Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street

Home>>China Cities>>Xiamen Travel Guide>>Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street

Sunlight Rock
Sunlight Rock

Also known as Huang Rock, Sunlight Rock is the most famous scenic spot in Xiamen. Sunlight Rock consists of two hugh rocks, one horizontal and the other vertical. The two rocks leaning on with each other, with an elevation of 92.68 meters, form the highest spot of Gulangyu Island. The lofty and rugged rocks in the mountains form many caverns and gullies, while pavilions, kiosks and terraces are tucked away in the lushly growing woods. When Zheng Chenggong, China's national hero, recovered Taiwan, his troops were stationed here, leaving behind a lot of stories.

Located in this area, Sunlight Rock Temple is one of the four top Buddhist temples in Xiamen. The temple was first built in the Ming Dynasty and was famed far and wide, attracting accomplished monks throughout the dynasties.

Sunlight Rock
Sunlight Rock

What to see

Sunlight Rock's oldest carving was inscribed about 400 years ago on a rock near the main gate and reads, "Gulang Dongtian": "Gulangyu-a Fairyland." The 100-year-old characters to the left read, "Lujiang Diyi". The horizontal characters, "Tianfeng Haitao", carved in 1915, suggest that you can hear both roaring wind and raging sea as you climb Sunlight Rock.

Sunlight Rock Temple, one of Xiamen's four most important temples during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, was built between 1506 and 1521 and called Lotus Temple. It was rebuilt in 1596 and renamed Sunlight Rock Temple, and is now dedicated to worship of Guanyin, goddess of mercy (a formerly male deity whom Chinese women changed to female over 1,000 years ago because they felt male deities were unsympathetic to their needs).

Sunlight Rock Scenic Area is Xiamen's premier tourist attraction. There is a saying that if you haven't ascended Sunlight Rock, you haven't really been to Xiamen.

Reviews of Sunlight Rock

Chinese say the 92.7m high Sunlight Rock, known as Dragon Head Hill (Longtou Shan) by Chinese and Camel Rock (Luotuo Shan) by foreigners, faces Tiger Head Hill across the bay on Xiamen Island, and that the dragon and tiger team up to guard Xiamen Harbor's entrance.

Sunlight Rock Temple
Sunlight Rock Temple

In America, "rolling stones gather no moss", in China, they gather no inscriptions. But Sunlight Rock, like any Chinese rock that sits still long enough, is covered with calligraphic inscriptions¡ªover 80, in fact, the most famous being "Heroic Spirit of South Fujian Sea," a eulogy to Koxinga, Another inscription claims that in 1609 a Ming Dynasty official named Chi Zhifu built a flower and bamboo garden at the foot of Sunlight Rock, and researchers have unearthed Ming Dynasty relics in the area.

Sunlight Rock's oldest carving was inscribed about 400 years ago on a rock near the main gate and reads, "Gulang Dongtian": "Gulangyu-a Fairyland." The 100-year-old characters to the left read, "Lujiang Diyi": "#1 Scenery of the Lujiang River." The horizontal characters, "Tianfeng Haitao", carved in 1915, suggest that you can hear both roaring wind and raging sea as you climb Sunlight Rock.

The Fort Gate, one of the islet's most prized sites, is all that remains of Koxinga's fortress.The gate is 74 cm wide by 174 cm high. The largest stones had holes that supported the houses' roof beams.

Sunlight Rock Temple
Sunlight Rock Temple

The Fort Gate of course has its share of classic chiseled inscriptions, such as this poem about Koxinga written by educator Mr. Cai Yuanpei:
Master of wind and waves,
Amidst the cloud of battle calmly commands,
Though he sacrificed his steadfast spirit,
He was upright to the last.

Koxinga's Command Platform, Through the Fort Gate and to the right is " Wanzai Pavilion". "Wanzai" infers "heroic spirit yet remains", and from this 15 meter high by 6 meter wide granite outcropping, the great man commanded his troops. The large engraved characters, "Minghai Xiongfeng," eulogize Koxinga's heroism and determination. The sea is now a good distance from the command platform but in Koxinga's day the junks could sail at high tide right up to the base of Sunlight Rock.

The Ancient Summer Resort Cave: A century ago, the famous Taiwanese poet Shi Shijie painted on the cave's roof "Gu Bi Shu Dong ": "Ancient Summer Resort Cave." . But it isn't really a "resort ". It's not really a cave either, but Chinese apply that appellation loosely to just about any natural configuration that casts a hint of a shadow. This so-called "resort cave" is but a 10 meter enclosure formed by one massive rock leaning against another. But this happy consanguinity afforded centuries of pleasure to Chinese who, lacking television, watched rocks instead (an eminently patient people!), and delighted in naming these rocks after whatever they resembled. The "resort cave's" two stones supposedly resemble "ren", for "people".

Sunlight Rock Temple (Riguangyan Si), one of Xiamen's four most important temples during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, was built between 1506 and 1521 and called Lotus Temple (Lianhua An). It was rebuilt in 1596 and renamed Sunlight Rock Temple, and is now dedicated to worship of Guanyin, goddess of mercy (a formerly male deity whom Chinese women changed to female over 1,000 years ago because they felt male deities were unsympathetic to their needs).

Sunlight Rock
Sunlight Rock

Sunlight Rock Temple, which is partially within a cave, is often called "One Tile Roof " (Yipian Wa) because a large rock forms part of the roof. It is also called a "Pocket Temple" because it encompasses only 2,856m. But though its location, scrunched up within a rock, prevents it from sprawling like other temples, it makes up for size by its exquisite setting, with uniquely Chinese eaves, arches, columns, and glazed colored tiles. The neighboring European architecture only reinforces the essential Chineseness of this pocket-temple. This is China's only temple in which the Buddha Hall and Maitreya (Milefuo) Hall are face to face. There was also a Xu Booth built between 1723 and 1735, but all that remains is a cliff inscription.

Abbot Liuzhan administered Sunlight temple from 1851 to 1872, and built Yuanmin Palace.Yuanmin Palace was replaced in 1854 with the 'Study Buddha Hall' (Nianfo Tang,). After a fire damaged the hall in 1960, Abbott Zhengguo asked for donations from his mas-ter Shanqi in the Philippines.The Biguang building, Gongde Hall, Zu Hall were removed and the dorms were rebuilt. Gulangyu Electric Works took over the temple during the Cultural Revolution but returned it in 1983, and the temple got a two million Yuan facelift after Xiamen became a Special Economic Zone.