HENAN PROVINCE is considered the birthplace of Chinese civilization. Located in central- eastern China on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River plain, it is where the Shang dynasty, China's first dynasty, came into existence around 1700 B.C. when members of the invading Shang tribe overpowered the local tribes. Like Shandong, Henan is an important agricultural region dominated by the Yellow River. Shaolin Temple---of kung Fu fame---is located here.
Henan Province covers square 167,000 kilometers (64,000 square miles), is home to about 97 million people and has a population density of 570 people per square kilometer. About 48 percent of the population lives in rural areas.Zhengzhou is the capital and largest city, with about 6 million people. About 98.8 percent of the population is Han Chinese. There are small scattered populations of Mongols and Manchus. Henan is the source of many migrants that live outside the province. Maps of Henan: chinamaps.org
Henan Province is densely populated and rural. It is the third most populated province in China after Guangdong and Shandong. If Henan were a country it would be the 12th most populous country in the world, behind Mexico and ahead of the Philippines. Henan used to one of China's poorest provinces but in the last decade or so things have improved and is now ranked in the middle. In the 2000s, there were still reports of bandits robbing and killing travelers on the roads after dark and thousands contacted AIDS through contaminated blood.
The one-character abbreviation of Henan (pinyin: Hénán; Wade–Giles: Ho-nan) is “yù,”, named after Yuzhou (Yùzhōu), a Han Dynasty state (zhou) that included parts of Henan. Although the name of the province means "south of the river", approximately a quarter of the province lies north of the Yellow River, also known as the "Huang He". Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou which literally means "central plains" or "midland", although the name is also applied to the entirety of China proper.
Henan is the 5th largest provincial economy of China and the largest among inland provinces. However, per capita GDP is low compared to other eastern and central provinces, and Henan is considered to be one of the more less developed areas in China. The economy continues to depend on its dwindling aluminum and coal reserves, as well as agriculture, heavy industry, tourism, and retail. High-tech industry and service sector is underdeveloped and is concentrated around Zhengzhou and Luoyang.
Geography and Climate of Henan
Henan Map Henan covers a large part of the fertile and densely populated North China Plain, an area known as the "breadbasket of China". It borders Shaanxi Province to the west; Shanxi and Hebei to the north; Shandong and Anhui to the east and Hubei to the south. The Yellow River passes through central Henan (See Below). The Huai River in southern Henan is another important river.
Henan has a diverse landscape with floodplains in the east and mountains in the west. The Taihang Mountains enter northwestern part of Henan, forming the eastern edge of Loess Plateau. To the west the Xionger and Funiu Mountains form an extensive network of mountain ranges and plateaus, supporting one of the few remaining temperate deciduous forests which once covered all of Henan. Mount Song and its Shaolin Temple are located in the far east of the region, near the capital city Zhengzhou. The Dabie Mountains divides Hubei from Henan in the south. The Nanyang Basin, separated from North China Plain by mountains, is another important agricultural and population center. It culture and history are distinct from the rest of Henan and closer to that of Hubei's.
Henan has a temperate climate that is humid subtropical to the south of the Yellow River and bordering on humid continental to the north. There are four seasons, with hot, humid summers resulting from the influence of the East Asian monsoon, and generally cool to cold, windy, dry winters due to massive Siberian anticyclone. Temperatures average around the freezing mark in January and 27 to 28 °C in July. A great majority of the annual rainfall occurs during the summer. A major improvement project saw the planting of thousands of trees to cut down on the sand that was blown through the city by strong gusts.
The Yellow enters Henan from the northwest, via the Sanmenxia Reservoir and passes Luoyang, where the mountains gave way to plains. Huge amount of sediments due to the silt it picks up from the Loess Plateau has traditionally been deposited in Hean, raising the riverbed and causing frequent floods there. In recent decades, the construction of dams and levees, as well as excessive water use have ended the floods.
The Yellow River is the second longest river in China and the cradle of Chinese civilization as the Nile is cradle of Egyptian civilization. It originates in Tibet---like the Yangtze, China's largest river, and the Mekong River---and gets nearly 45 percent of its water from glaciers and vast underground springs of the Tibetan Plateau. From Tibet it flows for 5,464 kilometers (about 3,400 miles) through Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, the border of Shaanxi and Shanxi, Henan and Shandong before it empties into Bo Hai Gulf in the Yellow Sea.
