Mt. Qingcheng, situated southwest of Dujiangyan City,
is 63 kilometers from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuau
2. Status and Reputation
~ It was designated as one of China's first group of
China National Key Tourist Resorts in 1982.
~ It was inscribed on the List of World Cultural lteritage
by UNESCO in 2000.
~ It is a famous summer resort known as the "most
secluded mountain under the heaven."
~ It is one of the famous mountains where Taoism originated
Mt. Qingcheng boasts beautiful peaks with dense greenery
everywhere in every season. It is a well-known summer
scenic area which enjoys popularity as the "most
secluded mountain under the heaven". It is one
of tile places where Taoism, the only tehgion native
to China, originated. As a famous Taoist mountain, it
has some 70 Taoist temples and 38 Taoist remains. Mt.
Qingcheng is of great natural and cultural value.
Mt. Qingcheng is situated 63 kilometers west of Chengdu.
Characterized by its secluded and quiet environment,
the scenic area
is surrounded by ring-shaped peaks. It enjoys equal
fame for steepness with Jianmen , for elegance with
Mt. Emei and for
grandeur with Kuimen- It has been widely acclaimed as
the "most secluded mountain under the heaven".
In Chinese Qingcheng
lite,-ally means "green city". Mt. Qingcheng
gets its name because the main scenic spots such as
the Tianshi Cave are all
surrounded by 36 mountain peaks with their forests of
lush evergreen trees encircling each spot like a city
The ring-shaped hills, cool, trtmquil and secluded,
covered with luxuriant vegetation, make Mt. Qingcheng,
in the western part of
Sichuan Province, a famous scenic spot and summer resort.
As a place where Taoism originated and an important
base of Taoism
development, it has been a famous Taoist mountain for
abnost 2000 years. In 1982, it was ratified as one of
first group of China National Key Tourist Resorts by
the State Council. In 2000, together with the Dujinggyan
Irrigation Project, it was inscribed on the List of
World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Mt. Qingching is
unique for its secluded environment and for its Taoist
significance. Mt. Qingcheng is popular all over the
world for its "You". Frankly speaking, it
is hard to define this Chinese word because there
is no direct English equivalent. In Chinese, "You"
has a host of various meanings such as the serenity,
leisure and seclusion. "You"
,,n Mt. Qingcheng is vividly reflected in its serene
paths, secluded woods, quietly flowing streams, pavilions
made of tree barks, the
Fragrance of burning incenses from temples and Taoist
culture. You eould feel the elegant ambience of the
unique "You" on the way to the mountain. However,
it would be helpful if you could understand the essentials
of Taoism before you visit the Taois! sanctuary.
Taoism was the only indigenous religion in China. It
was founded by Zhang Daoling in the Hah Dynasty. Lao
Zi (~ff;)was its respected
founding master and Dao De .ling ( The Classic of the
Way and Its Power, are its doctrines. What is the "Dao"?
Dao, in Dao
De Jing, means the way of ultimate reality, that which
exists beyond the physical sense of mankind. Tao is
the natural way of the universe, the driving force in
nature, the order behind all life and the power behind
all living things. That is why Taoists worship all life
in the universe and everything created by nature. Taoists
advocate Wuwei (non-action,) and callion people not
to compete with nature, but to conform with it instead.
