Hiker Diary – Episode 6

Since the beginning of this column, we have been to places representing four out of the five old districts of Shenyang, and today it is the turn of Huanggu District. Huanggu is located in the northwestern part of the city. It cannot compete with the other four when it comes to industry and commerce, but it has one strong point – a good number of universities and colleges, plus Liaoning Experiment School, the long-time best high school in Shenyang. Regarding urban development, Huanggu also experienced a big change in its landscape, but compared with the other four, the change is less dramatic. Therefore, many old buildings and communities are preserved here. But what we are going to talk about is even older. It is actually a treasure located in the Tawan region of Huanggu — the Shenyang Stupa, whose full name is literally Stainless Shining Sarira Stupa.

清朝回龙寺的仿造品 A replica of Huilong Temple

A replica of Huilong Temple

沈阳八景之一的塔湾夕照 Sunset Tawan, one of the Eight Shenyang Scenes

Sunset Tawan, one of the Eight Shenyang Scenes

塔湾公园内的荷塘 Lotus lake in Tawan Park

Lotus lake in Tawan Park

The stupa was built in 1044. At that time, this land belonged to the territory of the Qidan people, a major northern tribe originally dwelling here and believed to be the ancestor of the Manchurians. They established the Liao Dynasty, equivalent to the Song Dynasty of the Chinese people. The Qidan people imported Buddhism as their major religion. Legend says there once was an endless heavy windstorm in the place Shenyang now stands which made people suffer tremendously. One day, a monk passed by and people implored him to help. After some investigation, the monk ascertained that the windstorm was caused by an evil yellow dragon whose head rested where Shenyang’s Tawan region is today. The monk performed a ritual at the place to exorcise the yellow dragon, thereby stopping the catastrophe. In order to show their gratitude, people collected money to build a temple named Huilong Temple for the monk, who agreed to stay. After the monk passed away, his students built this Dagoba to keep the 1548 relics made from his remains.

不在盛开季节的荷塘仍然很美 The lotus lake is still beautiful even not in blooming season.jpg

The lotus lake is still beautiful even not in blooming season

八面十三层的舍利塔是一件很精美的建筑 The Dagoba has a beautiful octal structure of 13 floors

The Dagoba has a beautiful octal structure of 13 floors

回龙寺一角 A building of Huilong Temple

A building of Huilong Temple

塔湾公园内下期的老人 Old mans are playing Chinese chess in Tawan Park

Old men are playing Chinese chess in Tawan Park

All of this is just a legend. When the government refurbished the Stupa in 1985, a stele was unearthed telling the true story, which is much simpler than the legend. The Stupa was collectively built by local Qidan people simply for worshiping the Buddha, and the donation of each of them was recorded on the stele. The Huilong Temple was actually built much later during the Qing Dynasty, but it no longer exists. The temple today bearing the same name is merely a replica built in the modern age.

舍利塔位于塔湾公园内的高处 The Dagoba is on a small hill in Tawan Park

The Dagoba is the finest heritage in Shenyang from Liao Dynasty

塔湾公园内的仿古建筑 Pseudo-classic style buildings in Tawan Park

Pseudo-classic style buildings in Tawan Park

塔湾公园内乘凉的老百姓 People playing some card and chess games under the tree in Tawan Park

People playing some card and chess games under the tree in Tawan Park

舍利塔的八面雕刻着不同的神佛 Different Buddha was engraved on each side of the Dagoba

Different Buddha was engraved on each side of the Dagoba

The Stupa is a delicate and beautiful octagonal architecture with 13 floors and a height of 34 meters. On each of its eight sides, the engraving of a different Buddha can be found. Built up by flashed bricks and brown bricks, the Stupa is hollow inside and its inner room is divided vertically into Earth Hall, Middle Hall, and Heaven Hall. For many years, countless treasures were kept in it, such as golden Buddha statues, holy relics, scrolls, and porcelain objects, and the walls of the Earth Hall were painted with fine frescoes. These treasures are now exhibited in the nearby museum. Around the Stupa is a beautiful park famous for its sunset views upon the lotus lake. This vista was chosen as one of eight Shenyang scenes by ancient intellectuals: they called it Sunset Tawan.

舍利塔边的老房子 Some old houses beside the Dagoba

Some old houses beside the Dagoba

舍利塔是沈阳保存最好的辽代古塔 The Dagoba is the finest heritage kin Shenyang from Liao Dynasty

The Dagoba is the finest heritage in Shenyang from Liao Dynasty

荷塘边是休闲的好地方 The lake in Tawan Park is good for camping

The lake in Tawan Park is good for camping

What is even more interesting is that Shenyang Government has upgraded Tawan Park by moving 102 ancient steles from the Shenyang North Pagoda there, and the relocated Tawan Park is open to the public and a good place for families to have fun and enjoy a mixed view with the Stupa, steles, the lotus lake, and sunset.

How to find the Stupa?

  • In Huanggu District;
  • On the very northwestern corner of Shenyang’s first Ring Road, there is a Carrefour. If you find this Carrefour, it will be hard to miss the Stupa.

Extra tip:

  • With the thick tree tops, lotus lake, and green land, the Tawan Park is a good place for the whole family to spend a relaxing afternoon. Seeing the sun set upon the lotus lake makes for a spectacular view.

About the next episode:

  • As we have already come to Huanggu District, why not stay here longer and see some interesting markets nearby the Stupa Park?

 

Written by Buke Wang

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