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Ghost City of Fengdu

About 170 kilometers downstream from Chongqing Municipality, there is a very famous tourist attraction called Ghost City of Fengdu. It was built on the Mount Ming on the north bank of Yangtze River with the mountain covered by many religious temples.

The Ghost City is ever called Youdu (Capital of Netherworld) in ancient time. This should be traced back to the Spring and Autumn period of China. The name of Youdu is related to the tribes of Di and Qiang Nationality whose religion relates to the supernatural belief of the existence of ghosts. These people mainly lived in the current Sichuan and Chongqing area and Fengdu County used to be the dwellings of the King of Ghost (Tubo)

Another legend about the Ghost City of Fengdu is that this place was given the current nickname in the Eastern Han Dynasty nearly 2000 years ago. According to the story, Yin Changsheng and Wang Fangping, the two retired officials found Mount Ming was the best place to practice Taoism. Through self-cultivation they finally became immortals and ascended to the Heaven. The people combined their surnames together to produce the term "Yianwang" (“king of hell” in Chinese). Later, during the Tang Dynasty, a temple was built on Mount Ming depicting life in hell. It displays all sorts of demonic images and torture devices and by doing this it reflects Chinese ancient notion that good people will be treated well in the afterlife and that bad people will be punished by sending to hell.

In the ghost City, all the main buildings relate to the supernatural belief and can be classified into three types of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism such as the Hall of Hengha, Palace of Son of the Heaven, Naihe Bridge (Nothing-to-be-done Bridge), and Huang Quan Road (Road to Yellow Spring), Platform of Wangxiang (Home looking Platform) and Palace of Medicine (or the Bhaisajyaguru Hall). Legendary story tells that these are the places where the people’s soul will go through after death.

In the Chinese vision of the afterlife, the dead (or ghosts) must undergo three major tests to enter the netherworld. These tests are taken at three locations - Nothing-To-Be-Done-Bridge; Ghost Torturing Pass and the Tianzi Palace (Palace of the Son of the Heaven). These three locations are the best attraction spots in the Ghost City.

Nothing-To-Be-Done-Bridge: Built during the Ming Dynasty, the bridge symbolizes the connection between the netherworld with the real world. According to legend, the Nothing-To-Be-Done-Bridge is composed of three identical stone arches. The middle arch is used for testing people. There are different protocols for crossing the bridge depending on your gender, age and marital status. Below the bridge are square-shaped pools of water. Virtuous people will pass over the bridge without difficulty; villainous people will fall into the pools below and swallowed by the evil. The other two arches are called the golden and silver bridges respectively.

Ghost Torturing Pass: The Ghost Torturing Pass is the second test before entering into the netherworld. This is the place where the dead report to the Yama, the King of Hell who ruled the Nether state, for judgment. In front of the structure there are eighteen sculptures depicting ferocious demons. Each of these devils is quite lifelike creating a feeling of true eeriness.

Tianzi Palace: With a history over three hundred years the palace covers an area of nearly 2,908 square yards. It is composed of a temple archway and the palace itself. The archway is made of wood and stone rising to a height of nearly 33 feet. The palace is the nerve center of the Ghost City and is the oldest and largest temple on Mount Ming.

The third test to evade hell takes place on a large stone in front of the archway of Tianzi Palace. The ghost must stand on the stone on one foot for three minutes. Those who successfully did this proved as a good person and those who failed to do this will be sent to hell as evil.

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