The concept of Wuwei does not mean to do nothing as
it literally suggests. It means to follow the law of
nature and let everything be what it naturally will
be. Taoism claims that Yin and Yang are negative and
positive principles of tile universe. One cannot exist
without the other. This belief is very similar to the
theory of Yin and Yang in Chinese Wushu and
traditional Chinese medicine. Taoism also claims that
people can be immortal. The Outer alchemists believed
in herbal medicine and
pharmacology. The Inner alchemists believed in the alchemy
inside their bodies, the energy called Qi . As a result,
science and Taoism developed and helped each other all
the way. Like many other religions in the world, Taoism
The highest Taoist gods are San Qing (the Taoist trinity,-
The three gods are respectively worshiped as Yu Qing
(Jade Purity ),
Shaug Qing (Lofty Purity, ) and Tai Qing ( Absolute
Purity,). Under San Qing, the trinity gods, there are
Emperors. The most respected is Yu Huang (the Jade Emperor)
who governs the other deities. Next there are fourr
numina guarding the east, the west, the south and the
north respectively. Among them, the northern numen,
called Zhenwu (Genuine Prowess,),colloquially Zhenwu
Dadi, is more respected than the other gods. He is believed
to be the eighty-second reincarnation of Taishang Laojun
(Lord the Most High), another title for Lao Zi .There
are also other heavenly immortals, such as the famous
(Eight Immortals) and San Guan (Three Officials). The
Taoist deity system is complicated, but comprehensible,
based on rank and Taoist doctrines. After listening
to my brief introduction of Taoism, hopefully you will
understand the Taoist culture and appreciate the landscape
a little better. Now, here we are at the foot of Mt.
Qingcheng. Can you feel the green woods behind the front
gate bringing you a feeling of seclusion, luring you
away from the hustle and bustle of the world? Maybe
you can hardly wait to climb the mountain right now.
However, Jianfu Temple is a scenic spot not far from
us. So we shah visit it first, and climb the mountain
Jianfu Temple at the foot of Zhangren Peak was first
named Zhangren Temple. It was built in 730 and reconstructed
1888 during the Qing Dynasty. Near Jianfu Temple is
a scenic spot with ancient buildings and green trees
as perfect as a picture. The
place is referred to as a "Natural Picture"
because people who come here feel as if they are unconsciously
merging into the beautiful
surrounding landscape. The three Chinese characters
(Jianfu Temple) were written by Lin Sen in 1940. He
was a famous
calligrapher and one of the founders of Kuomintang as
well. The front hall is the Zhangsheng Hall (Longevity
Hall), where Fan Changsheng , a Taoist saint, is enshrined.
The statues of Ning Feng and Du Guangting are enshrined
in the main
hall. A legend has it that Ning Feng comprehended Dao
through practice on Mt. Qingcheng. He taught Hung Di
Emperor) how to fly; the latter defeated Chiyou , his
opponent and finally unified China. There are three
statues in the back hall.
The one sitting in the middle is Taishang Laojun, the
founder of Taoism. To his left is Donghua Dijun ( Royal
Iord of the East,
a god who was given such a highly privileged title because
he (Lord the Most High), another title for Lao Zi .
There are also other heavenly immortals, such as the
famous Ba Xian (Eight Immortals) and San Guan (Three
Officials). The Taoist deity system is complicated,
but comprehensible, based on rank and Taoist doctrines.
After listening to my brief introduction of Taoism,
hopefully you will understand the Taoist culture and
appreciate the landscape a little better. Now, here
we are at the foot of Mt. Qingcheng. Can you feel the
green woods behind the front gate bringing you a feeling
of seclusion, luring you away from the hustle and bustle
of the world? Maybe you can hardly wait to climb the
mountain right now.
However, Jianfu Temple is a scenic spot not far from
us. So we shah visit it first, and climb the mountain
was personified much earlier than all other gods. To
his right is Wang
Changyang, the founder of Quanzhen Sect of Taoism. From
the lgth century on Taoism developed into two main
sects: Quanzhen Dao, emphasizing self-cultivation toattain
and Zhengyi Dao, involving belief in charms and spells.
After you enter the mountain gate, turn right to head
Yuecheng Lake , where you can reach the mountain top
by cable. On the winding path round the mountain, the
first two pavilions
you see are Yu Ting (the Rain Pavilion,) and Cuiguang
Pavilion (Green-Light Pavilion, ). Walking through the
woods, you will
see plenty of pavilions, bridges and memorial archways
on both sides 0f the paths, which create a beautiful
scene with the background of green woods and hills.
The pavilions, decorated with dry branches and vines,
are usually constructed with dry trees as pillars, tree
bark as roofs, tree roots as benches. The pavilions
are shaped differently in accordance with the surroundings.