The Yellow River is known as the Huang in China. It is slow and sluggish along most of its course and some regard it as the world's muddiest major river, discharging three times the sediment of the Mississippi River. It gets its name and color from the yellow silt it picks up in the Shaanxi Loess Plateau . The Yellow River flows in braided streams, a network of smaller channles that weave in and out of each other. In each channel slt slowly builds the riverbed above the surrounding landscape and gives the river its devastating habit of breaking its banks and changing course,
The Yellow River is a vital to making northern China inhabitable. It supplies water to 155 million people, or 12 percent of the Chinese population, and irrigates 18 million acres---15 percent of China's farmland. More than 400 million people live in the Yellow River basin. Agricultural societies appeared on its banks more than 7,000 years ago.
History of Henan
Henan was China's cultural, economical, and political center until about 1,000 years ago. Numerous heritage sites have been left behind including the ruins of Shang Dynasty capital city Yin and Shaolin Temple. Four of the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China, Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng, and Zhengzhou are located in Henan.
Henan was the center of some of the Yellow River valley earliest cultures and civilizations. Among the famous Neolithic sites are Peiligang Culture and Yangshao Culture, where some of the world’s first writing, alcoholic drinks and musical instruments appeared 8,000 years ago.
There are 16 key national units of protecting historical relics and 267 provincial units of protecting historical relics. The over-ground historical relics are the second in China in number. Historical relics in museums take up one-eighth of those in China, and the underground historical relics are the first in China in number. In Henan Museum there are 120,000 historical relics, including over 40,000 rare ones.
Zhengzhou flourished as the terminus of the New Pien Canal from the seventh through the 10th centuries. The railway has been important to the city from the arrival of the Peking-Han-k'ou line in the 1920s. A tower in the center of Zhengzhou commemorates a 1923 workers' strike that began there and spread along the rail line. The Communists changed the area from a strictly commercial and administrative center to an industrial hub when they took over in 1949.
Ian Johnson wrote in the NY Review of Books: “In a rural area of wheat fields and tea plantations in central China’s Henan province I met a pastor, a former political prisoner, and together we made a day trip to Rooster Mountain, a onetime summer retreat for Western missionaries and later for Communist officials. From its peak we looked down on China’s Central Plains, which stretch six hundred miles up toward Beijing. Over the past few decades, the region below us had become one of the centers of Christianity in China, and I asked him why. He said it was a reaction to the lawlessness and rootlessness in local society. “Henan is chaotic,” he said, “and we offer something moral amid so much immorality.” I thought of the many scandals that have hit Henan province in recent years — the “AIDS villages” populated by locals who sold their blood to companies that reused infected needles, or the charismatic millennial movements that had sprung up. Crime is high and local officials notoriously brutal, running their districts like fiefdoms.” [Source: Ian Johnson, NY Review of Books, November 22, 2012]
Great Famine in Henan Province
The worst of the Great Famine — which followed the Great Leap Forward — in the 1950s was in Xinyang in China's central Henan province, where one in eight people died from the famine. Pankaj Mishra wrote in The New Yorker, “One of Yang's most compelling case studies is of Xinyang, a city in Henan province, where a million people out of a population of more than eight million were victims of Maoist experimentation. Here, as in many parts of China, exaggerated reports of harvests and aggressive procurements of grain by the state led to mass starvation. By the spring of 1960, according to one of Yang's witnesses, corpses lay on the roads and in the fields, hardened by the winter cold and bent, often with holes in their buttocks and legs where flesh had been torn off. The survivors blamed dogs for the disfigurement. But the dogs had already been eaten. The truth was that many people that winter and the next survived by preying on the dead, sometimes even on their own family members." [Source: Pankaj Mishra, The New Yorker, December 10, 2012 <<>>]
Ian Johnson wrote in the NY Review of Books: "The sixty pages Yang spends on Xinyang are a tour de force, a brutal vignette of people dying at the sides of roads, family members eating one another to survive, police blocking refugees from leaving villages, and desperate pleas ignored by Mao Zedong and his spineless courtiers. It is a chapter that describes a society laid so low that the famine's effects are still felt half a century later. [Source: Ian Johnson, NY Review of Books, November 22, 2012 <>]
"Yang interviewed a colleague at the Xinhua news agency who had been stationed in Xinyang. During a long-distance bus ride, he said, “I could see one corpse after another in the ditches along the roadway, but no one on the bus dared to talk about the starvation." The reporter found out that a third of the population in some areas had died while “the leading cadres continued to stuff themselves." But “after I personally witnessed how people who spoke the truth were brought to ruin, how could I dare to write an internal reference report?” <>
"The starvation led to the destruction of human relations. In one case, an official heard about a teenage girl whose parents had died. Near death, she killed her four-year-old brother and ate him. Filled with pity and a sense of helplessness, the official finally arrested the girl, reasoning that at least in jail she might get something to eat. Local granaries were rarely opened, with officials who dared to do so punished, often with death. Meanwhile, farmers couldn't leave their villages. A Central Committee “urgent communiqué” declared anyone leaving rural areas to be a vagrant. Local officials enforced the travel ban brutally, beating thousands to death. Police controlled all train stations. Long-distance buses were driven only by Party members. Postal service was so heavily monitored that it essentially shut down. Rural China had become a gulag without food. “The peasants could only stay home and await death," Yang writes. <>
"When Mao finally heard about the Xinyang Incident in 1960, he acted delusionally, declaring that landlords had retaken control and wrecked his utopian experiment. One main culprit he identified was the daughters of landlords, whom he accused of marrying Communist Party officials and ruining them. An inspection team headed by a senior Party member arrived in Xinyang and concluded that local officials were responsible for failing to follow Beijing's orders. Of course they had been following Beijing's orders, which is why the starvation had taken place. No matter, several thousand were arrested and beaten, and hundreds were killed. That meant an even further hardening of local officials against any sort of rational response. The famine continued, spreading nationally and claiming tens of millions." <>
Liu reported: “The level of energy expended on covering up what was happening is chilling.One passage in the book reads: "When the Guangshan County post office discovered an anonymous letter to Beijing disclosing starvation deaths, the public security bureau began hunting down the writer. One of the post office's counter staff recalled that a pockmarked woman had mailed the letter. The local public security bureau rounded up and interrogated every pockmarked woman without identifying the culprit. It was subsequently determined that the writer worked in Zhengzhou and had written the letter upon returning to her home village and seeing people starving to death." Those who tried to leave the area were sent to labor camps. Ideological campaigns continued; in one district of Henan alone, 1,000 people were beaten to death for political problems. [Source: Louisa Lim, NPR, November 10, 2012]
Zhengzhou (700 kilometers southwest of Beijing and 600 kilometers southeast of Shanghai) is the capital and largest city of Henan Province, with about 6 million people. Located on the Yellow River, it is important inland transportation hub, a textile production center and, to many people, the ballroom dancing capital of China. While many cities feature dancing in parks and pavilions, in Zhengzhou dancing is done almost everywhere.
Zhengzhou (also spelled Cheng-chou and Chengchow) lies at a crucial railroad junction for both north-south and east-west lines. Industries have traditionally included textiles, flour mills, tobacco factories, locomotive repair plants, and a thermal generating station. Nearby countryside is irrigated by a pumping station erected in 1972.
The Zhengzhou city wall was built 3,500 years ago in the Shang era. The first phase of a new urban district with 40 high rises and commercial and cultural facilities organized into two circular “loopcities” connected by canals is scheduled to be completed soon. Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; Maps of Zhengzhou: chinamaps.org ; Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Zhengzhou is accessible by air, bus and train and lies at one of the most important railway junctions in China and has good connections to almost everywhere in China. Travel China Guide Travel China Guide
Zhengzhou Metro started operation in 2013 and currently has four lines with 151.8 kilometers of track and 98 stations
Line 1 runs from Henan University of Technology (Zhongyuan)to New Campus of Henan University (Jinshui). Opened in 2013 and extended 2019, it has 41.2 kilometers of track and 30 stations.
Line 2 runs from Jiahe (Huiji) to Nansihuan (Guancheng). Opened in 2016 and extended in 2019, it has 30.9 kilometers of track and 22 stations.
Line 5 Loop line runs from Yuejigongyuan (Zhongyuan) to Yuejigongyuan (Zhongyuan). .Opened in 2019, it has 40.4 kilometers of track and 31 stations.
Line 14 runs from Tielu (Zhongyuan) to Olympic Sports Center (Zhongyuan). Opened in 2019, it has 7.455 kilometers of track and 3 stations..
Line Chengjiao runs from Nansihuan (Guancheng) to Xinzheng International Airport (Xinzheng). Opened in 2017, it has 31.7 kilometers of track and 12 stations. Zhengzhou Metro: Urban Rail urbanrail.net
Sights in the Zhengzhou Area
In the square in front of a former museum crowds gather every night for "al-fresco" waltzes or "32-step" mass dance routines. At the People's Meeting Halls and the adjoining parking lot hundred practice the tango. Clubs and schools around town offer classes for 10 cents a lesson. Dancing became big in the 1980s and no one is sure why it has caught on here with such enthusiasm.
Guo State Museum (north of Sanmenxia City, 1.5 kilometers from the city is a special museum built on the ruins of the graveyard of the state of Guo in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-770B.C.). The state of Guo was a subordinate state in the early Western Zhou Dynasty. The Guoji Tomb is the tomb of the monarch of the state of Guo, which display the imposing manner and exposs the burial and hierarchy systems in the western Zhou Dynasty. An iron sword with a bronze core and a jade handle excavated from the Guoji Tomb pushes the Chinese history of smelting iron for nearly 200 years earlier, and the sword is known as the ” No. 1 Sword of China”.
