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R.P. BenDedek

Zhongshan Mountain National Park Nanjing
By R.P. BenDedek
May 10, 2008 - 4:30:36 AM

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This article is just one of a series of photographic articles relating to two trips I undertook; to Nanjing on April 3rd and to Ningbo April 12th 2008. The first part relates to the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the second part relates to Linggu Temple and Pagoda.

I currently teach English in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province, the Capital of Which is Nanjing. Friday 4th April 2008 was the Chinese 'Qing Ming' Festival, which is now a public holiday. Having only one class to attend on Thursday 3rd, I headed off to Nanjing to meet up with my former student and current friend Zhang Mingxing. On April 4th we spent the day at Zhongshan Mountain National Park.

There are many things to see there and I personally would recommend that you buy the individual tickets to the various areas, and spread your journey over 2 days. If you buy the all inclusive ticket as we did, you have to see it all in one day.

We visited Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum first, then caught the tourist 'train' (bus) to Linggu Temple and then doubled back to see the Ming Tomb. It was all very exhausting.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum

There is not a lot you can write about a visit to Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum. It is after all, just a place where a dead guy lives, and where living people die trying to climb all those steps. But it is a phenomenal place and the views are to die for! (Sorry! I can't help myself!)

Words in Italics are transcribed from official notices. Original errors have been included.

When you Enter the Zhongshan Mountain National Park, you are at the entrance to Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum area.  Within the Mountain Park Complex, Linggu Pagoda is to the Right of Sun Yatsen's Mausoleum and the Ming Tomb area is to the left. There are many other sights to see besides just these specific places, for instance,  Purple Mountain which can be accessed by a cable way. Unfortunately, we had no time to go there.

First Archway along the avenue to the Mausoleum
This is the first archway toward Dr. Sun Yatsen's Tomb and sits near the entrance to the park and directly opposite the Filial Scriptures Tripod.

Designed by Lu Yanzhi, a famous architect, the construction of Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum began in March 1926 and ended in the spring of 1929.

It is 700 meters from the Memorial Archway to the coffin chamber with 10 terraces and 392 steps between them, and the falling head reaches 70 meters.

The main buildings of the mausoleum include the memorial archway, the mausoleum gate, the tablet pavilion, the sacrificial hall and the coffin chamber.

On June 1, 1929, a grand burial ceremony was held at the mausoleum which is shaped like an alarm bell, symbolizing Dr. Sun Yat-sen's unyielding spirit in fighting to arouse people and salvage the nation.

Tablet Pavilion
Foreigners normally get stared at in China, but on this occasion it seemed like many people were surprised that a foreigner would visit the place.

Of course, it was the foreigner who was surprised at the popularity of the place considering that China is now an 'allegedly' communist country.

Tablet Pavilion Inscription

The Stele Pavilion, 12 meters long at each bottom side and 17 meters high, is a granit construction roofed with blue glazed tiles.

The stele erected inside is 8.1 meters high and 4 meters wide, with a three-line inscription on it by Tan Yankai, one of thefounders of Kuomintang.

The characters on the stele were written in Yan Zhenqing style, which features vigor and strength.

The Stele

Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum was built in commemoration of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the great forerunner of the modern Chinese democratic revolution. Its construction started in 1926 and was completed in 1929. Dr. Sun's remains was shipped to Nanjing and buried here on June 1st, 1929.

The mausoleum, situated at the southern slope of Zhongshan Mountain, covers an area of 133 hectares. Its layout in the shape of a bell designed by famous Chinese architect Lu Yanzhi, with the open country at the front and screen-like peaks at the back, looks very imposing. From the entrance of the Mausoleum to the granit hall there are 392 ascending steps with 10 landings in between, covering a length of 700 meters and a height of 70 meters. The memorial archway, toom passage, entrance, pavilion, sacrificial hall and coffin chamber are all located on the axis. Here we select a vast amount of valuable pictures and files, which recorded the whole process of construction started from spring 1926 and its history of development.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum is famous as the mausoleum of a great personage as well as for its unique characters of construction.

A Rare picture of the Two of us in the same photo.

Foreigners must get used to Chinese asking to have their picture taken with them. This occasion was no different. I had two boys hanging off my shoulders while their friend took a photo, and while he did that, I took a photo of him. When they were finished, it occurred to me that while I take photos of Mingxing and he takes photos of me, we never have any photos of the two of us together. So the boys were glad to oblige.

