Mount Hua

With the Yellow River to the north and Qinling Mountain Range at the back to the south, Mount Hua (also translated as Mount Huashan) stands in the south of Huayin County, 120 kilometers east of Xi'an, with an altitude of 2,200 meters. It is always known for its precipitousness.

There are five peaks of Mount Hua: the Morning Sun Peak, the Lotus Flower Peak, the Jade Lady Peak, the Wild Goose resting Peak and the Cloudy Terrace Peak. From a distance, these five peaks look like a lotus flower among the mountains, hence, the name of Mount Hua (Hua means flower in Chinese).

Mount Hua in Mist

As the saying goes "There has been only one road up Mount Hua since ancient times", this road runs for some 20 kilometers, around the five prominent peaks. This trail passes a number of perilous places: the Thousand-foot Precipice, the Hundred-foot Crevice, Laojun's Furrow (Laojun, the patriarch of Taoism), the Heavenward Ladder and the Blue Dragon Ridge. The Cliffside Road and the Sparrow Hawk's Cliff are a lot more dangerous. Upon reaching the top, visitors can enjoy the awesome grandeur of these peaks. The ancient buildings are one of the main attractions. The peaks and valleys are dotted with temples and pavilions, which are constantly clad in mist. Climbers feel as if they were making a tour of fairyland.

Yuquan Garden (Jade Spring Garden) is located at the entrance of the valley on the hillside north of Mount Hua. Inside the garden there is a cool, sweet spring; hence its name "Jade Spring Garden." The spring is said to come from an underground flow that runs from the Jade Well in the Zhenyue Temple.

The road, from the Jade Spring Garden to Qingke Terrace, is about ten kilometers in length. This zigzag road is flanked by steep cliffs and paved with stone slabs. Halfway up this winding road, you will feel exhausted and want to turn back before the actual climb begins. Here you can take a short break and look around Dongdao and Tongxian temples.

Summit of Mount Hua

The North Peak is also called the Cloudy Terrace Peak. As you continue your way from Qingke Terrace, you will soon pass a huge rock named "Turn Back", and you will find yourself at the bottom of the Thousand-foot Precipice. This precipice is cut into the face of a nearly perpendicular cliff. The steps there are only toeholds, and you will have to grasp iron chains for support. After the Hundred-foot Crevice, you ascend to Laojun's Furrow. It is also cut into the cliff. You will feel that the furrow must be ascending right up into the sky. Nearly 500 steps are hewn up from the bottom part of the furrow. Legend has it that Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism, once drove his ox to this place and ploughed the furrow in only one night. At the end of the furrow, he is said to have hung his plough. By and by you will finally reach the North Peak. It is the only access to the other four peaks. The North Peak has only one hill that leads to the south with three sides disconnected with anywhere, and it is fairly steep. Here again, you can see a few lonely temples.

The Canglong (Blue Dragon) Ridge was also known as Ni Ridge or Jia Ridge in ancient times. It is 1,500 meters long and only one meter wide. At the end of the ridge is Yishen Cliff, which is inscribed with five big Chinese characters: "Han Yu Threw Down Will." The story goes that Han Yu, a Tang Dynasty poet, once reached this spot. He was in such fear that he concluded that his end was at hand and threw down his last will on that very spot. Fortunately, he was rescued.

The Central Peak is called the Jade Lady Peak. Legend has it that Nong Yu, the daughter of King Mu of the Spring and Autumn Period, was so moved by the music which Xiao Shi, a hermit, played on a vertical bamboo flute, that she gave up living a happy and luxurious palace life, and together with Xiao Shi, flew here on the backs of a dragon and a phoenix and lived in seclusion. The Jade Lady's Cave, the Wash Basin, the Dressing Stone Table and the Phoenix Pavilion are what we can see there today. 

Mount Hua Plank Walk

The East Peak is also called the Morning Sun Peak. It is the best place from which to see the sunrise. On the side at one cliff there is the impression of a huge hand colored in a mixture of blue and brown. It is known as "God's Hand Print on Mount Hua." It is the first among the Eight Scenic Attractions in Central Shaanxi Plain. 

The South Peak (Wild Goose-resting Peak) is situated at an elevation of 2, 200 meters. It towers over all other peaks on the mountain. It is covered by pines and cypresses that provide deep shade, and extend for several miles. The top of the peak is a bare rock. Here there is no grass, and the wind always blows strongly. It can be reached only through crawling. This huge rock carries inscriptions carved by men of letters of various periods of time. The remnants of Lao Zi's Summit, the Immortality-pill-making Furnace and the Eight Diagrams Pit (eight combinations of three whole or broken lines formerly used in divination) can also be seen at the top.

Because of a huge lotus flower-shaped rock that stands in front of Cuiyun Temple (Jade Green Cloudy Terrace Temple) at the top, the West Peak is known as Lotus Flower Peak. Its sheer steepness best exemplifies the characteristics of Mount Hua. In accordance with the fairy tale "Lotus Lantern", West Peak is the place where Little Chen Xiang, son of Holy Mother III, split the mountain to rescue his mother. Close to Cuiyun Temple lies a huge rock which seems to have been split into two halves with an axe, hence its name "Rock Split with an Axe." Not far off stands a long-handled axe that is said to have been used by this filial son.

Thanks to the safety and protection measures already taken, Mount Hua is now becoming more accessible to visitors both local and foreign, with the aid of cable cars. 

Mt. Hua Hiking Trail - The World's Most Dangerous Hiking Trail

In the past, Mount Hua was regarded as a mountain of divinity and the Temple of Mount Hua, which lies seven kilometers north of it, served as a place for the emperors of different dynasties to hold sacrificial ceremonies for the God of Mount Hua. In 1988, this temple was categorized as national monument. Since then, it has become a favorable tourist attraction. 

The custom of building temples for the sacrifice to a mountain initiated in the times of Emperor Wu Di of the Western Han Dynasty. Mount Huashan used to be regarded as god by all the dynasties. Therefore, the Temple of Mount Hua became the place for the sacrifice to the God of Mount Hua after it was built in 134 BC. The Standards of the construction of the temple are so high that it looks like the Imperial Palace in Beijing, hence the name "Small Imperial Palace."

Mount Hua Cable Car

Since the Temple of Mount Hua used to be the sacrificial temple for the imperial families and a necessary stop for the inspection tours of emperors, the location of this temple was carefully chosen. It is located on a vast plain with the highest peak of Mount Hua in front and the Weihe River, the Yellow River and the Luohe River merged together at back. If anything unexpected happens, it is safe to retreat through either the land or the rivers.


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