Earth Tower Temple (Xining, Qinghai)

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Lying in the Earth Tower Mountain north of Xining city, the Earth Tower Temple ( 土樓觀 Tu Lou Guan ) was originally built with the name of Shrine of the Saints in memory of Deng Xun, the Qiang People’s Protecting Gemadar of the Han dynasty. In the Northern Wei Dynasty, it was changed into a Buddhist temple of different names, such as Earth Tower Mountain Temple, North Mountain Temple, Ever Flourishing Temple ( 永興寺 Yongxing Si ), North Chan Temple ( 北禪寺 Bei Chan Si ), etc. Located on the southern route of the Silk Road, the Earth Tower Temple accommodated both Daoists and Buddhists respectively worshiping their own deities and Buddhas. Later, as Daoism prevailed there it became a completely Daoist temple with its present name. The temple has its unique elegant demeanor harmonizing earth cliffs and cave-houses with pavilions and halls. The main buildings include the Hall of the Three Pristine Ones, Hall of the Jade Emperor, the Hall of the Queen Mother of the West, the Shrine of the Patriarch Lü, the Hall of the Thunder Patriarch, the Hall of the Big Dipper and the Palace of Imperial Sovereign Wenchang. The Mountain is famous for its “nine caves and eighteen hollows”, such as the Cave of the Jade Emperor, the Cave of the Infinite,the Cave of the Seven Perfect Ones, the Cave of the City God, the Cave of Emperor Guan, the Cave of the Black Tiger, etc. Connected by trestles and verandas, the caves house fine statues and frescoes.


On the top of the Earth Tower Mountain stands a brick tower named the Tower of Peace and Longevity ( 寧壽塔Ning Shou Ta ). 15 meters in height, the five-storied solid hexagon was first built in the Ming Dynasty. Rebuilt in 1915, the tower is now an important cultural relic of the temple.


A key cultural relic protection unit of Qinghai Province, the Earth Tower Temple now houses the Qinghai Daoist Association.