Kunming is often called the spring city or city of eternal spring. Kunming is the political, economic, communications and cultural...
Kunming is a prefecture-level city and capital of Yunnan province, in southwestern China. Because of its year-round temperate climate, Kunming is often called the "Spring City" or "City of Eternal Spring". Kunming is the political, economic, communications and cultural center of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government. It is also home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Yunnan's large businesses are in Kunming as well. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer.
It covers an area of 21,501 km2 and its urban area covers 6,200 km2. Kunming has an estimated population of 5,740,000 including 3,055,000 in the urban area and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes. Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty. Kunming was formerly called Yunnanfu until the 1920s.
It is the leading transportation hub (air, road, rail) in SW China, with a rail connection to Vietnam and road links to Burma and Laos. Kunming currently has a new international airport under development, which is slated to be the fourth largest international airport in China. Situated in a fertile plain 640 km southwest of Chongqing, Kunming is an important trading center between the far west and central and south China. It is one of China's largest producers of copper. Copper is smelted with nearby hydroelectric power. Coal is mined, and the city has a few iron and steel complexes. Other manufactures include phosphorus, chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper, and cement.
Although it was often the seat of kings in ancient times, Kunming's modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railroad from Hanoi was built. The city has continued to develop rapidly under China's modernization efforts. Kunming's streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace. Kunming has been designated a special tourism center and as such sports a proliferation of high-rises and luxury hotels.
From 2005 to 2010, the city of Kunming plans to nearly double in size, in terms of both population (to eight million people) and area, and it hopes to be one of the trade, transport, financial and cultural centers of Southeast Asia. Kunming's transport links to Southeast Asia and elsewhere, particularly its air links, are steadily expanding, with direct routes already existing to all major Chinese cities, most major Southeast Asian cities and some major cities in Japan and South Korea.
Key development issues for Kunming include a local educated and talent pool that is less sophisticated than larger Chinese cities and the need for increased transport links.
Although the existing Kunming City is just 2,400 years old, the earliest activities of human beings in this region can be traced back to over 30,500 years ago. In the light of archaeological finds, primitive people settled in the area around the current Dianchi Lake in the Neolithic period. Apart from agricultural production, these primitive people also earned their living by fishing, hunting and stock raising. Therefore, the Dianchi region is also considered to be one of the important cradles of humankind.
Around the time of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 B.C.-221 B.C.), an alliance of the tribes dotted around Dianchi founded a strong slave state called the Dian Kingdom. And, the supreme ruler of the kingdom was named King Dian. At the end of the Warring States Period (476 B.C.-221 B.C.), those tribes were conquered by the Chu State, the general of which became the King Dian later. It is the first record of the central Chinese civilization being introduced into the Dianchi region. Coming to the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.B-24), the Emperor Wu set up Yizhou Shire here and authorized the King Dian to rule the Dian Kingdom as before. The current Kunming City was just a small prefecture then, called Guchang County under the control of the Yizhou Shire. However, the former Guchang County is, undoubtedly, the first city built within the current urban area of Kunming City.
The Self-development of the Dian Region
During the time that the Kingdom of Shu (215-263) in the Three Kingdom Period (220-228) started the continuous wars with the other two strong kingdoms, the wealthy Dian region, as well as the areas of the west Guizhou and the southwest Sichuan, became Shu's powerful base. Moreover, this region had also received rapid and solid development after the Shu's Prime Minister, Zhuge Liang, unified the ethnic minorities and carried out a series of strict disciplines.
The Further Development in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties
After the fall of the Family Cuan, the Nanzhao, Dali and some other states controlled the Dian region successively. Because those states' economic and political centers were in Dali City, Kunming City lost its dominant position in the Dian region for a long time. In the year 1254, the Mongolians, who built the short Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), defeated the Dali State and moved the center of the Dian region from Dali to Kunming again. In the whole Yuan Dynasty, Kunming City developed to be more flourishing and richer so that it attracted a great number of overseas travelers such as the noted Marco Polo.
The Unsteady Development in the Qing Dynasty
When the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) of the Manchu captured the imperial throne, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty escaped to Kunming and continued his kingship, existing in name only. In 1659, Wu Sangui - a general and then a rebel of the Qing Dynasty, overcame Kunming and governed the whole of Yunnan atrociously. Even to the 1910's, due to the corruption of the later Qing Dynasty, Kunming was inevitably occupied by foreign invaders. During these periods, Kunming's economy suffered grievously.
March to October
Yunnan Stone Forest, Dianchi Lake, Golden Temple, Western Hills, Qiongzhu Temple (Bamboo Temple), Black Dragon Pool, Yuantong Temple, Flowers and Birds Market, Daguan Park, Bamei Village
Yunnan Stone Forest: The Stone Forest is in Lunan Yi nationality autonomous county, which is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kunming and requires only a three-hour drive. It covers an area of 400 square kilometers (96,000 acres) and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots.
An old local saying says that 'If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time.' Truly, the Stone Forest is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan. Walking through the Stone Forest, visitors marvel at the natural stone masterpieces and are bewitched by the intricate formations.
Dianchi Lake: The Dianchi Lake Scenic Area is located in the southwest part of Kunming City. Dianchi Lake is, beyond question, the center of the resort. There are numerous attractions along the lake captivating tourists. Among these are the Yunnan Ethnic Villages, Daguan Park, Baiyukou Park, Haigeng Bank, Kwan-yin Hill, Xishan Forest Park, temples and pagodas. Towns, big or small near the lake provide visitors with an opportunity to experience customs of the local people.
