Nine white gourd or bamboo-shoot-shaped stupas pointing skywards on Manfeilong Hill in Xishuangbanna Yaunnan Province have been there for more than 800 years, according to local lore. Known as the Manfeilong Pagoda, this extraordinary cluster of stupas stands on an octagonal base and appears to have been laid out in the form of a lotus when viewed from the top. The central stupa is 16 meters high and the eight stupas surrounding it are exactly half its size. Eight gold painted niches around the stupas with statues of the seated Buddha in them provide places for the faithful to place their offerings. The stupas are festooned with bells on top of the pinnacles that make a pleasant tinkling sound in the wind.
It has long been a gathering place for the Buddhist Dai people of China, descendents of the Laos and Thai people who live in the area. The stupa’s South East Asian architectural style is not a surprise given the history of the area and its proximity to Myanmar and Thailand. Xishuangbanna is known to have been a predominantly Buddhist area and is said to have had more than 500 temples and a greater number of pagodas that have now disappeared or are in ruins. The elegantly proportioned white painted stupa cluster presents a beautiful picture against the dark green of the forested area around. To get to the stupas, visitors have to walk through a forest path of 200 steps.
The Manfeilong stupas are among some of the most important Buddhist structures in China. They were and still are part of the Theravada Buddhist practices prevalent in the area. A statue of the standing Buddha to the south faces the stupa cluster and a foot print on a rock also to the south of the cluster is said to be that of Sakyamuni, the first Buddha. The stupa is a popular place of pilgrimage for Buddhists from Thailand and Burma. The temple premises are at its most crowded during the three day water festival held in the middle of April each year to celebrate the Dai New Year. Buddhists in Xishuangbanna gather at the temple to have fun splashing water on each other. Being atop a mountain, the site also offers views of the valley below and the Burma – China border that is at the top of the mountains beyond the valley.
As one of the newest hotels in the area, the Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort & Spa not only introduces a new level of luxury to the region’s hospitality industry but seeks to blend the South East Asian culture so close to this historic area in its design and cuisines. At this hotel in Yunnan, guests can look forward to beautiful outdoor spaces, spacious accommodation featuring modern well appointed rooms, suites and pool villas, innovative fusion cuisine and therapeutic spa offerings among a host of services and facilities. This hotel Yunnan is also one of the best locations to enjoy the province’s famed tropical scenery, historic and cultural attractions.
Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday.