The predecessor of Huangshan City is Huizhou, known as Xin'an in ancient China. Located in southern Anhui Province, it is a newly-rising tourist city named after Mt. Huangshan.
Covering an area of 9,807 square kilometer, with a population of 1.45 million, Huangshan City is a holiday resort with beautiful landscape, many places of interest, and brilliant local culture. Huangshan City was also the cradle of one of China's 3 local academic schools, the school of Anhui studies.
Under the jurisdiction of Huangshan are the national scenic resorts Mt. Huangshan and Mt. Qiyun, the famous historical and cultural city Shexian, and 4 key cultural relics under state protection (Xu Guo's Stone Archway, dwelling houses at Qiankou, the group of archways in Tangyue and the temple dedicated to Luo Dongshu), and such scenic resorts as Xin'an River and Taiping Lake.
Located in the southern part of Anhui Province, Mt. Huangshan extends across 4 counties, Shexian, Yixian, Taiping and Xining. It was formed as a result of the movement of the earth's crust a hundred million years ago. Mt. Huangshan was known as Yishan in the ancient times since the peaks and rocks look dark green in the distance. In 747, Emperor Li Longji of the Tang dynasty believed that the Yellow Emperor Xuanyuan became an immortal here so he changed the name of the mountain to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain).
Mt. Huangshan is a marvel. Within an area of 154 square kilometer, there are 72 peaks, which have the names indicating the shapes they resemble. Lotus, Brightness Apex and Celestial Capital are the 3 major ones, all rising above 1,800 m. When it is cloudy, the pinnacles loom in mists as if they were illusionary. While the sun is shining, they unfold all their majesty and splendor.
Mt. Huangshan changes its color and appearance with seasons. In spring, blooming flowers decorate the slopes in a riot of color and fill the valleys with fragrance; in summer, you see verdurous peaks rising one upon another and hear springs gurgling merrily. Autumn dresses the peaks in red and purple, as maples are all blazing-red; winter turns them into a world of frost and ice with silver boughs and rocks everywhere. So Huangshan has long been a famous scenic area for those seeking the mystery and admiring the scenery.
The fantastic pines, the grotesque rocks, the sea of clouds and the hot springs are the 4 major attractions of Mt. Huangshan.
Huangshan is also a large botanical garden with over 1500 species of plants and trees. Here you'll find century-old pines, firs, Chinese torreya, Chinese sweet gums, camphor woods and the precious Magua trees, etc. Huangshan abounds in flowering plants; many of them are rare ones, such as the goddess flower and Huangshan azalea as well as camellia, plum, lily, crape myrtle, orchid, and so on. It has a rich store of medicinal herbs, more than 300 kinds found here. The notable ones are the glossy ganoderma ginseng, Chinese gold thread rhizome and Chinese cinnamon. Maofeng Tea of Mt. Huangshan is well known.
Mt. Huangshan also provides the natural habitat for a wide variety of animals. Among them are monkeys, goats and deer. There are rare birds such as the silver pheasant, octave-tone bird and oriole, all good singers.
Though looking fresh and young, Mt. Huangshan has a along history to which ancient books, poems and paintings as well as carved inscriptions all bear witness. Li Bai (701-762) was not the only poet who sang the praise, Tang poets Jia Dao (779-843) and Du Xunhe (846-897) also came here and wrote poems. In the succeeding dynasties people kept coming and giving expression to their admiration in poetry. Xu Xiake (1586-1641), the great geographer and traveler of the Ming dynasty, devoted 2 of his travel notes to Mt. Huangshan. Jian Jiang and Shi Tao (1642-1718), master painters of the Xin'an School in the Qing dynasty, left behind them many paintings. Inscriptions of the past generations meet one's eyes here and there: "Clouds in a myriad of forms", "Peaks piercing the sky", "A cool world", "Fantastic and beautiful", "Scenery of exceptional charm" to mention just a few of them. Such poetic phrases in handsome calligraphy are not only decorative, but also part of the fascinating scene.
