ANHUI PROVINCE: HUANGSHAN, ALLIGATORS AND SPECTACULAR MOUNTAIN SCENERY

ANHUI PROVINCE

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ANHUI PROVINCE was the setting of Pearl Buck's 1931 classic The Good Earth. About the size of England, it is located in eastern China not so far from Shanghai and includes parts of both the Yangtze and Huai river systems. Relatively small but diverse, Anhui is filled with tea plantations and draws tourists mainly with its charming villages and the spectacular mountain Huangshan. The Huizhou District is an area of the province dotted with ancient pagodas and lovely Ming-era homes. Efforts are being made to preserve and restore these buildings.

Anhui is regarded as a cradle of Chinese civilization, and was home to famous Huaihe River culture and the Hui culture. Pearl Buck lived in and was inspired by Anhui province. It used to one of China's poorest regions and was known in Beijing mainly for producing honest, reliable and practical maids, but in recent decades its economic numbers have improved, partly because of its nearness to Shanghai, and is a major source of migrant labor. Anhui looms large in Shanghai's phobias about uncultured and potentially dangerous bumpkins from the sticks. In a widely followed case in the late 2000s, an out-of-work Anhui migrant was sentenced to death by Shanghai court after he confessed to murdering a Canadian model who lived in the city. In the 2007 book China Road, author Rob Gifford stated that the Chinese refer to Anhui as a "big agricultural province", a euphemism for it being a "very poor" and sort of like the "Appalachia of China."

Anhui (pinyin: Ānhuī; Wade–Giles: An-hui, Mandarin pronunciation: ánxwéi) Province covers 140,200 square kilometers (54,100 square miles) and has a population density of 430 people per square kilometer. According to the 2020 Chinese census the population was around 61 million, about 1 million less than 2010. About 55 percent of the population lives in urban areas. Hefei is the capital and largest city, with about 3.8 million people in the city and 6.2 million in the metro area. Han Chinese make up the vast majority of the population. The Hui and She are the two largest minorities. The name "Anhui" derives from the names of two cities in southern Anhui, Anqing and Huizhou (now Huangshan City).The abbreviation for Anhui is "Wan". Historically there was a State of Wan, a Mount Wan, and a Wan river in the province.

The population of Anhui was 61,027,171 in 2020; 59,500,510 in 2010; 58,999,948 in 2000; 56,180,813 in 1990; 49,665,724 in 1982; 31,241,657 in 1964; 30,343,637 in 1954; 22,462,000 in 1947; 23,354,000 in 1936-37; 21,715,000 in 1928; 16,229,000 in 1912. [Source: Wikipedia, China Census]

As for tourist areas, Anhui boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, five national historic and cultural cities, 10 national scenic and historic interest areas and 31 national scenic areas rated above AAAA level. In addition to Mt. Huangshan, travelers also seek out Jiuhuashan, a famous Buddhist mountain; Mt. Qiyun, one of China’s famous Taoist immortal mountains; Tianzhu mountain; Nanyue, another famous Buddhist holy mountains; the beautiful Xin’an River; the ancient southern Anhui villages of Xidi and Hongcun. The rich tourism resources of Anhui are summed by old sayings “The Wanjiang River surges 800 li, the Huaihe River has a history of 5,000 years” (1 li = 0.5 kilometer) and “Nowhere can be called dreamland once you come to Huizhou, no mountain is worthy of being visited once you travel to Mt. Huangshan.”

Hefei is the capital of Anhui

Tourist Office : Anhui Provincial Tourism Administration, 8 Meishan Rd, 230022 Hefei, Anhui, China, tel. (0)-551-282-1725, fax: (0)-551-282-4001. Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Map:Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide Maps of Anhui: chinamaps.org ; Maps of Hefei: chinamaps.org ;

Geography of Anhui

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Anhui Province is located at the hinterland of East China, crossing the Yangtze River and the middle and lower reaches of the Huai River. It borders the provinces Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny section in the north. Major rivers include the Huai He in the north and the Yangtze in the south. The largest lake is Lake Chaohu in the center of the province, with an area of about 800 square kilometers (310 square miles). The southeastern part of the province near the Yangtze River has many lakes as well.

