The Ming mountain side is covered with a complex of shrines and temples that are dedicate to the afterlife. The complex, known as the Fengdu Ghost City, is located in Fengdu County, China, and one of my top 10 places to visit before I die. The city focuses on the afterlife rituals of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, and its history dates back to almost 2000 years.
The layout of the complex is designed after the concept of Youdu, a capital of Hell in Chinese mythology and Buddhism.
There are three tests in Chinese beliefs in which the dead must pass in order to move on to the next life. These tests are for judgement to determine if the departed soul is good or evil.
The soul must first cross the “Bridge of Helplessness”. The bridge is said to connect this current plane of life to the netherworld. There are three stone arches that stretch over a small square pond. The middle bridge is the one used to judge a soul. Each soul is tested based on his or her age, gender, and marital status. Good souls pass over the bridge with ease, while an evil soul is stopped by the demons that control the bridge and pushed into the water below. If you should visits the “Bridge of Helplessness” as a living human, you are encouraged to walk over the side bridges, called respectively the Gold and Silver bridge. Walking over one of these two bridges is said to bring good luck.
The second test for a soul is the “Ghost Torturing Pass”. This is the location where all souls report to Yama, the King of Hell, for a second judgement on the merit of his or her soul. For the living, the Pass can be toured and sculptures can be seen which depict 18 ferocious demons. It could be possible that these demons are the ones that keep things in order around the Pass’ area.
The final test is on a large stone slab in front of the Tianzi Palace Gates. A soul is to stand on one leg for three minutes atop the stone. A good soul will be able to accomplish this with ease, while an evil one will not. After concluding the test, good souls will be allowed to pass on to the afterlife while the evil souls, the ones who failed, are sent to hell.
Out of all of the different attractions on the Ming mountainside, from the solemn gardens to the transition ritual locations to the multiple monasteries, the saddest and most haunting site is the “Last Glance at Home Tower”. The tower, which was erected in 1985, was built on a site where the hell-destined souls could stand on top of the mountain and take one last look at his or her family before moving on to damnation.
The Fengdu Ghost City is a location in this “Gateway to Hell’”series that would leave a lasting impression on any visitor – living or dead. It represents a place the where a soul’s merit is judged with three tests and his or her final destination is determined. The ongoing theme of the Ghost City is “Good will be rewarded with good, and evil with evil”.
There are too many pictures of the Ghost City to share within this post, so I will post my favorite below and direct you to this site where you can view more photos: http://www.lovethesepics.com/2011/04/freaky-fengdu-ghost-city-wtf-china-34-photos/