Huashan Mountain

At a height of 2,160 meters above sea level and about 120km/3hours east of Xi'an, Huashan, literally translated as Flower Mountain, is a sight for sore eyes. The mountain has for centuries been deemed as one of China's five sacred mountains (Wu ye), along with Hengshan Mountain to the northeast, Songshan Mountain and Taishan Mountain to the east and another Hengshan Mountain to the southeast. Huashan, also known as the Western Mountain (Xi Yue) due to its geographical location in relation to the others, is famed as the most precipitous of the five.
Along the 12km path leading from the foot of the mountain, where it starts at the Jade Fountain Temple (Yuchuan si), to its five peaks, you will get the chance to see some impressive scenes, including the strangely shaped granite peaks and the twisted pines, that make up this, one of the lesser visited of the holy mountains.

The peaks from above are said to resemble the petals of a huge plant, with the middle peak as the corolla, hence the mountain's name. Of the five peaks it is the southern peak (2,100 meters) that is the largest, closely followed by those in the east and west. The ascent provides not only natural scenery, but also a number of man-made constructions that, for better or worse, are now a part of the mountain's tourist culture.

The route to conquer the peaks passes by temples, shrines, pavilions, terraces, carvings, statues, food stalls and hawkers, that appear interspersed between the stark granite paths and forested margins. Along the Green Dragon Ridge (Bilong ji), which connects the northern peak with the remaining peaks, the way is cut along a narrow rock ridge with steep cliffs on either side. Some of this route can be a little dangerous, despite the iron chains that are linked on the more precipitous sections.

As one of the five best-known mountains in China, Huashan Mountain is located to the south of Huayin City, 120 kilometers east of Xian, in Shaanxi Province, with an elevation of 2200 meters above sea level. In ancient times, Huashan Mountain was called Taihuashan Mountain. Seen from afar, the five peaks look like five petals of a flower. Hence its name, Huashan Mountain(= five flowers). Today, it is listed as one of the renowned national scenic spots.

Huashan Mountain is famous for its breath-taking cliffs. Along the 12-kilometer-long winding path up to the top are awe-inspiring precipices, looking into which will take your breath away. Among the five peaks, East Peak (Facing Sun Peak), West Peak (Lotus Peak) and South Peak (Dropping Goose Peak) are comparatively high. Standing at the top of East Peak, one can enjoy the rising sun early in the morning. West Peak, in resemblance to a lotus flower, is the most graceful peak in Huashan Mountain. In addition, there are Middle Peak (Jade Maiden Peak) and North Peak (Clouds Stand).

The middle peak got its name because of a story telling that once a young lady rode a white horse among the mountains. North Peak, like a flat platform in the clouds, is the place where the story Capturing Huashan Mountain Wisely took place.

Huashan Mountain boasts a lot of places of interest. Here and there stand Buddhist and Taoist temples, pavilions and buildings as well as sculptures and engravings. Of the ruins, Yuquan Temple (Jade Springs), Zhenwu Palace, and Jintian Palace are, comparatively speaking, famous. Xiyue Temple, seven kilometers north of Huashan Mountain is the place where people of ancient times paid tribute to the Mt. Huashan God. Along the cliff of South Peak is a planked path equipped with an iron chain, with the help of which, adventurers can walk on the frightful path.

There is a giant rock in front of Cuiyun Palace on West Peak. As it takes the shape of a lotus flower, the mountain is also called Lotus Peak. As legend has it, Chen Xiang, a filial young man, once split the mountain and rescued his mother out of it. Now a crack can be witnessed in a giant rock beside Cuiyun Palace as if an axe made it. Thus, the rock is called 'Axe-splitting Rock,' beside which is a huge axe with a long handle. The northwest side of the peak is called Fatal Cliff for it is as steep as if it was cut by a sharp sword.

North Peak, with cliffs on three sides, has only one road leading to the south. From here one goes south to Ca'er Precipice, the fourth most dangerous place along the only path in Huashan Mountain. The cliff path is less than 30 centimeters wide, and faces such a deep valley that the tourists have to edge along carefully. Then one comes to Sky-leading Ladder, Sun and Moon Precipice and the well-known Blue Dragon Mountain.

East Peak, with a rising-sun platform favorable for viewing the morning sun, is also called Facing Sun Peak. As the sun emerges from the sea of clouds, one cannot help but show great admiration. Every year one can take advantage of the best visiting times through May to October. At the foot of Huashan Mountain there are a variety of restaurants where comfortable accommodation is available. As well, one might be refreshed in the restaurants on Qingke Stand, South Peak and North Peak as well as in temples, big or small.

The area of Huashan Mountain specializes in gingko, thatch weaving and traditional paper-cutting. The shops are mostly at the foot of the mountain, where one can rent walking sticks, gym shoes, warm clothes, electric torches and so on.

Address: Huayin City, Shaanxi Province