Anhui is quite diverse geographically. The north lies in the North China Plain while the north-central areas lies in the Huai He River basin. Both of these regions are very flat and densely populated. The land becomes more hilly and mountainous as one one travels south, with the Dabie Mountains occupying much of the southwestern part of the province. The Yangtze River makes its way through the series of hills and ranges that cut through southeastern Anhui. The highest peak in Anhui is 1873-meter-high Lotus Peak, part of Huangshan in southeastern Anhui.

The climate differs between from north to south. The north is more temperate and has more distinct four seasons. January temperatures average at around-1 to 2 °C north of the Huai He, and 0 to 3 °C south of the Huai He; in July temperatures average 27 °C or above. Plum (monsoon) rains occur in June and July and may cause flooding.

History of Anhui

The province of Anhui was formed in the 17th century. Before then, there was no coherent concept of "Anhui". Northern Anhui was firmly a part of the North China Plain in terms of culture, together with modern-day Henan province. Central Anhui constituted most of the fertile and densely-populated Huai He River watershed. Southern Anhui, along the Yangtze, was closer to Hubei and southern Jiangsu provinces in culture. Finally, the hills of southeastern Anhui formed a unique and distinct cultural sphere of its own.

During the Warring States period, Shouchun (modern Shou County) in central Anhui became a refugee capital for the state of Chu after its heartlands in modern Hubei province was overrun by the powerful state of Qin in the west, in 278 B.C. Qin nevertheless managed to conquer all of China in 221 B.C., creating the Qin Dynasty. Anhui was administered under several different commanderies during the Qin Dynasty and the Han Dynasty. Near the end of the Han Dynasty, Shouchun became the base for the warlord Yuan Shu, who declared himself emperor at one point, but soon succumbed to illness, allowing his small realm to come under the powerful warlord Cao Cao, founder of the Wei Kingdom, one of the Three Kingdoms.

The 4th century saw the influx of nomadic tribes from Central Asia into North China. This began several centuries of political division of northern and southern China. Being at the juncture of north and south, the lands comprising modern Anhui changed hands frequently and was usually bisected through the middle politically. The Battle of Feishui, between the Former Qin of the north and the Eastern Jin Dynasty of the south, took place in 383 A.D. in modern Anhui.

The Sui Dynasty (581-618) and the Tang Dynasty (618-907) oversaw several centuries of relative peace and unity in China. During this period Anhui was once again ruled under several different jurisdictions. During the division of China between the Jin/Jurchen Dynasty in the north and the Southern Song Dynasty in the south, Anhui was once again bisected, this time along the Huai He River. This lasted until Mongol reunification of China in 1279.

The Ming Dynasty drove out the Mongols in 1368. Due to a short stint as the capital of China by the city of Nanjing in nearby Jiangsu province, the entirety of Jiangsu and Anhui kept their special status as territory-governed directly by the central government, and were called Nanzhili ("Southern directly-governed"). The Manchu Qing Dynasty, which conquered China in 1644, changed this situation by establishing Nanzhili as Jiangnan province; in 1666 Jiangsu and Anhui were split apart as separate provinces. This was the beginning of the contemporary Anhui province, which has since kept almost the same borders as today. The one significant change that occurred was the move of the provincial capital from Anqing to Hefei in 1946. When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Anhui was briefly split into two separate administrative regions: Wanbei (North Anhui) and Wannan (South Anhui). They were merged into a province in 1952.

Culture, Famous People and Food of Anhui

Jian’an Literature, the Tongcheng Literary School and Xin’an Culture originated in Anhui. The province is also known for Hui Opera, Huangmei Opera and Flower Drama Dance, its traditional forms of drama. Hui Merchants have been respected for their business acumen for 300 years. China’s first steam engine, merchanical ship and telephone were produced in Anhui.

Among the famous people from Anhui are Lao Zi, founder of Taoism, Huatuo, a magical doctor of the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220) and Cao Cao, the brilliant political and military strategist and villain from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which took place in the of Three Kingdoms period (A.D. 220-280).

