King Yu Temple on Mt. Tu (Bengbu, Anhui)

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Mt. Tu, also known as Mt. Dangtu and commonly called Mt. Dong, was the seat of the ancient Tushan Kingdom and the place where Dayu took a wife and convened dukes for the first time. It is located in the western suburbs of Bengbu City, Anhui Province, on the eastern bank of the Huaihe River, facing Mt. Jing across the river. Its peak is called Phoenix Peak, which is 338.7 meters above sea level. King Yu Temple is built on the very summit of Mt. Tu.


King Yu Temple ( 禹王宮 yuwang gong ) is commonly called Yu Temple or titled "the Temple of the Magnificent Ancestor of the Xia dynasty". It was first built in the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Gaozu of the Han dynasty (B.C. 195). According to legend, when Liu Bang, Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty led his troops to suppress Ying Bu, he passed through Mt. Tu and visited the traces of Dayu. He ordered to build Yu Temple on the summit of Mt. Tu in order for the later generations to think of Dayu's merits of water control forever. King Yu Temple was already inhabited by Daoists in the Tang dynasty. It is recorded that in the third Tianshou year of the reign of empress Wu Zetian (692), Reverend Daoist ( 道長 daozhang ) Li Shenyu planted pomegranates in the locality. King Yu Temple was greatly enlarged twice in the Ming dynasty and maintained extensively in the Ganlong years of the Qing dynasty. Later, most of the halls collapsed due to great changes brought by time. In recent years, the local government appropriated funds to maintain King Yu Temple, repairing part of the houses and walls and restoring some of the horizontal boards, couplets, poem inscriptions and drawings. Moreover, the temple was classified as a major temple of Anhui Province and a major historical and cultural site under state protection.


Nowadays, King Yu Temple covers an area of over 3,400 square meters. The temple faces south. Its buildings are arranged according to the orientations of the Eight Trigrams ( 八卦 bagua ). There are altogether five rows of buildings. The first row is made up of nine rooms. The five middle rooms are of the same height and covered with yellow glazed tiles. The entrance is composed of three rooms, and there is a guest room on either side. The second row is the Chongde Court, which consists of audience halls, the places where government officials had an audience with King Yu, placed sacrificial articles and rested in old times. Originally the poems and drawings of Su Zhe, Yue Fei, Huang Tingjian, etc. were hung in the hall. They are no longer there today; only the eastern and western walls are inlaid with a few stele inscriptions. There is a Hall of the Three Officials ( 三官殿 sanguan dian ) in the Daoist Temple of Purity and Tranquility ( 清靜 qingjing ) in the east. A bell tower and a drum-tower that originally lay in front of the hall have already been destroyed. In the Daoist Temple of Chunyang in the west, there is a Hall of Patriarch ( 祖 zu ) Lü. A Ming dynasty woodcarving of Lü Dongbin was originally kept in the hall but is not kept now. In the north of the hall, the eastern wall is inlaid with the stone inscription of the Poem of Mt. Tu written by Su Shi. The third row is King Yu Temple itself, which was originally covered with green glazed tiles but is covered with green tiles now. Enshrined and worshiped right in the center of the hall is the statue of King Yu, and the statues of Gao Tao and Bo Yi are worshiped subordinately on its either side. Besides, several scrolls of wood-carved poems and paintings and many couplets are hung in the hall. There is a Fragrant Pavilion built in the 24th Wanli year of the Ming dynasty to the east of the hall and a stele in memory of the reconstruction of the temple established in the 29th Ganlong year of the Qing dynasty to its west. There was Hall of Compassionate Salvation to the east of the hall, but it does not exist now. To the east of the hall is the Changchun Daoist Temple. The Hall of Patriarch Qiu stands in it. In its west there was once the Verdant Dragon Pavilion, a two-floored wooden building, with the upper floor being the scriptoriums and the rooms of the different Abbots ( 住持 zhuchi ) of King Yu Temple, and the lower floor being the place where literary men through the ages stayed. There is now a weeping ginkgo in front of the pavilion. It is a tree of monoecism, exuberant and pipless, and can be ranked as superb. The fourth row is the Hall of Qi's Mother, which worships Tushan----Yu's wife and Qi's mother. It was already destroyed towards the end of the Qing dynasty. There are two ancient ginkgoes in front of the hall. The branches twine like a dragon. As writer Huang Tingjian of the Song dynasty eulogized, "The old trees reach high up to the sky, as if desiring to transform into a dragon". The fifth row of buildings is a double-floored hall. The upper floor is the Jade Emperor ( 玉皇 yuhuang ) Hall, while the lower floor is the Hall of the Mysterious Warrior ( 玄武 xuanwu ). To the west of the hall there originally existed the Hall of the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud ( 碧霞元君 bixia yuanjun ). It was already destroyed in an earthquake, and the dilapidated walls still exist today.


Mt. Tu has pleasant weather. It is quiet and tastefully laid out, with jagged rocks of grotesque shapes, historic sites and famous springs scattered all over it. A good many literary men came to visit it in past dynasties, such as Cao Cao and his sons of the period of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Zongyuan of the Tang dynasty, and Ouyang Xiu, Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, Zhu Xi, etc. of the Song dynasty. They left behind numerous magnificent writings extolling Mt. Tu and Dayu's merits and virtues, which add beauty to Mt. Tu.