Sightseeing at Huhhot City – Dazhao Temple 大召寺, Five Pagoda Temple 五塔寺, Sai Shang Old Street 塞上老街

24 September, 2013

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On 24 September, 2013
Last modified:24 September, 2013

Summary:

Hohhot ( 呼和浩特市 or more commonly referred by locals as 呼市) is the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in north-central China, serving as the region's administrative, economic, and cultural centre. The name of the city in Mongolian means "Blue City" — Kuku-Khoto in Mongolian - although it is also wrongly referred to as the Green City. The color blue in Mongol culture is associated with the sky, eternity and purity; in Chinese, the name can be translated as Qīng Chéng (青城), literally, "Blue/Green City.

Besides the Xilamuren Grasslands, there are a few places of attractions in Huhhot too e.g. Dazhao Temple, Five Pagoda Temple.  As part of the Shangri-La Grassland Experience Package, you can explore 2 of the following destinations with a chauffeured Shangri-La Huhhot hotel limousine – Cashmere Market / Muslim Cultural Street / Antique Market / Zhaojun Tomb / Caishen Temple (God of Fortune Temple) / Dazhao Temple or Xiaozhao Temple.  We will provide a quick overview of each of its tourist sightseeing attractions in Huhhot.

Hohhot ( 呼和浩特市 or more commonly referred by locals as 呼市) is the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in north-central China, serving as the region’s administrative, economic, and cultural centre.  The name of the city in Mongolian means “Blue City” — Kuku-Khoto in Mongolian – although it is also wrongly referred to as the Green City. The color blue in Mongol culture is associated with the sky, eternity and purity; in Chinese, the name can be translated as Qīng Chéng (青城), literally, “Blue/Green City”.

Five Pagoda Temple 五塔寺

Temple of the Five Pagodas (五塔寺) is also known as the “Precious Pagoda of the Buddhist Relics of the Diamond Throne” (金刚座舍利宝塔) is a Buddhist temple located in the older part of the city in the vicinity of Qingcheng Park.  It is not actually a temple but the pagoda of the no-longer-standing Cideng Temple (慈灯寺). The remaining pagoda was first built in 1732 and has since been restored.  The distinctive five pagodas surmount contains a temple with 1563 images of Buddha carved into its walls each differing slightly to the other. Inside is a rare Mongolian cosmological map carved into a large stone which illustrates the zodiac and positions of numerous stars.

From pictures, it appears that the Five Pagoda Temple looked quite big and majestic but the pagoda is actually just 16 meters high (about 51 feet).

Admission fee:  RMB 35

Opening Hours: 8am-5:30pm daily

How to get there: Walking distance from the Dazhao Great Lamasery and Xilitu Lamasery.  Take a taxi or bus (Number 6, 7 and 8)
Five Pagoda Temple 五塔寺 Huhhot Inner Mongolia City Tour Sightseeing

Dazhao Temple 大召寺

Founded in 1579, Dazhao Temple 大召寺 has been the centre for Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Mongolia and boasts impressive murals and one of the largest silver Buddhas in China.  It is also known locally as the Yinfo Temple (银佛寺) (Silver Buddha Temple) because of the rare 2.5-metre high silver statue of Sakyamuni (the founder of Buddhism).  Dazhao Temple owns its fame to a visit by the third Tibetan Dalai Lama in 1586, when he came to dedicate the Silver Buddha statue.  Another notable event in the temple’s long history was a visit by Emperor Kangxi during the early part of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Dazhao Temple is well-known for its “Three Treasures” – the 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) Silver Buddha statue, a dragon sculpture and fantastic wall paintings.

Admission:  RMB 30

Opening Hours:  8am-6:30pm daily

How to get there:  Just a few minutes from Xilitu Lamasery (Xiaozhao) and Five Pagoda Temple.  Take a bus (Number 6, 7 and 8).  The Dazhao Temple is just 15 minutes’ walk south of the Great Mosque, along Tongdao Street (通道街) to Danan Street (大南街). The temple is then off to your right, down a small lane. Or take Number 1 bus, and stop at Armed Police Hospital (武警医院).

Xilitu Zhao 席力图召

When orders were made by founder Altan Khan to build Hohhot, he ordered the construction of the Dazhao Great Lamasery and Xilitu Lamasery.  The holy seat and residence of the reincarnation of the Living Buddha, Xilitu Lamasery (席力图召) was constructed over the course of 50 years during the reign of Ming Emperor Wan Li for the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso.

Featuring one of the most well-preserved Lama pagodas in Inner Mongolia, Xilitu Lamasery is a structure built in the symmetrical Han style, and adorned with Tibetan-style murals and Sanskrit inscriptions.  It is the largest Buddhist temple in the city and main seat of Buddhism in Inner Mongolia.  It is also commonly referred to as Xiaozhao (a smaller version of Dazhao).

Admission:  RMB 10

Opening Hours:8am-5pm daily

How to get there:  Just a few minutes walk from the Great Lamasery (Da Zhao) and Five Pagoda Temple.  Take a taxi or bus (Number 6, 7 and 8)

Dazhao 大召寺 Lamasery Temple Huhhot Inner Mongolia City Tour Sightseeing

Sai Shang Old Street 塞上老街

The Sai Shang Old Street 塞上老街 is located right next to Dazhao Temple.  There are quite a number of streetside stalls and shops selling all kinds of Mao memorabilia and Mongolian souvenirs.  Things are generally quite cheap and you won’t be find to find conventional souvenirs e.g. postcards, magnets and other kitschy stuff here.

