The Black Dragon Pool is a famous pond in the scenic Jade Spring Park (Yu Quan Gong Yuan) located at the foot of Elephant Hill, a short walk north of the Old Town of Lijiang in Yunnan province, China. It was built in 1737 during the Qing Dynasty and offers a spectacular view on the region's tallest mountain, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, over its white marble bridge.
The Black Dragon Pool is located 12 kilometers northeast of the city. It first became a popular tourist attraction over 700 years ago during the Ming Dynasty. The area contains many attractions alongside the main tourist draw, the Black Dragon Pool itself. The Black Dragon Pool was named after a legend stating that in ancient times there was a black dragon living in this pool.
Two important building complexes in the Black Dragon Pool are the Longquan Temple (Dragon Spring Temple) and Black Dragon Palace. Longquan Temple, the largest structure in the park, was built along the pool during the early Han Dynasty. The temple was enlarged and reconstructed several times throughout subsequent dynasties. Most of the buildings visitors see today were completed during the Qing Dynasty. The Black Dragon Palace is at the bank of the pool, which is where memorial ceremonies were once held. This palace was built during the Ming Dynasty, around 700 years ago. It consists of three halls and two courtyards.
In front of the two temples, visitors will find huge ancient trees, including a plum, cypress, and camellia tree. The plum tree was planted over 1,200 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. The branches of the tree spread out in all directions while its roots twist and crisscross. The cypress tree, planted during the Song Dynasty, is a bit younger. The tree trunk takes four to five men to circle with their arms stretched out. The third tree is a camellia tree planted during the Ming Dynasty.
Features of Black Dragon Pool
Heading north along Square Street of Lijiang Old Town, you reach Heilongtan Pool (Black Dragon Pool) at the foot of the Elephant Hill. The pool is also called Jade Spring Park, reflecting its endless bubbling clear spring waters.
The Heilongtan pool is enormous, with an area of 40 hectares (over 430,000 sqft), and it provides a haven for bird and water-life, with spectacular plants. Surrounding the pool, within the park's landscape, are ancient monuments such as the Longshen Temple, the Deyue Pavilion, the Suocui Bridge and the Hanyue Stage.
The arrival at the park is along a colored cobbled lane to reach a white marble bridge over emerald water: the Suocui Bridge. To your north, weather permitting, you might see the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain with its white snow, the source of the Jade Spring and its famous white clouds. The Deyue Pavilion rests at the center of the lake, on the same axis as the Hanyue Stage. At the gate, there is a pair of couplets inscribed by the famous Chinese writer Guo Moruo.
The Longshen Temple is the impressive centre-piece of the park. It consists of a gate-house with two wings and a great hall. 'Longshen' means Dragon God in Chinese, the God of Rain in Chinese mythology. The temple was built during Emperor Qianlong's reign in 1737, and was conferred the 'Longshen' accolade by the Emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911); this title reflected the high esteem of the Heilongtan Pool.
Every March, when the weather is delightful, the local community gathers at the Dragon God Temple to pray and seek blessing. The emerald spring waters are famous for their curative powers, whether for stomach troubles or to enhance your complexion.
How to get Black Dragon Pool
15 minutes' walking from the Old Town of Lijiang or taking a taxi