Western Hills and Dragon Gate

The Western Hills Forest Reserve lies about 15 kilometers to the west of Kunming beside Dianchi Lake. The Western Hills are in the Biji Mountain range and extend 40 kilometers reaching a height of 2500 meters. They are made up of four hills - Binao, Huating, Taihua and Lohan hills. "Sleeping Beauty Mountain" is a nickname given to the hills as from a distance they can resemble a girl lying with her hair flowing down to the water while others see a "lying Buddha" and use this name.

Many temples built during the Ming (1368 -1644) and Qing (1644 -1912) dynasties are located on the hills with Dragon Gate temple (Longmen) being the highest and most famous of them all. Painstakingly carved out of the mountain rock 2300 meters high between 1781 and 1835 by the Taoist monk Wu Laiqing and others, it is an amazing sight. Grottos, sculptures, pavilions and corridors are all carved including a corridor along the cliff edge wide enough for only one or two people to pass. This incredible human achievement is recognised worldwide. From the temple there is a wonderful view over Dianchi Lake and the surrounding area.

Other popular temples are Huating Temple near the foot of the hills that has a history of over 900 years and is known for its Buddhist and Taoist statues. Taihua Temple is famous for the beautiful rare flowers that bloom there each spring and the ancient trees that surround it. Sanqingge Pavilion is another great place to look over Dianchi Lake. All these places are made up of a number of impressive halls and buildings.