Dragon Gate Cave Daoist Temple (Long County, Shanxi)

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The Dragon Gate Cave Daoist Temple ( 龍門洞道院 Longmen Dong Daoyuan ) lies on Dragon Gate Mountain in Xinjichuan Town, Long County, Shanxi Province. Dragon Gate Mountain, anciently named the Numinous Immortal Cliff ( 靈仙岩 Lingxian Yan ), is rich in karstic caves. It is well known because Qiu Chuji, the Master of Eternal Spring ( 長春子 Changchun Zi ), the ancestor of The Dragon Gate Sect ( 龍門派 Longmen Pai ), cultivated here in seclusion in caves for seven years--from the 20th year to the 26th year of the Dading Era (1180-1186) in the Jin Dynasty.

As hermit in Dragon Gate Mountain, Qiu didn't build temples. He lived with his pupils in caves under the Chaotic Origin Peak ( 混元峰 Hunyuan Feng ), called the Cave of Eternal Spring and the Rock of Spiritual Ordeals ( 磨性石 Mo Xing Shi ). 80 years after Qiu's leaving the mountain, i.e. the 3rd year of the Zhiyuan Era of the Shizu Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty (1266), Zhang Zhikuan, the Director of Daoism in Longxi Lu, and He Zhizhen, the Vice Director, together with 12 Daoists, came to Dragon Gate Mountain. They renamed the mountain as Jingfu Mountain and built some constructions such as the Scripture Library Tower, Facing the Origin Tower, and the Shrine of the Numinous Official.

In the 13th year of the Zhiyuan Era (1276), the Shizu Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty bestowed the stele "Jade Heaven Temple" ( 玉宸宮 Yuchen Gong ). There are then no records about Daoism in the Dragon Gate Cave from the mid Yuan till the 4th year of the Wanli Era of the Ming (1576), when Daoist stone inscriptions such as the Tablet of Ascending to the Jingfu Grotto Heaven ( 《登景福洞天》 Deng Jingfu Dongtian ) appeared. During the Wanli period, Daoists rebuilt and enlarged the Jade Heaven Temple. In this period, the Jade Heaven Temple Fair formed and it became a custom that Daoist followers in nearby counties came for pilgrimage to this mountain. The Jade Heaven Temple and the Dragon Gate Cave were damaged during the warfare at the end of the Ming dynasty. During the Shunzhi and Kangxi periods (1644-1722) in the Qing, under the successive efforts of Zhang Xianzhong, Tian Shoucun, Zeng Shouyun, Miao Qingyang, Huang Benshan, and Xue Jiaoyu, not only were the past halls of the Dragon Gate Cave restored, in addition, some new constructions were built to become the largest group of Daoist temples in the west of Shaanxi. After the temple was rebuilt in the Qing, people never used the name of Jade Heaven Temple. All the stele records used the name of Dragon Gate Cave.

In the 6th year of the Republic (1917), in memory of the eminent Daoists who had rebuilt the temple in the early Qing, people rebuilt the Shrine of Gentleman Huang as the Tower of Eight Immortals with the lower storey as a shrine for four respected men, i.e. Tian Shoucun, Zeng Shouyun, Huang Benshan, and Miao Qingyang. Later generations regarded the four as founding ancestors. In 1963, the people's government of Long County publicized Dragon Gate Cave as a key cultural relic protection unit. In the Cultural Revolution, the religious relics of the temple suffered damage but the main construction luckily escaped heavy destruction. After the 1980s, with help from people of all walks of life, Daoists repaired and rebuilt the Dragon Gate Cave Daoist Temple, which now includes the Hall of the Supreme, the Hall of King of Medicine, the Hall of Salvation from Misery, the Chaotic Origin Peak ( 混元頂 Hunyuan Ding ), the Hall of Er'lang, the Hall of the Earth Deity, the Palace of Offspring, the Hall of the Queen Mother, the Hall of the Black Tiger and the Pavilion of the Jade Emperor, etc.