Golden Heaven Temple (Lanzhou, Gansu)

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Also known as the Thunder Altar Temple ( 雷壇廟 Leitan Miao ), it stands on Xijingdong Rd. in Qilihe District, Lanzhou city, near the west bank of the Leitan River.


The temple was constructed by King Suzhuang, the local governor and a devout believer of Daoism, in emperor Hui's second Jianwen year in the Ming dynasty, at the location of a temple built in the Song dynasty . After its completion, he named it 'Temple of Golden Heaven', and invited Sun Biyun, the reverend Daoist of the Jade Emptiness Temple on Mt. Wudang. It is said that Zhang Sanfeng himself paid a visit to the temple, discussing the Book of Changes ( 《易經》 Yijing ) with Sun Biyun.


The temple saw large-scale renovations in the 4th Yongle year of the Ming dynasty and the 31st Jiaqing year of the Qing dynasty. In the 46th Qianlong year of the Qing dynasty, however, it was burned down during battles between the Qing and the rebellious Hui people. In the 59th Qianlong year, the temple was reconstructed thanks to the governor of Gansu, who donated his salary. More renovations were done in the 11th Jiaqing year of the Qing dynasty when the statues in the temple were covered with gold foil. In the 3rd Daoguan year of the Qing dynasty, La Yancheng, governor of Shanxi and Gansu, had an ancestral temple constructed in memory of his late father. In 1928, policemen and soldiers of the Republican government were stationed in the halls and houses in the temple. Consequently, the religious activities were seriously interrupted, and the statues and other relics terribly damaged.


In the first years of the founding of the Peoples' Republic of China, there were about 40 Daoists in the temple. In 1958, the temple was converted into a Workers' Culture Palace. As a result, the religious facilities and objects were destroyed. Then, only a few Daoists were still permitted to live in the temple. During the Cultural Revolution, they were forced to leave the temple, returning to the laity.


In 1985, according to the instructions of the local government, Patriarch Hua's Hall was reopened to Daoist activities. Located in the west of the temple, the hall was originally constructed by the instruction of governor La Yancheng in the second Daoguang year of the Qing dynasty, to commemorate Hua Tuo, the famous doctor in ancient China. It was expanded in the 13th Daoguang year. In the 26th Daoguang year, governor Lin Zhexu, the famous hero, went to the hall, praying for his recovery from disease. On the occasion, he wrote a couplet for the temple, praising Hua Tuo's magic skills in medical treatment.


Historically, the Golden Heaven Temple boasted many quantity of halls and houses. Its main halls included the Thunder Patriarch Hall ( 雷祖殿 Leizu Dian ), the Infinity Hall ( 無極殿 Wuji Dian ) and the Four Heavenly Ministers Hall ( 四御殿 Siyu Dian ). The auxiliary halls consisted of the Three Officials Hall ( 三官殿 Sanguan Dian ) and the Three Rays Hall ( 三光殿 Sanguang Dian ).


Today, as facilities for religious activities, only one main hall and one auxiliary hall are available. There are only 8 Daoists living in the temple.