Huashan Mountain is situated in Huayin City, 120 kilometers east from Xi'an City of Shaanxi Province. In ancient times, Mt. Huashan was called Mt. Taihuashan. From a distance the five peaks seem to form the shape of a 'flower' (hua in Chinese), hence the name 'Huashan'. It is famous for its natural vistas of steep and narrow paths, precipitous crags, and a high mountain range. It is home to several influential Taoist temples where emperors of past dynasties made pilgrimages, making Mt. Huashan the holy land of Taoism.Mt. Huashan is known as 'The Number One Precipitous Mountain under Heaven'. It is one of the five sacred mountains in China. The other four mountains are Mt. Taishan in Shandong, Mt. Hengshan in Hunan, Mt. Hengshan in Shanxi, and Mt. Songshan in Henan.
◎ What to see
Yuquan Yuan (Jade Spring Temple)
Usually tourists climb up the mountain assisted by the iron chains along the way and start their tour from Yuquan Yuan (Jade Spring Temple), one of the main Taoist temples in China located at the foot of Mt. Huashan. It has the architectural style of the classical gardens in south China. There is a pond in the center and several pavilions around it. Walking through the Wuyou Pavilion, the Long Corridor of Seventy-two Windows comes into view, and afterwards Qingke Ping where a big rock called 'Huixin Rock' can be seen. It is said that 'Huixin Rock' is a reminder for those who wish to stop their tour at this point. Beside the rock are the precipitous 370 rock steps called 'Qianchi Zhuang' considered to be the primary breath-taking path of Mt. Huashan. When climbing, only a gleam of sky above can be seen, making climbers feel as if they were at the bottom of a well.
North Peak (Cloud Terrace Peak)
Across the 'Qianchi Zhuang' are two similar precipitous paths-respectively called 'Baichi Xia' and 'Laojun Li' above which climbers reach Mt. Huashan's North Peak. There are precipitous cliffs on all sides of North Peak, making it look like a flat terrace in the clouds, hence the name Cloud Terrace Peak. It is 1,614 meters (about 5,295 feet) high. Three sides are cliffs and one side is to the 'Ca'er (the ear rubbing the cliff) Cliff' which is the fourth precipitous path where tourists can climb up only by pressing an ear close to the cliff. In the waist of North Peak trees are luxuriantly green, creating a good rest spot.
Jinsuo Guan (Gold Lock Pass)
When climbing over the 'Blue Dragon Range', regarded as the must-pass way to the other four peaks from North Peak, travelers arrive at Gold Lock Pass. Mt. Huashan visitors know that it is customary to buy a golden lock, and then lock it in the iron chains on both sides of the Gold Lock Pass for families and friends to pray for their safety and health. It is a marvelous spectacle to see thousands of golden locks in the iron chains. Within the mountain gate of Gold Lock Pass, a huge golden lock of about 4 meters (about 4.37 yards) long and 1 .5 meters (about 1.64 yards) high stands in a big rock. It is made of pure copper and forged by 9,999 locks left by visitors. It is a popular photo site. This huge lock can only be opened by throwing coins - one coin represent the status of an ordinary person; three coins, a blessed person and nine coins a most blessed one. Gold Lock Pass is the throat to Middle Peak, East Peak, South Peak and West Peak.
Middle Peak (Jade Maiden Peak)
Middle Peak clings to East peak and is in the center of East, South and West Peaks. There is a Taoist temple in the peak named 'Jade Maiden Temple'. Legend has it that the daughter of Qin Mugong (569 B.C.-621 B.C.) loved a man who was good at playing Chinese tung-hsiao (vertical flute) and she gave up the royal life to become a hermit who cultivated her spirituality here, hence the name Jade Maiden Peak. Today Jade Maiden Temple and Jade Maiden Basin for Shampooing can be found on the peak.
Other scenic spots in Middle Peak include Rootless Tree and Sacrificing Tree which have beautiful stories and add to the supernatural atmosphere of Middle Peak.
East Peak (Facing Sun Peak)
Tour guides may promote climbing the mountain at night to see the sunrise. Climbing to the top of East Peak requires 4 to 6 hours. East Peak has an altitude of 2,090 meters (about 6,857 feet) forming a platform for visitors to view the sunrise. An astronomical telescope is provided here. The reference time for sunrise and sunset is 5:00a.m.-6:00a.m. in spring, 4:30a.m.-5:20a.m. in summer, 5:00a.m.-5:20a.m. in autumn, 5:30a.m.-6:00a.m. in winter.