Mingxing has had five and a half years of constant exposure to English in normal English speed conversation. Right now, in addition to his English studies at university in SiChuan, he is also studying German. He will be a great man one day!

A copy of a photograph on display - I didn't even take my own photograph!

Inside the Mausoleum is a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and when we got to the doors we saw people walking in, then going around the back of the statue, and coming out the other side. Well we saw no purpose in doing that and instead looked for somewhere to sit down and rest. From there we followed a path up into a special area whose walls were lined with pictures and signs, and it was at that point that we discovered that behind the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, was the actual burial chamber in which his coffin is on display. Realising our original error by not entering the Sacrificial hall, we headed back there, only to discover that the place was now absolutely full of people and the queues were far too long. So we never got to look at the Sarcophagus! (Ghoulish eh?)

You can walk into this room and look at the Sarcophagus

Original Coffin of Dr. Sun Yat-sen

On June 1, 1929, the Grand National funeral was held at Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum in Nanjing.

Official paper for moving Dr. Sun's Coffin

On Nov 9, 1928, Lin Sen, Zheng Hong-nian and Wu Tie-chen worked as specialists to arrange the moving of Dr. Sun's coffin. On May 22, Dr. Sun's coffin was been moved from the Pagoda of Biyun Temple, and moved from Biyun Temple at 1:00 a.m. May 26, 1929, set out from Beijing Qian men railway station at 5:00 p.m. arrived Nanjing Pukou railway station at 10:00 a.m. May 28, then steamer Wei Sheng taking the coffin across the river to Nanjing Xia Guan port. Dr. Sun's coffin arrived KMT Central Government at 3:15 p.m. The public memorial service held three days.

Between leaving the cenotaph area and discovering the area where all the historical photographs and information were displayed, we took a break.

Learning from Previous Trips, we had ensured that we had taken supplies of Sports drinks and cookies to keep our energy up.  It was certainly needed given all the steps we had to climb.Naturally many people wandered past just to get a close up look at this foreign animal.



When you have been here long enough you learn to predict by body language, what people are going to do. It came as no surprise then when some boys asked me if they could have their photograph taken with me.  As the photographer was taking a photograph of us, I snapped a shot of him.

Wonderful views from the top of the Hill at the Mausoleum

After we had returned to the cenotaph and discovered it was useless trying to get in, we headed back down the steps and made our way back to the first archway opposite the Filial Scriptures Tripod.

Back at the entrance and just to the left of the archway (but on the other side of the road) there is a little bus stop where the courtesy 'train'/bus picks you up and takes you to the Linggu Temple area.

Leaving the archway and turning right takes you to the bus that takes you to the Ming Tomb. We went first to the Linggu Temple. 

Linggu Temple / Kuomintang Cemetery

If it was not bad enough that we had already endured the 392 steps ascending to 70 meters through 10 terraces to get to Sun Yatsen's Mausoleum, When we got to the Linggu Cemetery area, we had to climb more steps.

More and more steps wherever you go.

The cemetery was established on the site of Linggu Temple in 1935. Those buried in this cemetery are mainly officers and soldiers killed in the Northern Expedition or the Anti-Japanese Battle in Shanghai. The main buildings include the front gate (Hongshan Gate), the memorial archway, the sacrificial hall (Beamless Hall), the memorial hall (Pine-wind Pavilion) and the cenotaph (linggu Pagoda).

The archway is marked by reinforced concrete on a lofty platform above 42 stone steps. The 10-meter-high and five-arch building is roofed with green glazed tiles, full of power and grandeur. On the tablets of the archway there are eight characters meaning Benevolence and righteousness and Salvaging the nation and the people, which were written by Zhang Jingjiang, one of the senior members of Kuomintang. In front of the archway there is a pair of stone Pixiu (a kind of fabulous wild beast recorded in ancient books), each standing on one side. They were donated by the Seventeenth Army when the archway was built.

The Beamless Hall or Hall of Public Sacrifice

The Beamless Hall is the only survivor from the Ming Dynasty in Linggu Temple area. It was once called "Hall of Boundless Life" because it was built to worship the Amitabha Buddha, whose name means "Boundless life". The brick-vault structure was built without a single piece of wood or beam, hence resulting in its current name. The KMT government had a cemetery built here for the KIAs in 1931, it was changed into a hall for public sacrifice.

