Located in the south suburb of Chengdu, the temple covers 37,000 square meters (398,277 square feet). The date of its establishment is unclear, only that it was built next to the temple of Liu Bei, the emperor of Shu. It was combined with the Temple of Liu Bei at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty; consequently, the entrance plaque reads 'Zhaolie Temple of Han Dynasty' (Zhaolie is the posthumous title of Liu Bei). The current temple was rebuilt in 1672. Surrounded by old cypresses and classical red walls, the temple evokes nostalgia.
Wuhou (Martial Marquis) Memorial Temple is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, the Martial Marquis of Shu in the Three Kingdoms. Zhuge Liang was the personification of noble character and intelligence. Memorial temples erected in many places after his death include a famous one in Chendu.
The main body of the temple is divided into five sections, the Gate, the second Gate, the Hall of Liu Bei, the corridor, and the Hall of Zhuge Liang, all of which run south to north. Inside, clay sculptures of Shu Emperor and ministers stand together, making them a special feature.
The most valuable cultural relic within the temple is the stele set up in 809. This huge stele 367-centimeter (144-inch) high and 95-centimeter (37-inch) wide is called the Triple-Success Stele. The three successes are: an article written by Pei Du, a famous minister of the Tang Dynasty who served four emperors in succession, calligraphy by Liu Gongquan, one of the most brilliant calligraphers in Chinese history, and a statement about the morality and achievements of Zhuge Liang.
His great personality, his dedicated service to others, and his outstanding intelligence place Zhuge Liang above all emperors, generals, and ministers in history. A visit to the temple illuminates his status with the Chinese people.
Wuhou Temple (Temple of Marquis Wu) in the southern suburbs of Chengdu is dedicated to the memory of both Liu Bei (161-223), Emperor of the Kingdom of Shu in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280), and Zhuge Liang (181-234), Prime Minister of the Kingdom.
Chengdu belongs to subtropics monsoon climate. It has early spring, hot summer, cool autumn, and warm winter. The average temperature in Chengdu is 16oC. The best travel time is from March to June and from September to December.
The Gate: There is horizontal inscribed board hanging over the Gate with the words "Han ZhaoLie Hou". "Han" was the title of Liu Bei's regime, historically "Shu Han". "ZhaoLie" was Liu Bei's posthumous title. This horizontal inscribed board shows that this temple is mainly dedicated to the memory of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. Then why is it called Wuhou Memorial Temple? A poem by Zou Lu in the Republic of China reads like this: ,Despite the title of the emperor over gate, it's well known for Wuhou Memorial temple, only because fame is usually second to achievement., That is to say, due to his historical achievements, Zhuge Liang's prestige has outweighed that of Liu Bei, the emperor. Therefore, people call it Wuhou Memorial Temple regardless of hierarchy of power and its original name. On both sides from the Gate to the second Gate, there are six stone tablets; four of them were inscribed in Qing Dynasty, one in Ming Dynasty, another in Tang Dynasty. The Qing stone tablets records the situation of rebuilding and maintenance of the temple, while the Ming tablet focuses on the history. The Tang tablet is the most valuable one known as "Three Perfect Tablet", because its article, penmanship and engraving were made all by famous men.
The Second Gate: Entering the Second Gate, visitors will see 37 stone tablets inlaid into the walls. Every stone tablet is 63cm high and 58cm wide, on which the "Former Expedition Petition" ,and the "Later Expedition Petition", were engraved. The calligraphy was made by Yue Fei, a famous general in Song Dynasty. It's said that on his way to fight against Jin's (a minority in northern China in Song Dynasty) intrusion, Yue Fei spent one night at Wuhou Memorial Temple (another one in Nan Yang) and wrote the famous "Former and Later Expedition Petition ",pouring his emotion and enthusiasm in them. Both the calligraphy and engraving are so marvelous that makes the tablet enjoy a high artistic value. The Former Expedition Petition was written to Liuchan, the emperor of Shu, by Zhuge Liang before he lead his army for the Northern Expedition. The words were very sincere and touching to the depths of reader's soul. An old saying goes like this: who that doesn't shed tears after reading the First Expedition Petition is not loyal enough. The Later Expedition Petition was a report by Zhuge Liang after receiving a defeat at Jieting. one sentence is much quoted from the "Later Expedition Petition": "One should exert his utmost to fulfill his duties until death and give his best till his heart ceases to beat."
The Hall of Liu Bei : In the middle of the Hall of Liu Bei stands the gilt clay statue of Liu Bei. Statues of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, Liu Bei's sworn brothers, are in side halls. Passing through the hallway, in both sides there are corridors with 14 lifelike statues of the civil and military officials of Shu. In yellow dress, the statue of Liu Bei is 3m high, a crown with tassels on the head and a scepter in hand. Two attendants stand o?n each side with imperial jade seal held by one and a sword held by another.
