Situated south of the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, is Qingcheng Mountain (also referred to as Mount Qingcheng). This extraordinary mountain is regarded as one of the most important Taoist centres in China, and is considered the birthplace of Taoism. Dominating the Chengdu Plains, the renowned Qingcheng Mountain was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. With a rich history spanning almost two thousand years, tremendous cultural significance, Qingcheng is an incredible must-see attraction.
- Qingcheng Mountain is actually a mountain range containing 36 different, the tallest being 1,260 m above sea level.
- Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, Qingcheng was also declared a National Scenic Area.
- Qingcheng is divided into two sections – “Front Mountain” and “Back Mountain”.
- Front Mountain covers roughly 15 square kilometers (3706 acres), with numerous historical and cultural sites. Back Mountain contains some historical sites and temples, but is mainly a stunning nature reserve.
History Of Qingcheng Mountain
Qingcheng Mountain possesses a rich history that spans nearly 2000 years. In 142 CE, during the reign of Emperor Shun of Han, renowned Chinese philosopher, Zhang Ling visited and preached on Qingcheng. He was drawn by the breathtaking natural beauty of the area, and subsequently, founded the doctrine of Chinese Taoism. Zhang Ling believed the tranquil natural scenery of Mount Qingcheng was perfect for the development of Taoism. Thus, it is considered one of the cradles of the religion. As a result, eleven important Taoist temples were constructed on the mountain during the Jin and Tang dynasties.
Located near the top of Qingcheng Mountain, is Shangqinggong Temple. First constructed during the Jin dynasty (265 AD to 420 AD), it is considered one of the most famous Taoist temples in China. The existing temple was rebuilt in the Qing dynasty, during the reign of TongzhiEmperor (1856 to 1875).
First built during the Tang dynasty in 730 AD, Jianfu Palace (formerly the Zhangren Temple) is one of the oldest sites on Qingcheng. The palace was restored several times throughout the centuries. The existing structure was rebuilt in 1888 AD, during the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing dynasty. The palace complex has long been an attraction on Qingcheng Mountain. A famous 394-character couplet was written about Jianfu during the Qing dynasty, which is inscribed on a pillar in one of the halls.. The palace consists of two temples and three courtyards in total.
On May 12, 2008, Sichuan experienced an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, which affected Qingcheng Mountain. Some of the Taoist temples and shrines were damaged in varying degrees. However, with the assistance of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the Macao Foundation, and the Shanghai Municipal Government, these ancient structures were successfully repaired to their former glory.
Culture Of Qingcheng Mountain
Because of its place in Chinese history, Qingcheng Mountain has tremendous cultural significance. Considered a cradle of Taoism, since the 17th century, it has been a major spiritual and intellectual centre of the religion. Eleven prominent temples are located on the mountain including the Fulong Temple, the Erwang Temple, the Changdao Temple (also known as Tianshi Celestial Cave). There are also numerous other structures located throughout, including Yuanyun Pavilion and Laojun Pavilion.
Changdao Temple (Tianshi Celestial Cave) is one of the major temples on Qingcheng. First constructed during the Sui dynasty (518 AD to 619 AD), according to legend, this is the location where Zhang Ling preached his doctrines. Within the temple, is a statue of Zhang Ling, which is worshiped as a Taoist relic. A beautiful thousand-year-old ginkgo tree believed to have been planted by Zhang, is also situated in the temple.
The “Back Mountain” section of Qingcheng is about 15 km from “Front Mountain”. Although there area few temples and historical sites, this area is principally a nature reserve. Back Mountain offers stunning natural scenery with lush forests and tranquil streams. It is a wonderful recreational area for hiking. Two cable-cars are also available in this section, offering incredible vistas of the valley and forest below. The Back Mountain scenic spot starts from Tai’an Ancient Town, with most of the sites located in Wulong Valley and Feiquan Valley. For those wanting a quiet change of pace, Back Mountain is definitely a good choice.
- It is recommended to allot at least half a day to fully explore Qingcheng Mountain.
- From March 2 to November, Qingcheng is open from 8 AM to 5 PM. From December to March 1, it is open from 8 AM to 6 PM.
- All four seasons offer spectacular natural scenery on Qingcheng Mountain. During the summer because of the altitude, Qingcheng is a comfortable temperature. Springtime is warm, autumn offers incredible colours from the changing of the leaves, and the winter vistas are sensational.