With Song Dynasty architecture, classic grounds and a compelling story of triumph, betrayal and redemption of an ancient hero, the Temple and Tomb of Yue Fei is one of Hangzhou’s most interesting tourist attractions.
Yue Fei was the son of a poor farmer born in present day Henan in 1103. Yue Fei later became the leading general of the Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and distinguished himself in battle against China’s northern enemies on many occasions. He was responsible for almost defeating the Jurchen, a tribal group who had invaded northern China and established the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234).
Yue Fei’s success on the battlefield and his unwavering loyalty were to prove his downfall. A corrupt Chancellor Qin Hui advised the Song Emperor Gaozong to recall Yue Fei from the battlefield and make peace with the Jin. When Yue Fei returned, Qin Hui had him, his son and his subordinate Zhang Xian arrested under false charges.
After two months of torture at the hands of Qin Hui, Yue Fei still did not admit to false charges of treason. Fearing that he would soon have to release Yue Fei, Qin Hui followed a plan devised by his wife and had Yue Fei and his companions executed.
In 1163, 19 years after his death, the Emperor Gaozong exonerated General Yue Fei and had his body reburied in a tomb at what is now the Temple of Yue Fei. The actual temple buildings were not built until later in 1221. In 1513 iron statues of Qin Hui, his wife and two of his subordinates in kneeling position were made and placed facing Yue Fei’s tomb. The statues have been many times over the years with the most recent cast in 1979.
Since then the statues of the four traitors to China have endured centuries of being cursed, spat on and even urinated on. In the photos below the fence is to protect the statues from overly enthusiastic patriots and the sign above the statues in Chinese is asking people to be civilised and to not spit on the statues.
Yue Fei is now a national hero, a symbol of virtue and a model of loyalty in Chinese culture.
The actual temple itself has three parts, the main temple building to the east, the hallway and Yue Fei’s Tomb to the west and the Qi Zhong Temple are to the north west.
The main temple is used to worship Yue Fei and contains a seated statue of Yue Fei with sword in hand ready to defend his country. The eastern wing of the temple is dedicated to Yue Fei’s subordinate Zhang Xian and the western wing is dedicated to his other subordinate Niu Gao.
The temple entrance has an attractive courtyard facing the main temple and with an exit on the west leading to the hallway/corridor to Yue Fei’s tomb.
The tomb itself has a small open courtyard with the two mounds of Yue Fei’s tomb to the left and the four statues of the traitors facing the tomb.
North of the tomb is the Qi Zhong Temple and several charming ponds full of gold fish and at least one nasty looking turtle.
The temple is on the north side of West Lake and at the end of the Su Causeway so very easy to walk or bike to. You can also catch the number K7, 27 and 81 public buses and the number Y1, Y2 and Y3 tourist buses.
Tickets and Opening Times
Tickets are 25rmb each and the temple is open from 7:30am to 5:30pm.