes and flavors form a landscape painting that denotes the longevity symbolized by the tortoise and the crane. Schools of fish in the pond play among the lotus leaves so leisurely and comfortably that they forget about the world. Carved on a horizontal wall beside the pond are the twenty-four stories about filial piety. Above the fresco shines "Mt Luohu, the seventh Grotto Heaven" ( 洞天 Dongtian ). Further down the mountain path are the Dragon Bead Pavilion and the Waterfall Lookout Pavilion, where it is particularly pleasant to watch the waterfall that rushes down like a heavenly curtain. Over the great Three Masters Hall is the great Hall of the Three Pristine Ones. This hall, splendid in green and gold, symbolizes the supreme imposing air of the sublime realm of the Three Pristine Ones and the Immortals of the Nine Heavens. Worshiped on the two sides of the Three Pristine Ones are the divine sculptures of Wang Xuanfu, Imperial Sovereign Donghua ( 東華帝君 Donghua Dijun ), and Zhong Liquan, Imperial Sovereign ( 正陽帝君 Zhengyang Dijun ) Zhengyang, for The Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真 Quanzhen ) was handed down from the two Imperial Sovereigns to Lü Chunyang, Wang Chongyang and Qiu Changchun and then to the later generations. Worshiped respectively on the two sides of the Magical Altar ( 法壇 Fatan ) in front of the Three Pristine Ones are the sculptures of the four great Perfect Sovereigns ( 真君 Zhenjun ) (i.e. Zhang Daoling, Ge Xuan, Xu Xun and Sa Shoujian). Up about 250 metres along the path on the west of the great Hall of the Three Pristine Ones is the Hidden Green Grotto, a natural grotto that is the most quiet secluded place of the Yellow Dragon Grotto. The gushing spring in the Sun and Moon Pond before the grotto flows endlessly, and the spring water is limpid and luscious. Less than three km above is the Eight Trigrams Platform, high up in the air and seeming aloof and proud, where one can look into the distance as far as one can see. On the side of the platform grow osmanthus fragrances, peaches, plums, bamboo and yulan magnolias. The valley is filled with fragrance in all four seasons. Behind the platform is the peaceful and wild Eight Trigrams Grotto, a good place for cultivating and practising alone. Inside the grotto there is a natural gushing spring, which is limpid and luscious and said to be drinkable. The Daoist Studies Academy ( 道學院 Daoxue Yuan ) projected to be built will be grand. It will be the seat of learning for fostering talents in Daoist learning and temples. The hillside behind the academy is where Daoist priests through the ages passed away. Going through a small tunnel, you may see the Gate of Dao and its Virtue built beside the stream. A stone bridge leads to "the other shore". Below the stone bridge the gurgling water flows past the old sites of the Heavenly Flower Temple and the Platform for Song and Dance of the past. Up about 300 feet against the stream is the Washing Medicinal Materials Pond left by Ge Hong of the Jin dynasty, who is said to have cleansed the crude drugs used for the cultivation of immortality and refinement of Dao day and night. Since 1992 the Ching Chung Taoist Association ( 青松觀 Qingsong Guan ) of Hong Kong has furnished funds for rebuilding the Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon, and now the project is still going on. The rebuilt Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon is supposed to be perfectly equipped and will grandly occupy the whole mountain. The Immortal Garden and the Patriarch Hall are set for devotees to place the spirit tablets of their ancestors, so as to carry on the virtues of honoring heaven and following the example of ancestors, and carefully attending the funeral rites of parents and following them when gone with due sacrifices. The six-floored Cloud and Pine Vegetarian Restaurant is well-equipped, elegant and clean. The vegetarian food is supplied to the public, but the hotel just entertains honorable guests and does not provide service for profit.


Route

Turn from the main body of Guangshan Road to Changning Road, and arrive at the Ancient Temple of the Yellow Dragon half way up the mountain after about 25 minutes' drive.