For example, a
triangle pavilion at the turn of a road is named Yilewo
( Happy Nest, ); a square pavilion on the cliff is called
Lingranting ( Cool
Pavilion,), and an octagonal pavilion standing on the
peak is referred to as Xixinting (Hearts Ease Pavilion,
). The number
of pillars that support the Woyunting (Lying-on-Clouds
Pavilion, is reduced for the path to pass through while
the Ningcuiting (Jade Crystallization Pavilion, is constructed
like an arc to match the shape of tile hill nearby.
They are all made and named
according to the surrounding landscape. The arohitectural
styles of the pavilions and temples here conform to
the Taoist pursuit of returning to nature without artificial
interferences and doing nothing that goes against nature.
They have blended in well with the landscape of the
mountain. Moreover, the appropriate couplets on the
pillars add a poetic flavor to the scenery. You will
see more couplets on our trip. Now let's get to the
mountaintop by cable car.
Ai'ter you get off the cable car you will arrive at
the scenic spot,Shangqing Temple. Shangqing Temple is
located at the highest point
of the 38 temples which remain on Mt. Qingcheng. In
the main hall is enshrined TaiShang Laojun, the founder
of Taoism. The temple gate is a two-story building,
on the horizontal board of 'which are three Chinese
characters (Shangqing Temple) written by Jiang Jieshi
On each side of the gate is a couplet written by Yu
Youren Behind the entrance gate are two halls, in which
a stone tiger and stone dragon are set up as the temple
guardians, one on the right and the other on the left.
In the temple there are two wells, a
square one and a round one. The two wells have the same
underground water resource, but one is shallow and clean
other is deep and muddy. The wells are said to have
been dug by a king's concubine in the ancient Shu state.
A stone tablet beside the wells is ca/red with three
Chinese characters ( Mandarin Duck Wells), which were
written by Zhang Daqian, one of the top masters of Chinese
painting. In the right ball of the temple the entire
text of Dao De Jing is inscribed on a wooden board.
You can see four carved Chinese characters: It means
that Dao does not ask anyone ibr help. For this reason
Taoists do not beg for ahns outside the temple, but
Buddhist monks may go outside their temples to do so.
Not iht from the temple stand three pavilions: Guanriting
(the Sun-viewing Pavilion, Shendengting (the Magic Lantern
Pavilion, and Haylngting (the Echo Pavilion, From
here you can view Mt. Qingcheng, the Minjiang River
and the Chengdu Plain. If you don't want to descend
the mountain but would
rather stay in the Shangqing Temple overnight, you may
get to see the magic lanterns, the sunrise and the cloud
sea, which make up the three wonders of Mt. Qingcheng.
As you walk down the winding path you will come to the
Fang- ning Bridge. One kilometer to its left is Zushi
where a princess in the Tang Dynasty once stayed and
practised Taoists. It is an important Taoist temple
where many Taoist followers meditate and practise the
religion. Thc valley in front of Zushi Temple is the
White Cloud Stream and thc mountain behind it is Xuanyuan
Peak. On the rock is written the "First Peak on
Mt. Qingcheng" and the "Fifth Famous Mountain
under the Heaven".
The forests and mists of the mountain transform this
temple into a peaceful and mysterious world. A historical
site is found here, a stone desk at which Du Guangting,
a scholar and also Taoist saint of the Tang Dynasty
studied and practised Taoism. General Feng Yuxiang stayed
in Zusbi Temple three times during the War of Resistance
against Japan. In 1945 when he got the news that Japan
had unconditionally surrendered to China he was overwhelmed
with joy and inscribed words on a tablet to commemorate
the victory. This tablet is now placed in the Temple
here and is protected as a historic relic. After your
visit to Zushi Temple you will arrive at the scenic
area of Tianshi Cave. Tianshi means a celestial master.
It is a title of high privilege conferred upon the master
of Taoism. The
Tianshi Cave scenic area refers to a group of Taoist
temples and shrines. It consists of Tianshi Hall, Sanhuang
Hall and Sanqing Hall.
