The main shrine to Sichuan's ancient Shu Kingdom and the heroes that made it legendary during the Three Kingdoms period, Wuhou Temple (Wǔhóu Cí, 武侯祠) was first built to house Shu Emperor Liu Bei's remains in 221. During the Ming Dynasty, Liu Bei's subjects' remains were also housed here, most notably those of Zhuge Liang (Zhūgě Liàng, 诸葛亮).
Zhuge Liang (181–234 AD) lived during the Three Kingdoms period, when China's Han Dynasty was torn between competing kingdoms, and a fictionalized version of the strategist plays a major role in the famous late Ming Dynasty epic novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sānguó Yǎnyì, 三国演义). As Liu Bei's advisor during the wars of the Three Kingdoms period, he is a legendary figure in Sichuan and is, in some respects, venerated more than the esteemed emperor. The name of the temple comes from Zhuge Liang's posthumous title which means "Martial and Loyal Marquis."
In the wars that toppled the Ming Dynasty, the temple burned but was rebuilt between 1671 and 1672 during the subsequent Qing Dynasty. While the main shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Liu Bei, the back shrine is dedicated to Zhuge Liang. The "Sworn Brotherhood Shrine" commemorates Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu's "Oath in the Peach Garden," a fictional event chronicled in Romance of the Three Kingdoms when the three men vowed to defend the Han Dynasty from the Yellow Turban Rebellion and became "sworn brothers."
Nightly Sichuan Opera performances occur at the back of the temple from 8pm to 10pm. Tea and snacks are included in the RMB 180 entry price. The opera is spendy, but the fire-spewing, face-changing, flute and lyre playing ensemble might make you forget that. If that doesn't work, get a free massage from one of the elegantly dressed masseuses touring the audience area.
The temple offers English guides, priced according to group size. RMB 80 for under ten people, RMB 150 for 11 to 30 people and RMB 5 per person for groups over 30.
Mini bus fare to Du Fu's Thatched Cottage is included in admission. After the temple, explore the shops and restaurants of cobblestoned Jinli Street nearby.
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