Dali ancient town, a historically and culturally famous city of China, is renowned for her historical interest. During the Tang and Song Dynasties, it was the capital of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms, the political, economic and cultural centre of Yunnan, an important gateway of cultural exchange and trading with southeastern Asian countries, and an important pass of the ancient "Silk Route of the South". It has long enjoyed the reputation of "a land of letters".
Dali City stands against Cangshan Mountain in the west and adjoins Erhai Lake in the east, and is embraced by undulating hills around. The elevation of the city proper is 1,974 metres. Dali is a highland city in low latitudes and its climate is of subtropical highland monsoon type. The weather is temperate, the annual mean temperature being 15 C and rainfall 1,078 mm. The monsoon season falls on June through October, and there is no marked seasonal changes in a year. Abundant sunshine makes the weather warm, but the wind is very strong, so Xiaguan of Dali is known as "A City of Wind."
As "a land of letters", Dali was the cradle of the Bai culture. In the long history of the past, the ancestors of the Bais and the Yis had created the brilliant Erhai Culture and left numerous illuminating historical and cultural relics. Within the boundaries of Dali, there are many ancient pagodas, steles, places of historical interest and frescoes. The ancient Dali City is still standing there elegantly and toweringly. The most outstanding places of interest in Dali are: the ancient city proper of Dali, the Three Pagodas on the ruins of Chongshengsi Monastery, Nanzhao Stele, the Tablet Commemorating Kublai khan's Conquest of Yunnan, the remains of Taihe City, the Tomb of Du Wenxiu, the scroll of pictorial history of Nanzhao (Tang Dynasty), Pictures on Buddhist themes Painted by Zhang Shengwan of Dali (Song Dynasty), and the Frescoes in Xingjiaosi Temple of Shaxi (Ming Dynasty). All these are the witnesses of the brilliant history of this ancient city