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China – Huang Shan

Huang Shan

Mount Huang, also known as Huangshan (Chinese: 黄山; pinyin: Huángshān; literally “Yellow Mountain”), is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, Huangshan Pine trees, and views of the clouds from above. Mount Huang is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China’s major tourist destinations.

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Mount Huang was formed approximately 100 million years ago and gained its unique rock formations in the Quaternary Glaciation.

During the Qin Dynasty, Mount Huang was known as Yishan (Mount Yi). In 747 AD, its name was changed to Huangshan (Mount Huang) by imperial decree; the name is commonly thought to have been coined in honor of Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), a legendary Chinese emperor and the mythological ancestor of the Han Chinese; one legend states that Mount Huang was the location from which the Yellow Emperor ascended to Heaven. Another legend states that the Yellow Emperor “cultivated moral character and refined pills of immortality in the mountains, and in so doing gave the mountains his name.

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The first use of this name “Mount Huang” is often attributed to Chinese poet Li Bai. Mount Huang was fairly inaccessible and little-known in ancient times, but its change of name in 747 AD seems to have brought the area more attention; from then on, the area was visited frequently and many temples were built there.

Mount Huang is known for its stone steps carved into the side of the mountain, of which there may be more than 60,000 throughout the area. The date at which work on the steps began is unknown, but they have been said to be over 1,500 years old.

Over the years, many scenic spots and physical features on the mountain have been named;many of the names have narratives behind them. For example, one legend tells of a man who did not believe the tales of Mount Huang’s beauty and went to the mountains to see for himself; he was almost immediately convinced. One of the peaks he supposedly visited was named Shixin (视信), roughly meaning “believing after seeing.”

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In 1982, Mount Huang was declared a “site of scenic beauty and historic interest” by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 for its scenery and for its role as a habitat for rare and threatened species. The nearby villages of Hongcun and Xidi were also named part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

In 2002, Mount Huang was named the “sister mountain” of Jungfrau in the Swiss Alps.

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The Huashan Grottoes

The legends have it that these are the caves Huang Di meditated in. The Huashan Mysterious Grottoes is located in eastern suburbs of Tunxi, very close to the famous World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the World Geological Park– Mount Huangshan, 280 kilometers to the west of Shanghai. On May 20th, 2001, President Jiang Zemin personally inspected the Grottoes Scenic Area. He praised the scenic area for its marvelous and exquisite wonder and delightedly named the scenic area “The Huashan Mysterious Grottoes” with his own handwriting.

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The Huashan Mysterious Grottoes lies in the green hills along the Xin’an River, scattered in the 7-square-km area are 36 grottoes (discovered up to now) with different sizes and scales. With grand scale, densely distribution and distinct feature as a unique wonder in China, the Huashan Mysterious Grottoes is praised as “the Ninth Great Wonder of the World ” at 30°north latitude.

The Huashan Mysterious Grottoes are different from other famous caves at home and abroad. It is not natural limestone caves, but ancient man-made underground palaces. In Sept. 2000 after exploitation, Grotto No. 2 and Grotto No.35 were the first to open to the public.

Grotto No.2 is a two-storied grotto with the total area of 4800 square meters and depth of 146 meters, the temperature inside is 15°C all the year round. The corridor on the second floor is broad and quiet , environment dry and clear. You can see some unearthed relics displayed inside the grotto such as footprint fossils of dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era, fossils of trees 150 million years old; tools of quarry such as iron drill rods and chisels, various household utensils such as painted pottery, earthenware jar, and chinaware etc. The more breath taking thing is that on the walls inside the grotto you may see clearly some patterns just like natural landscape paintings of the Ancient Huizhou.

When you enter Grotto No. 35, you may feel as if you step into an underground palace. One cave inside another, small ones above big ones; the depth of the grotto is 170 meters, the height 25 meters and the total area more than 12,000 square meters. With 26 huge stone pillars holding up the roof, surrounding the main hall are 36 stone rooms, a stone bridge, an underground river and water ponds etc. Chisel marks can still be seen clearly on the walls of the grotto. After a hundred- meter leading the way , you can see the ceiling of the grotto inclines abruptly 45 degrees, extending 30 meters or more, the slope happens to mysteriously tally with the slope of the outside hillside, which wins everybody’s admiration for the wisdom of the ancient people.

The archeologists have reached a final conclusion o the purpose of these grottoes or the time when they were cut. Most agree that the construction started in the Jin Dynasty or the Warring States Period (475- 221 B.C.) Some hold that they were used as grain depots during the Han Dynast (206 B.C – A.D.220); some think that they were the arsenals of King Gou Jian of the State of Yue in the late Warring States Period. Others think that they were simply stone quarries.


Huangshan hot springs

One of the four wonders of Mt. Huangshan, the hot spring, possessing 38 open air pools with different functions, was reopened to welcome tourists on Dec.27 after two years of reconstruction.

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