This past weekend I partook of a grand smorgasbord of tasty American eats and rich Chinese history. Living so close to Nanjing, I’m surprised it took me this long to get there especially when it has so much to offer.
The Purple Mountain
It’s not very purple and it’s more of a large hill but it is beautiful and is home to three significant pieces of Nanjing history, the only Ming Tomb not in Beijing, Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum and the Linggu Temple area, of which we visited the latter two.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen is considered the father of modern China and was extremely instrumental in the revolution of the early 20th century overthrowing the Qing Dynasty. He was one of the founders of the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang, the government after the revolution. After he died in Beijing, they buried him in Nanjing as he requested. Instead of giving him a humble burial site as he probably would have wanted, they built him a grand mausoleum after the style of the Ming Tombs on the side of the Purple Mountain.
It’s a beautiful place. Even with the hundreds of steps it’s a good trip even if just to look out over the mountain’s park. In his tomb at the top of the stairs is a grand statue of him and many of his teachings and philosophies lining the wall, kind of like the Lincoln Memorial but on a smaller scale.
We also visited the Linggu Temple scenic area. The Linggu temple was originally built many hundred years ago. Today only part of that original complex stands. However, the Kuomintang used the site as a burial ground for those who died in the revolution. The pagoda at the top of the hill here was built to commemorate those people. A new Buddhist temple has also been built.
The only Ming-era building left is the Beamless hall, a remarkable barrel-vaulted building with no lumber used in the construction. Not only is the construction pretty cool, inside there are life-size dioramas telling the story of the revolution. Many people wouldn’t know this but America played a part in these events since Sun Yat-sen studied in America, he got Chinese Americans to give their support and money to the cause and Honolulu was where the Nationalist Party was created.
We also enjoyed a walk through the new temple with of course the sweet smell of burning incense wafting through the colorful buildings with effigies of various guardians and Buddhas. We didn’t go up the pagoda since we had to go soon. However, this area of the park was so peaceful and beautiful with very few people and a wonderful old forest to meander through.
Aaron and I got lucky with our timing. We found out a few days before that the LDS church branch in Nanjing would be having a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. We weren’t exactly sure if we should go not being in the branch but found out that we were not the only visitors at this feast. There were nearly 100 people at the gathering and they had all of the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and so much more.
It was also like a small China Horizons reunion since several teachers we spent a week with in Beijing teach in or near Nanjing and are part of the church branch there. Nanjing is also home to many BYU students who study at Nanjing University or as part of the BYU study abroad program. It was a great treat to have this very American feast with so many compatriots and meet many new people.
One person we met actually lives in Hefei and didn’t know that we meet for church as part of the virtual branch, so she has been going to Nanjing. Ann ended up spending the rest of the day with us as we visited the old city wall and attended a match of the Pacific-Asia Curling Championship.
Since I watched my first match of curling during the Vancouver Olympics, I’ve been fascinated by the game. When I found online that there would be an international tournament while we were in Nanjing, I said we have to go. We did and got to watch half of the women’s matches between China and Korea and Japan and New Zealand. If only we could have stayed longer or could go back for more.