In 1990, Mt. Huangshan went on both the world cultural and natural heritage lists.
Qiyunshan, meaning a mountain touching clouds in Chinese, is located in Xiuning County, 20 kilometer east of Huangshan City. Neighboring Mt. Huangshan, it is attractive and peculiar for its natural landscape and being thickly studded with deep sacred sense.
Mt. Qiyun is one of the 4 Taoist Mountains in China. It is 1,000 m above sea level, with 36 peaks, 72 steep cliffs, 16 caves, 24 canyons and spectacular natural views above crystal streams and waterfalls. Development of Taoism in Qiyunshan should date as far back as Tang dynasty and reached the summit in Ming dynasty, during which, a large architectural complex in typical Taoism style was built. Monasteries, palaces, pavilions, platforms, towers etc. dedicated to Taoism and scattered in every corner of the mountain, give rise to the Taoism mystique and sanctity.
Shexian County, an ancient cultural county under jurisdiction of Huangshan, is located at the southern foot of Mt. Huangshan, in the upper reaches of the Xin'an River, surrounded by mountains and streams.
Ever since Ming dynasty, Shexian has outgrown other areas in Southeast China in economic and cultural development, making it the birthplace of the unique Huizhou Culture, which is represented by the Xin'an painting, Huizhou architecture, and Xin'an medicine. The influence of the Huizhou Culture and the prosperity of the area have earned Shexian County the title of "Southwest Zou-Lu". Zou-Lu is the hometown of Confucius and Mencius, meaning that Shexian is the home of art and culture in the southwestern China. Indeed, Shexian County has produced many artists, philosophers and men of letters, great educator Tao Xingzhi and master painter Huang Binhong are just 2 examples.
Shexian County has many well-preserved courtyards, gardens, pagodas and bridges, most of these were built during Ming and Qing Dynasties and some were constructed as early as Song dynasty. These historical sites are described as "gems of ancient Chinese architecture". In particular, the elegantly constructed ancient residential houses, ancestral temples and memorial archways are unique in China. Experts refer to them as "the 3 wonders of ancient architecture". The most famous ones are: Tangyue Archways, Xuguo Archway, Doushan Street and Yuliang Dam.
Maihuayu Village, located on the south bank of the Xin'an River, is known as the home of Huizhou potted horticulture. Most villagers here are expert gardeners specializing in raising pretty bonsai. That is why Shexian is regarded as one of the places where the art of miniature landscape originated.
Shexian also produces excellent inkslabs. The art of inkstone making has been famous for over 800 years. 'The She Inkslab' is among the best in China.
Shexian has 2 nicknames: "Hometown of Archways" for the thousands of arches scattered in the county and "Hometown of Tea" for the production of high quality tea in large quantity. In fact, Shexian County is a perfect place to examine the culture of ancient China's feudal society.
As a deep water lake, Taiping Lake (Peace Lake) is situated between Mt. Huangshan and Mt. Jiuhua. It extends 80 kilometer from east to west, which is roughly the same distance down the Li River from Guilin to Yangsuo, and covers an area of about 100 square kilometer. In addition to tour yachts, one can also take a black awning boat, a fishing boat or even a bamboo raft to enjoy the lake scene. The lake is clear and tranquil all the year round.
The famous Peach Blossom Pool is located at the Wan Village on the lakeside. The famous Tang dynasty poet Li Bai once toured the lake and wrote a poem in appreciation of the hospitality of Wang Lun, his host (the poem is well recited today). Later, the villagers built a pavilion in memory of the great poet, which still stands. One scene in the TV series of the classical Chinese novel, the Dream of the Red Mansion, was shot here at the lakeside.
Vast as the lake is, scenic spots still abound, such as the group of isles in the lake known as the 18 Immortals on Jiaoshan Hill near the lake.
Tourist facilities such as holiday resorts, amusement ground, shops and swimming pools are open to public, especially to holiday seekers. And there is nothing more relaxing than drifting in a raft or boat or going angling on the lake.
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