One well-known scenic spot called the 'Immortal's Palm Peak of Mt. Huashan' which is ranked as one of the 'Eight Scenic Wonders of the Guanzhong Area (the plain area in the middle of Shaanxi Province)' is located on East Peak. It refers to the natural rock veins of the cliff which look like a giant palm-print. Legend has it that on March 3rd of the Lunar Calendar a torrential flood erupted, destroying the villages within the Mt. Huashan area. This disaster was caused by the Queen Mother of the West, who held her 'Flat Peach Carnival' celebration that year. She carelessly spilled a little jade wine down from paradise, causing a serious flood below. This news was quickly reported by Deity Shaohao to the Jade Emperor in Celestial Paradise. He gave a prompt order to Deity Juling to go down to tame the flood. When Deity Juling, full of vigor and vitality, descended from the clouds, he arrived at the precipitous cliff of East Peak. At the moment that he laid his left hand on one side and his right leg on the other, he ripped the mountain into two halves and immediately a flood rushed out. This tale adds luster to East Peak.
South Peak (Landing Wild Geese Peak)
Ancient people called South Peak with an altitude of 2,160 meters (about 7,087 feet) 'Monarch of Mt. Huashan' because it is the highest peak of Mt. Huashan and also the highest peak among the Five Sacred Mountains of China. Tourists who summit South Peak are undoubtedly winners. Looking around when standing at the peak, surrounding mountains are luxuriantly green; the Yellow River wanders far below and everything seems small. Legend has it that the wild geese returning from the south often landed at South Peak, giving the area the name 'Landing Wild Geese Peak'.
At the top of South Peak, the Black Dragon Pool at the summit and the Greeting Pines on the southwestern cliff are two attractive resorts. At each side of the Landing Wild Goose Peak there are two peaks respectively called Songhui Peak (Pine and Juniper Peak) in the east and Xiaozi Peak (Filial Son Peak) in the west. The three peaks form a picture of a Titan sitting in a chair. The most dangerous place is called 'Changkong Zhandao' (a plank path built along the surface of a vertical cliff) which is about 4 meters (about 13 feet) long and about 0.33 meters (about 1.1 feet) wide. Below is the bottomless gulf which makes tourists shake with fear. In addition, there is a Taoist temple called Baidi Temple or Jintian Palace to be considered the host temple of Deity Shaohao.
West Peak (Lotus Flower Peak)
West Peak has very high cliffs standing erect with an altitude of 2,086.6 meters (about 6,845 feet). There is a Taoist temple called Cuiyun Palace before which a huge rock looking like a lotus flower comes into view, hence the name Lotus Flower Peak. There are another seven rocks beside Cuiyun Palace, which is said to be the place where Chenxiang (a main character in the movie Lotus Lantern) ripped the mountain to save his mother (The Heavenly Goddess San Sheng Mu). After visiting the five peaks, tourists can go down the mountain from the path on the east side of West Peak.
A must-see scenic spot - Xi Yue Temple - is available to those interested in Taoist culture. The Xi Yue Temple is 5 kilometers (about 3.1 miles) north of the foot of Mt. Huashan and it is one of the earliest temples in ancient China. Palaces and gardens are its main features, resembling the style of the Forbidden City in Beijing; thus the Xi Yue Temple gained fame as the 'Forbidden City of Shaanxi Province'.
◎ How to get there
By Bus: Tourist Buses No.1 (8:00-20:00 except the period from January to March 15th) are available at the east square of Xian Railway Station or you can choose to take the coach to Huayin City at Tangdu Bus Station located at No.17 of Changle Zhonglu east of Xian.
By Train: You can take trains at Xian Railway Station and get to Weinan City. Then you can take the autobus on Weinan Railway Station to reach Mt. Huashan. The autobus fare is about CNY 10. And you have to walk 1.5 kilometers (about 0.9 miles) before you reach Yuquan Temple at the foot of Mt. Huashan.
By Cable Car : Traveling on Mt. Huashan by cable car is another good choice for tourists. In the east side of Yuquan Temple there is an about 8-kilometer-long (about 5 miles long) cement road leading up to Wamiaogou where you can take the cable car directly to the North Peak of Mt. Huashan. And the top station of the ropeway is located on the east cliff of North Peak. The whole ropeway is more than 1,500 meters (about 4,921 feet) long and it takes you seven or eight minutes to reach the top. The runtime of the ropeway is: 07:00-19:00 (Apr.-Oct.); 09:00 - 16:00 (Nov.-Mar.).
◎ Travel Tips
Before climbing Mt. Huashan, you should know the following:
1. Wear sport shoes with soft soles; buy a pair of nylon gloves and a walking stick when necessary.
2. Eat high-calorie food and bring some with you when climbing.
3. Bring mineral water with you. Do not drink too much when thirsty; just sip it to keep your mouth wet.
4. It is windy in the mountain and especially humid in summer, so prepare some warm clothes (even in summer).
5. Sometimes it rains on the mountain, so take along a plastic raincoat.
6. Bring an electric torch when climbing at night.
While all necessary supplies can be bought at the foot of mountain, it is a better choice to prepare them yourself before coming to the mountain.