In total there are over 60 historical sites to be visited and enjoyed in Yinchuan and its vicinity.
The Yinchuan Report
Yuhuang Pavilion and Drum Tower (银川鼓楼) of Yinchuan:
One of the most remarkable landmarks of Yinchuan is no doubt the so called Yuhuangge or Pavilion of the Jade Emperor. Although only modest in size the Yuhuangge is a unique ancient architectural structure most resembling an ancient city gate, with on top the array of a Temple arranged in the small space of the Top Platform.
Situated in the center of the old Town of Yinchuan city (Xingcheng District) it stands only some 200 meters due East of the Bell- and Drumtower (Zhonggulou) on Jiefang East Street. The two towers combined with the green and ponds of the small Ning Yuan - Jade Garden form a small and comfortable niche where many of the towns citizens dwell for their leisure and down time. It is nearly always busy around both towers and the park, yet a soothing calm always prevails. In the morning the park is a good
Map of Old City Center, the Drum Tower, Yuhuang pavilion and nearby site of the (new) Ningxia Provincial Museum.
A frontal view of the refreshing architecture of the Yinchuan Yuhuangge on Jiefang East Street across from Ning Yuan (Jade Garden).
location to sit down and have a back- and neck-massage while enjoying and appreciating the view of the colorful and delicate Yuhuangge. At lunch the park and towers offer good surroundings for a meal and perhaps a stroll while the waters of Ning Yuan provide somewhat of a cool down from the heat of the day, while at the end of the afternoon the masseurs return. Later, until late in the evening and sometimes night locals flock to these surroundings to sit down and enjoy the spicy local barbecue with friends, take the baby out for a stroll or to sit down at the fountain and enjoy the romantic light shining on the Yuhuangge and Bell- and Drum-tower beyond with a loved one.
Nearby, one street to the West of the Yuhuangge stands the current Bell- and Drum Tower or Zhonggulou. Nothing much is known about it. That is, as with the Yuhuangge, the Zonggulou follows its own distinct architectural style unique to these regions. Although in both cases the general style follows Chinese accepted patterns, details of the buildings and structures refer to the Hui Islamic Culture prevalent in the Ningxia Region (and beyond).
In the case of the bell & drum tower, it has a wide and heavy brick base similar to those found in other bell towers and city walls of ancient China with enough room underneath for a gate or passage in all 4 directions. On the east side of the tower are two small red wooden gates which allow access to the building.
On top of the platform stand 4 red painted stone towers with in the center a much larger wooden two story decorated Tower. 2 wooden pavilions connect the stone towers to from a continiuum. The eaves of all roofs are highly curved and painted with a yellow-golden line. Roof tiles are grey except for the pointy triangular roof of the top of the tower which carries green ceramic tiles. All is enriched with delicate details.
Peculiar arhcitecture of the Zhonggulou - Bell & Drumtower in Yinchuan in morning light.
Although there are two doors which give access to the building, currently the Bell- and Drum-Tower is not open to the Public and can only be admired from the outside.
Although not much information is available on the history of the Yuhuang Pavilion it is known that the original structure was first built during the Ming Dynasty Era (1368 AD - 1644 AD). Many years later during the Rule of the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) however it was destroyed by the 1738 AD Pingluo-Yinchuan Earthquake (during reign of Emperor Gaozong which at the time levelled most of the Town and killed many inhabitants
Some years after that horrible event, what is now known as the Yuhuangge was reconstructed in the old site of Gulou (Drum Tower), in other words: where the Drum Tower which also had been destroyed had stood. The current Yuhuangge is thus built on the foundations of the Old Drum-tower. The function of the Drum-tower was then transferred to the nearby Bell-Tower, which since has been a Bell- and Drum-Tower.
As for the Yuhuangge. At the time of the ceremonies for its opening, a bronze statue of Jade Emperor was placed in it, hence the name Jade Emperor Pavilion. In addition, on the south side and in front of the pavilion, across the street (Jeifang Dongjie) there is a garden, called "Ning Yuan". meaning Jade Garden. The layout of the garden is ingeniously
Easy morning traffic passes by the Jade Emperor Pavilion on a summers day in August 2010.
and delicately wrought. That is, across from the Yuhuangge are grass, a fountain and a small Bell Pavilion with a large Bronze Bell in it. More in the direction of the Bell- and Drum-tower the park-garden transforms into a more traditional Chinese Garden with lacquered pavilions a large pond with fish and miniature rockeries. Meandering footpaths connect everything together. Various activities are ongoing throughout the day. One get an ice-cream, a snack, sit at the pond and enjoy the view, or, as some do throw out a fishing line.
One can go up to the Yuhuang Pavilion Platform and, for a small fee, have a browse around. There is a small exhibition of excavated relics found near the pavilion and a small puppet theatre on the first floor. One can also go up into the tower to get an even closer look at the architecture. Especially the decorative roof tiles and linings are worth a second look. While you are up there, take the chance to a great view of the surroundings and especially the jade garden.
In the evenings the Yuhuangge remains brightly lit but is closed to the public. At this time however it becomes the center of attention for local stage-art lovers or just people who are in for some public entertainment. Nearly every night during the summer months a large open-air stage, set
Crowds gathered for the nightly stage performance at the Jade Emperor Pavilion in August.
north of and behind the Yuhuangge becomes the scene of a public performance enjoyed -for free- by many. All sorts of modern Chinese stage-art pass by. There are comedies, Tang Dynasty Era styled stage performances, local variants of Peking Opera, simple modern dance and aerobics and more.
The Yinchuan Zhonggulou - Bell & Drumtower in evening illumination.
After completing your shopping spree, have a meal in 'Islamic Street' (see: Nanguan Mosque) and then head back north up to the Drum-tower and the Yuhuang Pavilion to enjoy their grandeur in romantic lights.
In the evenings both towers are brightly illuminated.
How to Get There: Yuhuang Pavilion and garden stand one block East of the Drum Tower on a street known as Jiefang Dongji. Depending on your location, walk, rent a bicyle or take a Taxi. The Long Distance Bus Station is some two blocks to the south but of no use in travel to the Towers.