Category: Huangshan.

About Mount Huangshan

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Mount Huangshan is located in the southern part of Anhui Province in eastern China. It is about 40 kilometers from north to south and 30 kilometers from east to west, and covers an area of about 1,200 square kilometers. The most valuable part of the mountain covers 154 square kilometers, and is called the “Wubaili Mount Huangshan.”

Huangshan is the mountain best renowned for its scenery in China and located in the subtropical monsoon climate zone, and due to its high peaks and deep valleys, the climate varies depending on altitude there. It features numerous imposing peaks (77 exceed an altitude of l,OOOm), whose formation dates back some 100 million years to the Mesozoic Era when the ancient Yangste Sea disappeared as a result of crustal movements and subsequent uplift.

U-shaped valleys, striations and boulders are evidence of later glaciation during the Quaternary Period. Forests of stone pillars are numerous; other features include grotesquely-shaped rocks (many of which are individually named), waterfalls, caves, lakes and hot springs. The vegetation comprises moist forest below l,lOOm, dedicuous forest from 1,lOOm to 1,80Om, and alpine grassland above the treeline. The flora is diverse 11,650 species), with one-third of China’s bryophyte (mosses and liverworts) families and over half of its pteridophyte (ferns) families represented. Endemics to Huangshan total 13 species of pteridophytes and 6 of higher plants. A number of rare and locally or nationally endemic species are threatened with extinction. The vertebrate fauna comprises 300 species and includes 170 of birds, 38 of reptiles, 20 of amphibians and 24 species of fish. A total of 13 species is under state protection, including clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa (V) and Oriental white stork Ciconia boyciana (E).

The Background of Mount Huangshan

Mount Huangshan was once greatly glorified in a period of literary and artistic prosperity (the mid-16th century when the natural scenery was most valued) in China’s history, and was known as the “the most spectacular mountain in China.” Nowadays, Mount Huangshan is famous for its majestic landscapes, especially the unique pines that grow on granite, and the bizarre stones that are partly hidden in the sea of clouds. For the tourists, poets, painters and photographers, who visit this scenic spot from all over the world, the charm of Mount Huangshan is never-ending.

Mount Huangshan was originally called Mount Yi because according to the legend, the first ancestor of the Chinese nation — the Yellow Emperor became a god on this mountain. On July 16, in 747th during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the name of the mountain was changed to its current name, and the day was also declared as the birthday of Mount Huangshan by the Emperor Xuanzong. Mount Huangshan is well known in the world for its majestic, beautiful, and fantastic landscapes, and it is also a national-level scenic area and a health and summer resort with abundant resources, an intact ecosystem, and has significant scientific and ecological value. It is a place with both wonderful natural and cultural landscapes.

On Mount Huangshan, there are a lot of towering peaks, including 36 large and 36 small peaks. Of them, the elevation of the Lotus Peak, the Tiandu Peak, and the Guangming Peak all exceed 1,800 meters.

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Mount Huangshan is outstanding for its ever changing sceneries in different seasons. The landscapes always change as the seasons change, and are different at different altitudes and different time of day.

In the early spring, there are colorful flowers that bloom like a piece of brocade. The red azalea flowers are all over the mountain and the pink peach blossoms can spread up to five kilometers.

In the midsummer, there is spring water on the ground, waterfalls off steep cliffs, emerald green peaks, countless green trees, and sweet-scented grass and flowers.

In the golden autumn, there are seemingly flaming maple trees and scattered beautiful mountain flowers.

In the winter, the mountain looks like a heavenly world with the land and trees covered by ice and snow.

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The unique granite forests of Mount Huangshan can be seen from every peak and valley. The Huangshan Pines of various shapes, the vivid, bizarre stones, and the mysterious seas of cloud is picturesque with both static and dynamic elements, and gives an artistic charm, inspiration, and grace to the mountain. The great explorer of the Ming Dynasty Xu Xiake once said, “I have seen many mountains in the world, but none of them can match Mount Huangshan. When I was standing on its peak, it felt like there were no other mountains in the world except for Mount Huangshan.” Based on Xu’s comment, a person of later generation made such a comment, “The people who have visited the Five Famous Mountains will lose the interest of visiting other mountains; but the people who have visited the Mount Huangshan will even lose the interest of visiting the Five Famous Mountains.”

