|In the midst of all the devilsh statues is an uplifting message. The complex
Chinese symbol inscribed on this tablet reads: “Only kindness brings peace.”
Where We Be
|Incense candles burn in front of an enormous golden Buddha
Known as the Ghost City to most Chinese,
Fengdu is a seriously photogenic place.
According to legend, "The dead come to
Fengdu and the devils go to hell." Nearly 50
temples have been built here since the days of
the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD), with evocative
names like the Palace of Hell and the Balcony of
Nostalgia. From the tallest structure, the Home
Viewing Pavilion, the recently dead are said to
be able to see their families and loved ones as
they make their way to the underworld.
We climb a whole lot of steps to get to Fengdu,
so it must be a steep journey to and from hell.
Perhaps the original builders had special
powers of foresight, since they built their
Ghost City just high enough that it will become
an island once waters rise to their highest level.
At the top, we enter a picturesque courtyard
filled with blooming trees, white curving
bridges, carved statues of laughing demons
and gargoyles, and brightly painted temples.
We successfully cross the Bridge of Love in
nine steps, which means we’ll stay together in
the next life. Many members of our group opt
instead for the Bridge of Health to the left or
the Bridge of Prosperity to the right.
Nearby is an iron ball that you’re supposed to
lift and balance on top of a peg to demonstrate
your fidelity. Unfortunately I can’t even budge
it! Then again, it weighs 400 pounds. We watch
a Chinese man use a special technique to roll
the ball into place on top of the peg.
Fengdu is full of fascinating statues. Incense
burns in front of an enormous golden Buddha
surrounded on all sides by life-size golden
bodhisattvas. Another room contains garishly
painted, life-size statues of warrior demons
who stick out their tongues and make goulish
faces at us. We spend almost three hours
wandering through the complex of temples and
courtyards. “Welcome back from hell,” our
guide says with a smile as we reboard the ship.
|Circular entryways are a recurring theme here
|This colonnaded walkway beckons you to keep walking to the end
|This picturesque courtyard with blooming trees and wide pathways is at the center of Fengdu
|We wouldn't want to meet these life-size warrior demons in a dark Fengdu alley
|Even this propped-up straw broom seems photogenic somehow
|Robin pleads for her life to this gargoyle executioner with raised ax
|Perhaps this bridge offers an alternate path to the afterlife
|Robin gets the credit for this lovely image of colorful parasols
|Buddha watches from behind a window screen
|The Home Viewing Pavilion is the tallest structure in Fengdu. The dead
are said to be able to see their families and loved ones from here.
|This demon is chortling about something...if only we could read Chinese
|This tranquil courtyard invites quiet reflection