Steles of the Fallen

The Beamless Hall contains one hundred and ten blue stone steles, in which carved is the name list of soldiers of national revolutionary army who were killed in the war. Each stele is numbered and is arranged chronologically. In the first to sixty first stele carved are the names of national soldiers who died in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui privinces during the Nrothern Expedition (1926 to 1930). In the sixty second to sixty seventh stele carved are the names of soldiers from No. 19 Troop killed in Songhu anti-Japanese War (January to April 1932). In the sixty eighth to a hundred and tenth stele carved are the names of soldiers killed in North China anti-Japanese war (September 1931 to May 1933). The death toll amounts to 33,224.

The Beamless Hall contains lots of displays and signs.

Given that the Displays are behind glass, it was not that easy to get good photographs, but below are three examples of the signs that accompanied some of the displays.

Burning Yuanming Palace

In October 1860, the allied forces between Britain and France occupied Beijing. They looted over the city and burnt off the imperial garden Yuanming Palace.

Treaty of Nanjing

On August 29 1842, the Qing's government signed the humiliating Treaty of Nanjing with the British government. From then on, China gradually was downgraded to be a semi-colony and -feudal society.

Humen Anti-drug Campaign

In June 1839, Lin Tse-hus, a national hero, launched his anti-drug campaign. He forced foreign dealers to hand in over one million kilos opium, which was toally destroyed in Humen beach. Uprightness asserted itself through this action.

Discipline Hall of Linggu Temple / Memorial Hall of Revolution

This place used to be the Discipline Hall of Linggu Temple in the Ming Dynasty. When the Kuomintang built the Cemetery of the KIAs of the National Revolutionary Army in 1931, a "Memorial Hall of Revolution" was put up here. Designed by Murphy, a famous American architect, the building was completed in 1933 when objects left behind by the dead officers and soldiers were on display. After the founding of the PRC, it was renamed as Pine-wind Pavilion and changed into a small shop dealing in souvenirs. A stone tripod at the back of it was a gift from Liu Zhenhua, President of Anhui Province in the 1930's.

Linggu Pagoda. Very Dizzy climbing it.
Linggu Pogoda.

Built in 1931-1933, Linggu Pagoda used to be the memorial tower in honor of the KIAs of the National Revolutionary Army.

The nine-storeyed pagoda is 60 meters in height with 8 facets on each storey.

The inscription of jingzhong baoguo (meaning "Serving the nation with utmost loyalty") on the exterior walls of the pagoda was written by Chiang Kai-shek and on the interior walls of the pagoda was inscribed with Sun Yat-sen's speeches entitled "A Speech on the opening ceremony of Huangpu Military School" and "A Farewell speech made before the northward expedition", which were written respectively by Wu Jingheng and Yu Youren, two senior members of Kuomintang.

Remember now that we had already done a return trip on the 392 steps (plus terraces) at Sun Yatsen's Mausoleum, and had to climb about 100 steps to the archway at this Memorial to the Revolution; it was now the time to climb the interior stairwell of the Linggu Pogoda.

There were no signs, but I counted the steps. There were 249 of them winding tightly ever upward, with not enough space for two people to comfortably pass each other. Those 249 steps of course had also to be descended. I was literally dizzy. Both on the way up and the way down, I kept my eyes focused on my feet and numbered out the steps aloud. Everyone thought I was crazy, including the French couple at the top who assumed that since my guide and I were speaking English that I would not also be able to speak French. (!*%> smart alecs!)

From the top one had some magnificent views of Zhongshan Mountain Park and the climb was actually worth it.

From the Pagoda we took a walk down the track to visit a little community which contained both an old style Temple and a construction site for a more modern version or addition.  I didn't take any photographs of the interior of the temple, nor in fact of anything outside either. Apart from the lunch we had, and the fact that the trees were 'snowing' leaves and flowers which stuck in what little hair I have, I don't really recall anything that stuck in my mind.

After our lunch we headed off to visit the Ming Tombs about which I have previously written.

Linggu Temple today.

The following day we went to the Confucius Temple and the Presidential Palace of Chiang Kai-shek. (The following week, my school took the foreign teachers to Ningbo, where we learned more about Chiang Kai-shek).

Well, that's it for this section of our trip. I hope this article was insightful. There are Larger Photos and Additional Information both Here  and Here at Kingscalendar.



At Magic City

R.P.BenDedek is the pseudonym of the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (, and is a guest columnist at Magic City Morning Star News. An Australian, he currently teaches Conversational English in China.

 Photographic Stories from China at Kingscalendar

"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.

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