On Mount Huangshan, there are over 1,450 plant species, over 470 animal species, and over 200 ancient temples, pavilions, and stone tablets in total.

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Cultural heritage value:

Huangshan’s renown goes back to 747 A.D. It was on 17 June of the sixth year of the Tang dynasty’s Tianbao period that the Emperor Xuanzong, known in Chinese literary history as much for his love of the beautiful Yang Guifei as for his belief in Taoism, decreed the mountain would be called Huangshan. Legends describing the discovery of the elixir of immortality in the sacred mountain acquired new significance. Huangshan was ever a magnet for hermits, poets and landscape artists fascinated by the magic of its peaks emerging through a sea of clouds.

By the end of the 13th century 64 temples had been erected on the mountain. In the 16th century, an event -unprecedented at that time- took place: Wang Shi-zhen presided over a group of more than one hundred men of letters on its slopes. During the Jiajing period of the Ming dynasty (mid-16th century) painters in the shanshui style (“Mountain and Water”) devoted themselves with fervour exclusively to admiring and reproducing its scenary. The Huangshan school boasted many famous painters, like Jian Jiang,Zha Shibiao, Mei Oing, Xugu, and Xue Zhuang-and Shi Tao, whose fame eclipsed that of all the others. In his essay Comments on the paintings of the monk Bitter Pumpkin, Shi Tao (1641-c.1720), who was as much poet as he was painter, speaks at great length of the special relationship that forms between man and nature in this unique place; it is in the mountain that the sixteen qualities of Heaven are endlessly revealed.

The long history of religious culture in Mount Huangshan

Mount Huangshan has a close connection with religion. In the ancient Taoist books of the Tang Dynasty, there are stories of the Yellow Emperor, Rongchengzi and Fuqiugong visiting the mountain to develop pills of immortality and try to become supernatural beings, and they finally made it, which have been handed down from generation to generation and influenced many people. Even today, there are some mountains that have been named after these stories, such as Xuanyuan Peak, Fuqiu peak, Liandan Peak, Xianren Peak, Shangsheng Peak, Xiandu Peak, Daoren Peak and Wangxian Peak. The name of Mount Huangshan is also connected with the story of the Yellow Emperor once cultivating his morality and developing pills of immortality here. Fuqiu Temple and Jiulong Temple are the earliest temples that Taoism established on Mount Huangshan. Zhang Yinfu, a Taoist from the late Song Dynasty, tried to become a supernatural being and founded the Songgu Taoist Temple. But after the late Ming Dynasty, there was no Taoism on Mount Huangshan.

According to the “Graphic Book of the Mount Huangshan,” Buddhism reached Mountain Huangshan in the Liu Song period of the Southern Dynasties and nearly 100 temples were built in the past dynasties. Among the temples, the Xiangfu Temple, Ciguang Temple, Cuiwei Temple and Zhibo Temple are known as the “four famous Buddhist monasteries.” Furthermore, there were many monks who were good at painting, for example, Dao Yun in the Tang Dynasty, Hai Neng, Hong Zhi, Yin Ke, Yuan Ze and Wang Yan in the Ming Dynasty, Da Jun, Da Han, Bo Yan, Jian Jiang and Xue Zhuang in the Qing Dynasty, whose works are handed down from generation to generation.

The excellent artworks in Mount Huangshan

The natural beauty of Mount Huangshan attracted a large number of poets, painters and other artists. They all marveled at the beauty and left a lot of works. More than 20,000 poems, which praised the beauty of Mount Huangshan over a period of about 1,200 years during the heyday of the Tang Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty, can be found today.