Birth Place of Huangdi (in Xinzheng) is a holy place for overseas and domestic Chinese descendants to worship their ancestors. Huangdi, or the Yellow Emperor, is one of the legendary five emperors and a cultural hero who is considered in Chinese mythology to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. It is believed that he reigned from 2697 B.C. to 2597 B.C., and his personal name is thought to have been Gongsun Xuanyuan. On the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar Calendar each year, hundreds of thousands of Chinese people go to the site for the annual ancestor-worshipping ceremony; Admission: free.
Shizu Mountain is a symbol of the Yellow Emperor and is said to be where he was born. A 21-kilometer-long concrete-and-marble dragon was slated to be built on the mountain's ridge. The US$38.6 million project was expected to be finished in 2009 and was built primarily as a tourist draw. It was to incorporate 5.6 million pieces of white marble and gilded bronze. Trees were cleared to make way the dragon and shops. There were plans for a gondola. The project was halted in 2007 for lack of a permit. A lack of funding, and a general lack of interest, left the project unfinished..
Kang Baiwan's Manor (in Kangdian County of Gongyi City, 40 kilometers west of Zhengzhou) was built during the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by the landlord Kang Yingkui. It covers a building area of 64,300 square meters, including 33 courtyards, 53 buildings, over 1300 houses and 73 caves. It consists of dozens of parts such as a residential section, ancestral hall and garden section. The manor features various kinds of delicate carvings, including brick, wood and stone in different vivid shapes. It now has 36 exhibition rooms, boasting a large number of well-preserved antiques, and receives 160,000 tourists per year Hours Open: 8:00am-6:00pm (summer); 8:00am-5:00pm (winter)
- Admission: 75 yuan;- Getting There: take a bus from Zhengzhou to Gongyi City and Kang Baiwan Manor.
Yellow River Sights in the Scenic Area
Emperor Statue under construction Yellow River Scenic Area (on the southern shore of the Yellow River in Zhengzhou) is a national AAAA tourism zone, and a natural scenic zone, integrating sightseeing, leisure, holidays, popular scenic education, root exploration, sacrificing the ancestors and carrying forward the Chinese civilization. This scenic area is covered with green trees, and dotted with pavilions and towers, with picturesque scenery. Standing on the mountain, tourist can have a nice view of the Yellow River that keeps runing. The Yellow River Scenic Area is composed of five major scenic zones and more than 40 tourist attractions, such as Five Dragon Peak, Yueshan Temple, Xinghai Lake, the statues of emperors of Yandi and Huangdi.
Mangshan Yellow River Tourist Center (32 kilometers northwest of Zhengzhou) is a 10-square-mile area known for four things: 1) a project that diverted the Yellow River to Zhengzhou; 2) the Yueshan Temple Scenic Spot, where Zijin Tower and Iron Chain Bridge are found; 3) Luotuo Bridge and the nearby Stele Forest of the Yellow River, with 570 stone pinnacles inscribed with calligraphy; and 4) the Hanba Erwangcheng Scenic spot, which contains two Shang-era archeological sites and a mountain with a wonderful view of the Yellow River.
Yellow River Boat Tours can be organized from Sanmenxia dam to Ruicheng. Along this 65-kilometers route you will see the Mausoleum for the Yellow Emperor, the Burial Ground for Carriages and Horses, the No. 1 dam on the Yellow River, the Pagoda of Baolun Temple, Shaanxian cave dwellings and hot springs. The water is calm around Sanmenxia but rough around Luoyang.
King Lujian’s Tombs
King Lujian’s Tombs (15 kilometers north of Xinxiang, 50 kilometers north of Zhengzhou) is famous for its fine stone carvings on grand tomb buildings. Located at the southern foot of Mount Fenghuang and covering 26.7 hectares, the mausoleum comprises the tomb of ZhuYiliu (1568-1614), or King Lujian, the tomb of his second concubine and a bluestone-paved path leading to the tombs. The mausoleum is said to be the largest Ming imperial tombs so far discovered in China.
King Lujian’s Tombs was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 According to a report submitted to UNESCO: As recorded in King Lujian's Mausoleum Constructed by Imperial Orders, the king's tomb was completed in the eighth month of the 43rd year of Wanli's reign in the Ming Dynasty (1615), from which it could be inferred that the second wife's tomb was built in the 30th year of Wanli's reign (1602). The mausoleum was well protected by military and civil officials from its completion to the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. It continued to be protected in the early Qing Dynasty, after the government issued orders to protect the mansions of the kings of Zheng, Lu and Zhao in the third year of Shunzhi's reign (1646). It was regularly renovated after the structures and the land of the mausoleum were sold to Monk Zhenxi from Mount Wutaishan in the 13th year of Shunzhi's reign (1656), who used the structures as monks' dormitory and prayer halls. [Source: State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Xinxiang City, Henan Province]
“Zhu Yiliu, the occupant of the tomb, was the only brother of Zhu Yijun, Ming Emperor Shenzong, by the same mother. The tomb, therefore, is essentially related to Ding Mausoleum (the place where Zhu Yijun was buried), one of the Ming Tombs, and belongs to the same series of Ming imperial mausoleums as the Ming Xiao Mausoleum, the Ming Xian Mausoleum and the Ming Tombs.