Changdao Temple represents all three halls. As you descend
thf mountain, you will see the back hall, Tianshi Hall,
Sanhuang Hall and then the front hall Sanqing Hall.
Now, let's visit the halls one by one.
The last hall of Changdao Temple is Tianshi Hall. It
was reconstructed in the loth year of Emperor Guangxu's
reign in the Qing
Dynasty (1884). In the hall is enshrined the statue
of Celestial Master Zhang Daoling, who has three glaring
eyes, with his
left ann stretched out and a seal in his palm. The seal
is said to be his weapon to guard Mt. Qingching. A legendary
story has it that Zhang Daoling meditated and practised
the religion on Mt. Qingching but the rnotmtain ghosts
often disturbed him. ()ne day he invited the ghosts
to sign a peace agreement to end thc quarrels. After
the negotiation Zhang used his writing brush to dip
into the red ink and touched the mountain with the brush.
All of a sudden, the mountain split into a deep groove
along the lines of his handwriting. The mountain ghosts
were so scared by Zhang's super-natural power that they
all ran away from the mountain. Mt. Qingcheng has become
quiet and secluded ever since. Here you can appreciate
many precious histrical relics and commune with the
old trees, if you like.
At the front of the temple is Sanhuang Hall ( tile ltalI
of Three Emperors), in which three legendary emperors
of Fuxi, Shennong and
Xuanyuan are enshrined, Sanhuang also refers to the
Three August Ones-legendary rulers of remote antiquity,
listed as the Celestial Ruler, the Earthly Ruler and
the Mortal Ruler , who are looked upon as gods by Taoist
believers. In front of their statues is
a handwritten tablet inscribed by Emperor Xuanzong of
the Tang Dynasty. This tablet is regarded as the treasure
mountain by Taoist believers because this decree ordered
that temples here be returned to the Taoists; the Buddhists
build their temples outside Mt. Qingcheng, thus bringing
an end to the long-standing dispute between Taoism and
Buddhism. over who should possesses this holy mountain.
The scenic spots nearby are the Three-Island Stone,
the Heart Washing Pool , the Ladder to
Heaven and A Line of the Sky.
Sanqing Hall is the most magnificent hall in Tianshi
Cave. Tile main hall was built in 1923 and has been
renovated in recent years. A
stairway of nine stone steps leads to thc corridor in
the front of the hall, which has 5 ranked bays, and
is supported by 28 peripheral
columns, 4. 4 meters high. All the columns and arches
are made of whole stones, shaped and decorated with
simple colors and elegant designs. The top hall is Wuji
Hall( the Omnipotent Hall, ), which has an octagonal
courtyard for thc sake of ventilation, where
you never feel depressed. On a horizontal board were
inscribed these Chinese characters (Red Platform and
Jade Cave ) in
calligraphic form by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.
Three supreme Taoist gods are enshrined in the hall.
The Dao developed in three different eras: Yuqing holds
a pear in his hand, a symbol of the Hong Yuan Era (the
Flooding Era, ); Shangqing holds the
universe, a symbol of the Hun Yuan Era ( the Chaotic
Era, ; and Daiqing, holding a feather fan, is symbolic
of the Tai Chu
Era (the Remotest Era). The three gods are called Sanqing
(the Taoist Trinity). In the Sanqing Temple some musical
instruments were designed into the stone sculptures,
where a conch will emit a sweet sound whenever the wind
blows. So it is called the "Sound of Nature"
. It reflects the aesthetic value of Taoism. Near the
hall grows an l0O0-year-old gingko tree, 30 meters high
and 6 meters
around the trunk. The diameter of the tree crown is
more than 36 meters. It is said that Zhang Daoling planted
the tree himself.
After you visit Mt. Qingchen, do not lose the chance
to take some local products as souvenirs. May I suggest
four special and local
products which are worthy, of your appreciation: Qingcheng
wine, Qingcheng tea, Qingcheng pickle and gingko seeds,
the last of which can be cooked with chicken.