Golden Temple: Located on top of Mingfeng (Singing Phoenix) Hill is the home of the Taoist Taihe Palace (Hall of Supreme Harmony), which is the largest copper temple in China. It is also known as the Tongwa Temple (Bronze Tile Temple) and by its popular name, the Golden Temple. The history of the Golden Temple starts during the Ming Dynasty and the reign of the Emperor Wanli in 1602. At that time the governor of Yunnan Province was a devout Taoist who built this temple to honor the Taoist hero-god Zishi.
Western Hills: In the western suburbs of Kunming lies Western Hills. They are also called 'Sleeping Buddha Hills'. For looked at from a distance, they have the appearance of a giant sleeping Buddha. They have also been given another name - 'Sleeping Beauty Hills' for the hills when viewed together look like a beautiful young lady laying beside Dianchi Lake with her face upward and her hair trailling into water.
You can see the outline of her face, chest, and legs clearly. Western Hills boasts an excellent environment with flourishing flowers and dense forest, providing tourists an excellent environment to enjoy the tranquility and marvelous scenery.
Qiongzhu Temple (Bamboo Temple): On the beautiful wooded Yu'an Mountain, only twelve kilometers (seven miles) northwest of Kunming, is the famous Buddhist Qiongzhu Temple. The temple and the bamboo forest that surround it have a wonderful and mysterious legend about their origins. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Yunnan was a separate country called Dali. One day, while two brothers of royal lineage were hunting in the hills outside Kunming, they spotted a bizarre rhinoceros.
Black Dragon Pool: At the foot of Longquan Hill, about 17 kilometers (10 miles) north of the center of Kunming, there is a beautiful place called the Black Dragon Pool (Heilongtan), also known as the Dragon Fountain Temple (Longquanguan).
In fact, there are many attractions in this area, and the Black Dragon Pool is only one of them. I will introduce these sites to you one by one. An ancient legend lends the Black Dragon Pool its name; it is said that a long time ago there were ten wicked dragons that caused much destruction and did great harm to people.
Yuantong Temple: Yuantong Temple is at the foot of Yuantong Hill in the northern part of Kunming. With a history of more than 1,200 years, Yuantong Temple is the grandest as well as the most important Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province. King Yimouxun of the Nanzhao Kingdom built the temple during the late eighth century as a continuation of Putuoluo Temple, and the restorations to the temple performed from the Qing Dynasty onward had not changed Yuantong Temple's unique mixed architectural style of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties.
Flowers and Birds Market: Famous for its year-round mild climate, Kunming is often called Spring City. The famous Flowers and Birds Market in Jingxing Street is the city's biggest, most attractive shopping market where spring reigns all year. Since 1983 the Flowers and Birds Market has gradually been built into a comprehensive public spot for leisure, shopping, and trading.
Strolling on the market street, you can see shops and stalls of all sorts, especially those featuring flowers, birds, and fish. Beautiful blossoms and delicate plant crafts lure the visitor. Hundreds of flowers, including orchids, camellias, lilies, roses, and tulips bloom in profusion.
Daguan Park: Daguan, which means 'the grand view', is the most befitting name for the park and the pavilion which are on the terminus of Daguan Road in the southwest of Kunming city, Daguan Park and Daguan Pavilion. Daguan Park locates on the shore of Dianchi Lake and faces the Western Hills which are on the other side of Dianchi Lake.
In 1682, a monk named Qianyin built a small temple here to give Buddhist lessons; eight years later, in 1690, the satrap of Yunnan Province Wang Jiwen was attracted by the beautiful natural views here and began to construct a whole park including many halls, pavilions, bonsais, rockeries, trees and porches.
Bamei Village: The famous Chinese litterateur Tao Yuanming who lived during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) once told of a Peach Blossom Valley isolated from the hustle and bustle of the ordinary world. People lived there in peaceful, serene isolation. The description of Tao Yuanming came true when Bamei Village was discovered.
Located thirty kilometers (about nineteen miles) from Guangnan County in Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, Bamei Village is hard to find because of its unique location.
One of the most important and busiest airports in China, Kunming Wujiaba International Airport was built in 1923. After a series of renovations it has become a beautiful modern airport, with a 58,000-square meter (about 14 acre) Waiting Building, 34 gates, 17 Waiting Halls, one airstrip and a 250,000-square meter (about 62 acre) parking lot. Within the airport there are restaurants, shops, a small flower market and other services. From the Kunming International Airport you can fly to 74 domestic and international destinations.
Kunming has four railway stations. The main one is the Nanyao Station, about four kilometers (about 2.5 miles) from the center of the city, which would take about 10 yuan within 15 minutes by Taxi to. Trains to Dali, Yuxi etc., run every day. The Ticket Booking Office is at No. 19, Kunshi Lu, hours of operation is from 8:00 to 17:30.
On June 1st, 2007, two groups of inter-city trains started operation between Kunming and Qujing (the second largest city in Yunnan Province and located to the west of Kunming) directly. The trains are fitted with the high-grade EMU (Electric Multiple Unit), which makes the passengers' journey feel smoother, safer and more comfortable.
By Long-distance Bus
Highway transportation has developed rapidly in Kunming. Highways radiate to places inside and outside Yunnan Province, as well as to neighboring countries. You can also choose long-distance buses to Kunming from Beijing (National Highway 108), Lanzhou (213), Shanghai (320), Fuzhou (324) or other cities.
While there are many bus stations in Kunming, for safety we recommend that tourists take buses at well-operated stations.
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