“The natural surroundings of King Lujian's Mausoleum mainly consist of Fenghuang Hill in the north, Changling Hill and Hutou Hill in the east and west, and the water system of Heilongtan pool in the south. King Lujian's Mausoleum faces south, containing progressive steps and a bridge over a pond. While it embodies the high achievement of the planning and landscaping of ancient Chinese mausoleum, the Persian decorations on the stone carvings and the mosaic-like composition on the walls of Baoding reflect technical exchanges in architecture between the east and the west.
“The architectural complex has been under continuous traditional management. It was guarded by soldiers and off limits to ordinary people before the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. It continued to be protected in the early Qing Dynasty, after the government issued orders for the protection of Ming mansions and mausoleums in the third year of Shunzhi's reign (1646). It was renovated after the structures and land were sold to Monk Zhenxi from Mount Wutaishan in the 13th year of Shunzhi's reign (1656), who turned the structures into monks' dormitory and prayer halls and renovated them. It was protected by local villagers from the end of the Qing Dynasty (1911) to 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded, but part of it was destroyed in the wartime.”
Layout of King Lujian’s Tombs
The tomb of King Lujian consists of front, middle and back courtyards, covering a total area of 5.3 hectares. A columniform building, dubbed "treasure city", stands inside the back courtyard. The wall of "treasure city" is 9.35 meters high and its perimeter is 70 meters long. Under the "treasure city" is an underground palace, which consists of the front, middle, back, left and right chambers with an arched roof. Inside the back chamber lies the inner and outer coffins. One hundred meters to the west of the tomb of King Lujian sits the tomb of his second concubine, which covers 50,000 square meters in area. The tomb buildings are arranged in the same style of King Lujian's.
At the forefront of the tomb area stands a tall stone archway with high relief featuring designs of two dragons playing with a pearl and four Chinese characters which read "Lu Fan Jia Cheng", the name of the mausoleum. On both sides of the archway stand two five-meter-high stone ornamental columns and at the back of the archway extends the 200-meter-long bluestone-paved path leading to the tombs. Sixteen pairs of stone images and various animals stand on both sides of the path.
A rare girderless gate of the mausoleum of King Lujian distinguishes it from any other tomb of ancient monarchs and emperors of China. Ornamental columns, sacrificial steles, tombstones, stone sculptures and fine carvings on all stone buildings in the tomb area reflected the highest level of stone carving art in the Ming Dynasty, said Chang, the director.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The mausoleum, which covers an area of 157,000 square meters, contains large individual structures: the city gate tower measures 10 meters high and 21 meters wide; the city wall, 6 meters high and 1.5 meters thick, and 942 meters in circumference; the Baoding, 6 meters high and 140 meters in circumference. There are sixteen pairs of stone carvings along the soul path, exceeding any other Chinese mausoleum in number. The mausoleum is among the largest of its type as a whole and in terms of individual structures. [Source: State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Xinxiang City, Henan Province]
“King Lujian's Mausoleum is located... where the mansion of King Lu was situated. With Fenghuang Hill in the north, Changling Hill in the east, Hutou Hill in the west, and the water system of Heilongtan pool in the south, the surroundings perfectly conform to traditional fengshui principles on the location of tomb and are largely in the original state. Such major relics as the city wall around King Lujian's Mausoleum, the city gate tower at the entrance, the tomb itself, and stone animals along the soul path are original stone structures that are intact and free of human interference.” The mausoleum “and the soul path (excluding the second wife's tomb) consist of thirty-six individual remains. Thirty, or 83 percent of them, are original and under excellent or fairly good preservation. Two, or 2 percent or them, are under average preservation. Four, or 11 percent of them, namely the slaughterhouse, the inner city wall, Leng'en Gate and the side halls, are in poor or relatively poor condition, having been rebuilt or partially rebuilt at the original sites. The beautiful stone carvings, precious stone animals along the soul path, the calligraphic works by Zhu Changfang, the second-generation King Lu, carved on stones, and the making of guqin (seven-stringed traditional instrument) and the guqin music constitute rich intangible heritage.”