Eastern side of the statue of Liu Bei is the statue of Liu Zhan, Liu Bei's grandson. Liu Zhan was the fifth son of Liu Chan. Facing invasion from Wei Kingdom, Liu Zhan admonished strenuously to his father to fight the enemy to the finish, but Liu Chan rejected his proposal. With great grief and indignation, Liu Zhan wailed bitterly before the statue of Liu Bei, then committed suicide after killing his wife and son. His spirit of dying for his country won him great eulogy. The western side stood originally the statue of Liu Chan; his statue was destroyed in Song Dynasty. But his statue had never been restored due to that Liu Chan couldn't protect his country and surrender to his enemy to be a Marquis of Happiness, who was indulged in pleasure and forgot his country and duty. Wooden carved ,biography of Liu Bei, and ,biography of Liu Chan, were hung on both side walls of the Hall of Liu Bei. The texts of the two biographies were taken from a history book named ",History of Three Kingdoms," by Chen Shou. The rise and fall of Shu could be seen from the two biographies.
In the eastern side hall were statues of Guan Yu, his sons Guan Ping and Guan Xing, and his subordinates Zhou Cang and Zhao Lei. Both Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, alleged as "Tiger General", were valiant generals who followed Liu Bei to fight up and down the country. They and Liu Bei maintained a close relation like brothers. Though having been captured by Cao Cao, Guan Yu still kept loyal to Liu Bei in spite of facing Cao Cao's efforts to win him over by promising high official posts and other favors. After occupying Jingzhou, Liu Bei appointed Guan Yu to guard it, who was too conceited to be prudent. Later, he received a sneak attack from Lu Meng, a general of Wu Kingdom and was killed along with Guan Ping, Zhao Lei. Jingzhou got lost.
Guan Yu was held in high esteem by rulers in many a dynasty; he had become the incarnation of loyalty and righteousness. He was conferred upon a king posthumously in Song Dynasty and a God in Ming and Qing dynasties. The emperors had issued imperial edicts to build temples to the memory of Guan Yu. Therefore, the statue of Guan Yu here was dressed as a king.
The statues of Zhang Fei, his son and grandson were placed in the western side hall. With black face, big head and wide eyes, thick beard and mustache, Zhang Fei had an awesome bearing. It's said that his shout had frightened away thousands of soldiers of Cao Cao who retreated in the face of Zhang Fei. Zhang Fei used to whip his subordinates for no reason at all. Later, he was killed by his own men, Zhang Da and Fan Qiang just before Zhang Fei planed to lead troops to attack the rival kingdom of Wu, in response for the death of Guan Yu.
There are another fourteen statues of martial officials of Shu Han in the corridor for their dazzling achievements in war or being killed on the battlefield.
The Corridor: Next to the Hall of Liu Bei is the Corridor, which is one step lower than the Hall of Liu Bei. That's a reflection of rigid hierarchy of power in feudal society. There are also hanging some antithetical couplets written by Dong Biwu, Guo Moruo, Feng Yuxiang, Xu Beihong and Shu Tong.
The Hall of Zhuge Liang: Among many antithetical couplets hanging on the pillars in front of the Hall, one is commonly well known. This one is written by Zhao Fan in Qing Dynasty. The first line of the couplet mentioned that Zhuge Liang is expert in psychological tactics. He was a strategist instead of a militarist. For example, in the Southern Expedition, he had captured Meng Huo, a chief leader of a minority group for seven times, and released him again and again until Meng Huo conceded defeat from the bottom of his heart. The second line of the couplet said that Zhuge Liang is a talent at reading the signs of the times. He had enacted proper laws and decrees that yielded desired results, which should remind the administrators of Sichuan to draw on benefits from Zhuge Liang's administration. This couplet made objective assessment on Zhuge Liang's ability of using military forces and managing government affairs. At the same time, the couplet also raised two questions on how to use psychological tactics and how to judge the hour and size up the situation. Thus it became a top couplet in the Wuhou Memorial Temple and one of the famous couplets in China.
In the Hall of Zhuge Liang, gilt clay statues of Zhuge Liang, his son and grandson can be seen. Gilt, statue of Zhuge Liang is situated in the middle with feather fan and silk kerchief, Zhuge Liang bears an appearance of concerns about his country and his people. He looks circumspect and farsighted, has a bearing of forethought and foresight.
The Tomb of Liu Bei: Covered with green grass and surrounded by a brick wall as long as 180 meters, the Tomb of Liu Bei was 12 meters high. In front of the tomb stand a gravestone and a coffin chamber. Liu Bei was badly defeated in the war against Wu; he withdrew to the Baidicheng and died form illness in April, 223. In May, Zhuge Liang carried Liu Bei's bier back to Chengdu and buried him in August. The Tomb of Liu Bei is also called "Hui Mausoleum". It's recorded that empress Gan and empress Wu were also buried in the tomb of Liu Bei. The tomb was not found robbed after 1700 years and what's inside is unclear.