塞上老街 Sai Sang Old Street Huhhot Inner Mongolia City Tour Sightseeing

Sai Sang Old Street 塞上老街 Huhhot Inner Mongolia City Tour Sightseeing

Huhhot Muslim Cultural Street 回民街

Unlike Muslim Quarters in Xi’an, the Muslim Cultural Street is actually a long stretch of road that features a few buildings built in a very Muslim architectural styles – however, other than these buildings, it doesn’t really seem like a Muslim Quarter.  The Hohhot Great Mosque 清真大寺 is the key attraction here at the Muslim Cultural Street.  It was built during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) when the Hui Muslim Minority migrated from Xinjiang to Mongolia. Hohhot Great Mosque was built in traditional Chinese style with Arabian interior decorations with a 15 meter-tall minaret. Traditional Chinese bricks carving with Arabian characters are largely used for its decorations.  If you are expecting Great Mosque with a scale as big as that of the Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, you will be quite disappointed as it is quite small.

Admission:  RMB 5

Opening Hours: 8:30am-6pm daily

How to get there:  Take a taxi or from the Muslim Quarter, look out for the big white mosque-like structure (but it is actually a restaurant!) located next to the Great Mosque.  The Great Mosque is located about 1 km directly north of the cluster of Buddhist temples that includes the Xilitu Lamasery, the Dazhao Great Lamasery and Five Pagoda Temple.  From the temples, follow Danan Jie (大南街) north until it becomes Tongdao Bei Lu (通道北路).  Bus number 7 also heads to the mosque.

Muslim Street Hui Min Huhhot Inner Mongolia City Tour Sightseeing

Zhaojun Tomb 昭君墓

Zhaojun Tomb is located about nine kilometers (approx. 6 miles) away from Hohhot.  It is also called ‘green tomb’ after the green grass that grows on the tomb.  The tomb is a large man-made earthen mound, which is 33 meters (approx. 108 feet) high. It was built to commemorate a great woman named Wang Zhaojun, who was one of the four most beautiful ladies in ancient China “Four Beauties of Ancient China”, and who sacrificed herself for the unity of China by marrying Khan.

In front of the tomb, bronze statues of Wang Zhaojun and her husband (Khan), depict a vivid picture of them riding horses and talking to each other intimately. The statues are the symbol of the friendly relations between the Han nationality and the Hun nationality, which was greatly promoted by Wang Zhaojun.

The tomb is famous for its spectacular scenery. The summer months are mild, and the wild flowers and grasses grow in abundance, creating a beautiful natural picture together with the towering green trees. When autumn comes in September, unlike grasses which shriveled and yellow at this time of the year, the grass growing on the tomb is still green and vigorous.

Like the Genghis Khan Mausoleum at Ordos, the Zhaojun Tomb is more of a memorial as the site of the actual tomb of Wang Zhaojun is unknown.  If you are short for time in Huhhot, you might want to skip this and just check out Dazhao Lamasery.

Admission:  RMB 65

Opening Hours:  8am-6pm daily

How to get there:  Take a cab or take bus number 1 to the Nan Chafang/Xiao Heihe stop (南茶坊/小黑河站) and switch to bus number 10 or 44.

Inner Mongolia Museum 内蒙古博物馆

The Inner Mongolia Museum 內蒙古博物館 has over 44,000 objects relating to ethnic history in its collections.  The museum provides an insight into the history and traditions of the Mongolian people exhibiting paraphernalia used by nomadic Mongols, including saddles, costumes, archery and polo equipment and a ger (a portable tent used by Central Asian nomads).

The Inner Mongolia Museum is also renowned for its extensive collection of fossils and dinosaur remains found in both Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia including a complete skeleton of a wooly rhinoceros unearthed from a coal mine in Manzhouli.

The upper floor of the museum is dedicated to the life of Genghis Khan who in the 13th century united the disparate Mongol tribes and established one of the largest land empires in human history.  Many of the maps and objects on display have English captions.

Admission: Free – You will need to reserve your tickets to the Inner Mongolia Museum one day in advance; check with your hotel concierge for assistance in this matter.

Opening Hours: 9am-4:30pm Tue-Sun in summer, 9am-4pm Tues-Sun in winter

How to get there:  On the corner of Xinhua Dong Jie (新华东街) and East Second Ring Road (东二环路), the museum can be reached by taking bus numbers 2, 3, 16, 27, 53, 59, 66, 67, 72, 75 or 89.

For more information, see Inner Mongolia Museum website (in Chinese): http://www.nmgbwy.com/

This long video (not produced by PassportChop.com) provides an overview of the Inner Mongolia Museum:

For accommodation options in Huhhot, we strongly recommend Shangri-La Huhhot. For a great dining experience in Huhhot, Chef Menex from Shang Palace Shangri-La Huhhot can prepare quite a number of creative fusion dishes that can certainly make you want for more!

Zhiqiang & Tingyi