Nanjie (in Luohe 100 kilometers south-southeast of Zhengzhou) is a village with several thousand residents where Maoism remains alive and people still live according to commune principles. Here, soldiers goose step past a Mao statue while loudspeakers blare out the Communist Party anthem The East is Red!; women with balloon-seated pants and Mao buttons do calisthenics in front of huge Mao posters; and foot-tall porcelain Mao figurines grace new apartments. The village even has a miniature version of Mao's mausoleum. It is regarded as a Red Tourism Sight.
In Nanjie, there is no crime, unemployment, or unplanned children. Everyone lives in an identical free apartment, earns the same salary (about US$35 a month in the early 2000s) and receives free health care, insurance, utilities and free foodstuffs like flour, eggs and cooking oil. Families that lose stars according to a 10-star good behavior system lose privileges. Weddings are held in a group ceremony on January 1st, children attend school from 5:35:00am to 8:00pm, and social life revolves around political study classes.
In the late 1980s, Nanjie was a poor village like tens of thousands of others in China. After Tiananmen Square when hard-liners in the Communist party felt that Mao's image needed sprucing up Nanjie suddenly found itself the recipient of US$54 million in low interest loans and 11,000 low-paid laborers to run its factories.
Now the residents live in new houses with telephones, refrigerators, washing machines, and color television sets with cable. They are also provided with new sets of clothes twice a year by the government. The US$500,000 main street is lined with rocket-shaped street lights that cost US$360 a piece. The villages US$2 million kindergarten has granite walls and an electric gate. Up to 250,000 tourist visit Nanjie every year.
Taihang Mountain was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The special relics of geology, stratum, rock, structure, sedimentation, ancient extinct life fossil and hydrology, as well as the unique Zhangshiyan landform of Taihang Mountain have recorded the long geological history and profound changes (several movements of crustal rising, destructive activities, and fault block activities) of the Loess Plateau and step zone of Bohai Bay Basin in eastern Asia for over 2.5 billion years. It is a typical example of mountain range geological evolution in the hinterland of ancient continent (craton). [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China]
“Located at the intersection of the Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang region, the Loess Plateau region, the North China Plain region and the Tibet region, Taihang Mountain is endowed with complex biological components. It is an important geographical unit of global biodiversity and one of the central distribution areas of endemic birds in the world, as well as an important corridor for the survival of rare species in Northern China.
“Taihang Mountain, represented by the unique Zhangshiyan landform, has towering peaks, deep gorges, continuous waterfalls, peculiar caves. Together with the unique ecological landscape, astronomical phenomena in four seasons and beautiful colors, it has formed a special kind of long painting with mountains and rivers at the turning place of two major tablelands in China.
“Different parts of the nominated site are: 1) Hebei Section: 113°27 44.30"-115°57 18.02" E, 36°16 03.96"-40°21 07.54"N; 2) Shanxi Section: Huangya Cave Scenice and historic area 113° 23 37" E, 36° 46 53" N; 3) Henan Section: Wangwu Mountain Scenice and historic area 112° 17 40" E, 35° 8 50" N; 4) Yuntai Mountain Scenice and historic area 113° 21 23" E, 35° 25 58" N”
Taihang Mountain Geology and Ecosytem
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The special relics of geology, stratum, rock, structure, sedimentation, ancient extinct life fossil and hydrology, as well as the unique Zhangshiyan landform and Yuntai landform of Taihang Mountain have recorded the long geological history and profound changes (several movements of crustal rising, destructive activities, and fault block activities) of loess plateau and step zone of Bohai Bay Basin in eastern Asia for over 2.5 billion years. It is a typical example of mountain range geological evolution in the hinterland of ancient continent (craton). [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China]
“Taihang Mountain is a typical example of the mountain range form in eastern Asia. The section of Taihang Mountain in Hebei Province is located at the east of the major ridge of Taihang Mountain, being the section that best demonstrates the majestic appearance of the towering Taihang among Beijing Municipality, Hebei Province, Shanxi Province and Henan Province. Zhangshiyan landform is the geomorphologic landscape that develops widely in the central and southern sections of Taihang Mountain. Zhangshiyan landform is the geologic record of landform evolution and strong uplifting of the mountain system in Taihang Mountain region and even the entire North China since the Neogene period and has become an important example of the strong uplifting of Taihang Mountain in the Quaternary period. The complex topography and long evolution history of Taihang Mountain are also very rare among existing mountain world heritage sites and have extremely high aesthetic and scientific research value.
