Thousands of years of history and varied religious beliefs have left behind an impressive collection of caves and temples all over China. Xiamen with its host of cultural, historical, manmade and natural attractions is no exception.
The Wanshi Hills tourist area east of Xiamen, with its forests, lakes and oddly shaped rocks offers an alternative to visitors who may wish to explore an area of great natural beauty rather than the man made attractions of a busy city. This pedestrian only area has all sorts of quaintly named ridges and rocks in a 33 sq km area. Scattered among the boulders are many of Xiamen’s historic attractions such as ancient springs, eleven temples of different sizes, denominations and importance and caves, all with legends attached to them. White Deer Cave is located in this scenic area.
Found at the back of Tiger Stream Rock, which is also the site of a temple, the White Deer Cave (s) or Bailu Dong is named after two clay statues of white deer at the cave mouth. A Ming Dynasty temple is also at the site with sculptures of curling dragons on top of its roof. The temple was apparently added on to and renovated during the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong’s reign. The Three Treasure Hall and an additional three caves were excavated and built during this time. Other features at the temple include the Grand View Tower, Xianshan Pavilion, Buddhist halls and rooms for monks. Two wall inscriptions here record the resistance put up by the local people against Dutch colonialists in the early 17th century.
The caves have been known for its ‘smoking’ deer for as long as anyone can remember. This has been attributed to steam escaping from the cave’s nooks and crannies as the moisture evaporates from its surface on hot summer days making it look as if the deer, positioned with their mouths facing the rock, are smoking. However the real attraction maybe the wonderful panoramic views of Xiamen below bordered by the ocean. Some compare these caves with the White Deer Cave in the Lushan Mountain where Zhu Xi a famous philosopher during the Song Dynasty held discourses on Confucian teachings.
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Umanga Kahandawaarachchi is a passionate travel writer who writes under the pen name, Maggie Tulliver. Her field of writing covers a wide array of content and articles related to travel and hospitality industry.