Qīnglóng Dòng

Temple in Zhenyuan

Across the river from the old town, the epic vertical warren of temples, grottoes, corridors and caves of Qīnglóng Dòng rises up against Zhōnghé Mountain (Zhōnghé Shān; 中和山). Flooded with lights at night, it forms a sublime backdrop to the town. Put aside a good hour for exploration: it’s a labyrinth and there’s a lot to see, including some choice panoramas.

The intriguing complex was commenced in the Ming dynasty, its temples dedicated to the three faiths of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. At the far entrance to Zhōngyuán Cave (Zhōngyuán Dòng; 中元洞) is a stone table allegedly used by the eccentric founder of taichi, Zhang Sanfeng. The exterior of the splendid Wànshòu Gōng (万寿宫) – once the Jiāngxī Guildhall – is still bedecked with slogans, its interior of delightful woodcarvings a prime example of the style of architecture famed in Jiāngnán city. The unruffled Jade Emperor presides over everything – including some fine views – from the Yùhuáng Gé (玉皇阁; Jade Emperor Pavilion), his namesake pavilion at the top. Watch out when walking, as some of the stone steps are very slippery.