“The Taihang Mountains contain rare, almost intact natural secondary forests, alpine meadows and steep slopes. The region is a key habitat for many species endemic to China, such as Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus fontanierii), brown eared pheasant (Crossoptilon mantchuricum), green-backed flycatcher (Ficedula elisae) and grey-sided thrush (Turdus feae). The Zhangshiyan landform of Taihang Mountains also is the only habitat for rare endemic plants such as Taihangia rupestris var. Taihangia, Clematis lanuginose, Oresitrophe rupifraga and Corydalis fangshanensis. The waterfront cliffs of Taihang mountains provide unique breeding habitats for black stork (Ciconia nigra), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo). The valleys provide key wintering area for endangered Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus). Meanwhile, the region is an important corridor for most migrating raptors in East Asia. In a word, the Taihang Mountains constitute a unique geographic unit for biodiversity conservation.”
Traveling in the Taihang Mountains Near Anyang
Yu Wen wrote in China Pictorial: “The Taihang Mountains stretch far and wide across northern China. One of the most scenic sections of the mountains is within the boundary of Anyang City in Henan Province. In China, the mountains in the south are typically elegant, while those of the north are imposing. Mount Linlu is regarded as being magnificently representative of mountains in the north. The scenic area, with well-integrated natural and manmade attractions, has remained a well-known scenic spot since the Fifth Century. Although a tourist site with a long history, the area remains unspoiled, offering green mountains, clear waters and fresh air. In recent years, an international gliding base was established in the area, adding a little ecologically-friendly color and excitement. [Source: Yu Wen, China Pictorial, June 9, 2009]
Deep in the Taihang Mountains, there are many small villages. The farm houses there are built of mountain rocks. Stone houses, stone courtyards, stone walls, stone towers, stone stairs and stone rollers can be found everywhere in the villages. To spend one or two nights in the village and savor the simple and delicious dishes prepared by villagers is a highlight of a short getaway in the mountains.
Red Flag Canal , a man-made wonder of the 1960s, is also located in the scenic area. Local people spent 10 years cutting the 1,500-meter-long canal on the towering and cragged Taihang Mountains. At the point where the eight-meter-wide trunk canal reaches the diversion conduits, it transforms into three main canals, each with thousands of branches and sub-branches. Thanks to these canals, life on this once dry land thrives.The cutting of the canal on the mountain proved to be an arduous task. To build the canal local people chopped even 1,250 peaks, set in place 152 aqueduct bridges, cut 211 tunnels and constructed 12,408 buildings. Today, the Red Flag Canal is deemed to be something more than just an example of irrigation work; it is a symbol of self-reliance, hard work, unity and devotion. It represents the unremitting endeavor and spirit of the Chinese people in their pursuing of ideals and goals.
Driving from Beijing: Take the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Expressway to Anyang City, exit to Anlin Highway to Linzhou City. It is a six-hour drive covering a 600-kilometer distance. Road signs will show the way to the Red Flag Canal, the Grand Taihang Canyon and other scenic spots. Local travel services offer one-day, two-day, and three-day package tours.
Grand Taihang Canyon and Mount Linlu
Yu Wen wrote in China Pictorial: “The Grand Taihang Canyon extends 50 kilometers within the Mount Linlu Scenic Area. Peaks upon peaks and huge rocks resembling hanging swords were formed billions of years ago during an active movement of Earth's crust. Hills, peaks, platforms, cliffs, gorges, waterfalls and springs in diverse forms offer more than 400 scenic spots. Among many attractions, three are especially appealing to tourists. The peach trees on the mountainside in Peach Blossom Valley bloom full in midwinter. A place known as Bingbingbei begins to ice up every year with the coming of spring, with the ice beginning to melt away after August; and in midwinter, Bingbingbei is abundant with warm springs and lush vegetation. [Source: Yu Wen, China Pictorial, June 9, 2009]
“A rock known as "Predictor in Wilderness" is the other wonder of this scenic area. The rectangular rock in deep reddish purple is encircled by mountains. Named Pig Crying Rock, its "head" faces west while its tail is thrust eastward into the earth beneath the cliffs. The section of the rock above the surface is about four cubic meters. It is said that the rock will produce sounds like that made by a pig while running whenever an important event is about to take place. A lifeless rock is thus imbued with legend, and many people come to have a look.
“Waterfalls can be found throughout the canyon, thundering down from the high mountains, and gently washing down over one platform after another. The 346-meter-tall Peach Blossom Waterfall is probably the highest of its kind in Asia. Contrasting with the thundering waterfalls, Ping Lake is calm. Now and then, a passing boat will create some ripples, which will soon disappear without a trace. And the clouds pooling around Mount Linlu present a fairyland-like scene.
“In this natural art gallery is the world-class international gliding base. Located 1,600 meters above sea level on the peak of Mount Linlu, the landform here offers an ideal launch platform. Mount Linlu is distinctively separated from the Linlu Basin. Air currents rise along the cliffs to finally gather at the 60-angle peak. The peak covers an area of 16,000 square meters and can accommodate up to 30 gliders launching simultaneously. Gliding competitions have been held here annually since 1992.