The content and literature style of art works on Mount Huangshan are abundant. These art works reflected and enriched the beauty from all aspects and are treasures of China’s literature. In terms of poems, famous writers, such as Li Bai, Jia Dao, Fan Chengda, Shi Tao, Gong Zizhen, Huang Yanpei, Dong Biwu, Guo Moruo and Lao She, left many works. And in terms of essays, Xu Xiake’s “Huangshan Travel Dairy,” Yuan Mu’s “Huangshan Travel,” Ye Shengtao’s “Three days in Mount Huangshan,” and Feng Zikai’s “Shang Tiandu” all reflect the beautiful scenery of Mount Huangshan.

In addition, there are many stories and legends about Mount Huangshan, for instance, “Huangdi makes pills of immortality,” “Drunken Li Bai,” “Fairy points the way” and “Fairy embroider flowers.” The Huangshan Painting School, which showed the beauty and tranquility of the Mount Huangshan in paintings, is an excellent branch of Mount Huangshan culture. The masters continued to enrich their works by carefully watching Mountain Huangshan, and formed a special position in the painting world with their concise articles, beautiful composition, self-contained and tragic style and deep will. Mount Huangshan cultivated many artists in the past ages and artists also give Mount Huangshan artistic life in return.

Natural heritage value:

Geological features

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Experiencing orogenesis and crustal uplift in an extremely long period of time, as well as the influence of glaciers and natural weathering, Mount Huangshan formed its unique peak forest structure. Mount Huangshan is known for “having 36 large-scale and 36 small-scale peaks” and its main peak, the Lotus Flower Peak, is 1,864 meters above sea level. The Lotus Flower Peak, the flat Bright Summit Peak and the precipitous Celestial Capital Peak are located in the heart of the Mount Huangshan scenic spot and surrounded by 77 peaks that are over 1,000 meters high. These overlapped peaks organically combined into a three-dimensional picture, looking rhythmic, magnificent and imposing.

The body of Mount Huangshan is mainly composed of granite from the period of the Yanshan Movement and has been developed into a vertical structure. It is strongly eroded and has crisscross cracks, and magnificent and beautiful granite caves and channels have been formed by long-term erosion from water. There are many ranges, canyons and dangerous places on the mountain, with a total of 30 ranges, 22 cliffs and two dangerous places. The rock mass on the front mountain has fewer joints and most are weathered into egg-shaped rocks, and the mountain body is very spectacular, while that of the back mountain has more joints and weathered into vertical rocks and the mountain body is very precipitous, forming unique geological features of “majestic front mountain and beautiful back mountain.”

Remains of glaciers

Mount Huangshan has abundant glacial remains from the quaternary glacial epoch, which are mainly divided in the southeastern part of the front mountain. The typical glacial landforms include the U-shaped Kuzhu River and the Xiaoyao River which were formed by the glacial movement, the Eyebrow Peak and Carp’s Backbone which have two V-shaped valleys and knife-shaped valleys formed by glacial scouring, the Tiandu Peak which is a horned peak formed by glacial scouring from three directions, the Baizhang Waterfall and Renzi Waterfall which are the hanging valleys merged by glacial valleys and its tributaries, glacial moraines formed by glacial movement and were distributed in the riverbeds between Xiaoyao River and some places including Tangkou, Wuniguan and Huangshidang, and the glacial mortars are the so-called the “Danjing” and “Yaojiu” where the legendary Emperor Xuanyuan made magic pills for immortality.

Rich in Fauna and Flora

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Culminating with Lianhua Peak (Lotus Flower) at l,873m, the mountain’s 72 granite peaks continue to entrance and fascinate. From Tangkou, visitors journey to the mountain in droves, attracted by the natural reserve’s magnificent flora (1,700 species of plants have been identified) and bird life (170 species). Poets and painters, and nowadays photographers, have also made pilgrimages to Huangshan, following age old paths which- like the “Stairway of one hundred steps suspended in the air” or “the back of the Giant Turtle”- wind from one lookout point to another in an unreal, constantly enchanting landscape.

Category: Huangshan