“Views in Mount Linlu change with the seasons. In the springtime, the soft and moist mountain slopes look like a painter's palette covered with light-yellow and snow-white patches of flowers. In the summertime, the grand canyon becomes a green corridor, and the scene of clouds streaming out in the glow of the evening is spectacular. It is a colorful world dyed by the autumn hues in the fall, while in the winter it is snow white, revealing the firm lines of the terraces. Most tourists come to the canyon for sightseeing, relaxing, camping and gliding. In recent years, many art school students have come to sketch and paint, and some television and film production studios also use this place as a location for their shoots.”
Wangwu Mountain Scenic and Historic Area
Wangwu Mountain Scenic and Historic Area ( 112° 17 40" E, 35° 8 50" N) is in the Taihang Mountain area, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017 According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Wangwu Mountain National Park is located in Jiyuan, Henan in the south of Taihang Mountains. Wangwu Mountains is a distinctive specimen of the geological tectonic movement in ancient North China continent. The products of sedimentation and tectono-thermal events from Archaean Eon to Cenozoic Era are clearly exposed, while the angular unconformity and tectonic relics formed during the Precambrian land formation and mountain formation are well preserved. The distinctive structures formed during the Wangwu Mountain Event such as folds, ancient volcanoes and ancient volcanic remains are direct evidence for the processes of the rifting and collision of North China continent during the Precambrian period. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China]
Wangwu Mountain is a Taoist sacred place, listed as the first of the “Ten Great Grotto-Heavens” during the Han-Wei period. There are now three ancient Taoist temples in Wangwu Mountain: Ziwei Palace, built in 699 A.D., of which only the remains are left nowadays; Yangtai Palace, first built in 727 A.D. and rebuilt in Ming Dynasty; Qingxu Palace, first built in Tang Dynasty, rebuilt in Ming Dynasty and repaird in Qing Dynasty. In the three temples are preserved over a hundred historical stone tablets and tens of Taoist statues, constituting precious material for studies of Chinese Taoist history and history of calligraphy.
Yuntai Mountain Scenic and Historic Area
Yuntai Mountain (near Jiaozuo City, 40 kilometers northwest of Zhengzhou) is famous for its unique geological landforms and rich natural resources. Covered with lush original forests, the mountain has several deep valleys and ponds, lots of waterfalls and springs, and perilous cliffs and peaks. The well-known Yuntai Heaven Waterfall with a height of 314 meters, lies in the Laotan Valley scenic area. The mountain was named a World Geographical Park by UNESCO in 2004;
Yuntai Mountain Scenic and Historic Area (113° 21 23" E, 35° 25 58" N) is in the Taihang Mountain area, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Yuntai Mountain National Park is located in Jiaozuo, Henan in the south of Taihang Mountains. Yuntai Mountains have unique landforms. The alternates and crossings of peaks and valleys, as well as cliff walls and steps along the cliffs form a secondary landform named Yuntai Landform. Yuntai Sky Waterfall, which has the largest drop (314 meters) in Asia, also locates here and forms unique geological scenery. Yuntai Mountains have a wild Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) population which locates in highest latitude area in China, and critically endangered invertebrate animals, Craspedacusta xinyangens, as well as more than 400 kinds of seed plants. All of these show a high biodiversity in this area. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China]
Situated in Xiuwu County, Henan Province, Yuntai Mountain is famous for its fantastically misshapen hills, that fan out as far as the eye can see, and numerous rivers, lakes, pools and swimming holes. Yuntai is home to China's highest waterfall. The Yellow River pitches itself 314 meters over the Yuntai Skyscraper Waterfall creating a magnificent pillar of water. Spring water here is also renowned for being particularly sweet and cool that some say that you will never forget such a refreshing experience
Travel Information: Tickets for Yuntai Mountain allow for two-days of admission to every scenic area in the park, including the mountain gate, Red Stone Gorge, Tanpu Gorge, Cornel Peak and Wanshou Temple. Additionally if you wish to stay overnight at the mountain, Yuntai Hotel is a good choice. While expensive, it is well maintained with an excellent location; Admission: 150 yuan (US$23.55) (from March to Nov); 60 yuan (from Dec to Feb); Location: Mountain Yuntai Secnic Spot, Xiuwu County, Jiaozuo City, Henan Province Tel: +86-391-7709001 Getting There: By Bus: Tourism buses depart from Jiaozuo to Yuntai Mountain every half hour. By Motorcycle: If you have time, you can ride from Luoyang to Yuntai Mountain in about 5 hours;
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in July 2020