Anhui Cuisine is known for mixing the cuisines of the regions that surround it: hot and spicy from Sichuan, oily and sweet from Jiangsu and salty from Shandong. Small pieces of sugared candy and salted foods are often used as spices. Many famous dishes are made with stone frogs and soft-shelled turtles. Famous dishes include Huangshan Fragrant Fish, Bagong Mountain tofu rolls, Three Rivers gumbo, stewed soft-shell turtle with sweet ham and steamed Huangshan Stone Frog. Henan-style noodles with ruffled edges served in lamb broth with lily bulbs.

Hui cuisine is perhaps the most representative of Anhui Cuisine. Ham is a common ingredient. It sometimes coated with crystal sugar and roasted. When Pot-roast is made great importance is attached to heat control. Famous dishes include Brasied Fish head and Tails, Fish Tails in Brown Sauce and Salted Mandarin Fish. Yanjiang cuisine featuring freshwater fish and poultry, and Yanhuai cuisine combining local styles of Bengbu, Suxian County and Fuyang are all said to be tasty.

Hefei City

Hefei (130 kilometers west of Nanjing) is the capital and largest city in Anhui Province, with about 3.8 million people in the city and 6.2 million in the metro area. Covering an area of 7,029.48 square kilometers, it is the hometown of Bao Zheng (999-1062), a famously impartial official in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Hefei, known as a city half covered with mountain and half with lake, combines the delicate beauty of the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers and blends the flavor of South and North of China. Although there isn’t much too and it is a typical Chinese cities it does have some nice green it has a reputation of being something of a garden city.

Hefei Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net

Hefei is situated about eight kilometers to the north of Chao Lake and sits on a low saddle crossing the northeastern extension of the Dabie Mountains, which forms the divide between the Huai and Yangtze rivers. There is not so much to see in Hefei and it is relatively easy to give the city a miss as you can visit the main sights in Anhui without going through it and it is not really on any major travel routes. However, if you do want seek Hefei out or get stuck there are a few places worth checking out.

Anhui Normal University was named one the ten most beautiful universities in China One of the oldest universities in Anhui province, it is located on the south bank of the Yangtze River, close to the famous beauty spot of Zheshan. It has a large Chinese language study program for overseas students. The campus is especially beautiful in winter when it is covered with snow.

Anhui Provincial Museum is a fascinating museum full of bronze statues and Han Dynasty tomb rubbings. It also exhibits some ancient examples of the wooden architectural style commonly found in the surrounding area.

Hefei Science and Technology Museum (in the middle of Huangshan Street) is located in Hefei where many scientific and educational institutions can be found. The major exhibition hall ithe museum looks like a large vessel braving the mighty sea, symbolizing the ship of science and technology sailing forward. On the eastern side of the exhibition hall is a ball-shaped exhibition hall, with the only domed theater in Anhui. The museum contatins more than 300 exhibits housed in 14 sections: flight simulation, energy machines, information technology, human life science, motion, machinery, mathematics, a children’s zone, sound, light, electromagnetics, Yang Chen Ning Exhibition Hall, a dome theater and a spherical cinema. Many exhibits are interactive.

Near Hefei

Chaohu Lake (eight kilometers south of Hefei) is a large lake shaped like a bird's nest, "Chaohu" means the nest lake. It is the fifth largest freshwater lake in China and is famous for its landscape. Gushan Island and the Laoshan Island are situated in the middle of the lake. Three hot springs — Bantang Spring, Fragrant Spring and Tangchi Spring — are located around the lake. There are four national forestry parks and five water-eroded caves nearby also. Travel Information: Best time to visit: All year except January and July; Admission: 40 yuan Getting There: bus from Chaohu City center.

Fengyang Royal Mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty (60 kilometers north of Hefei) is located in the southwest of Fenyang County. The mausoleum is the tomb of the parents of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Construction of the mausoleum began in 1369 and was completed 14 years later. The mausoleum is surrounded by three walls known as King, Brick and Earth. Along the walls there are many sites such as the main hall, the golden gate, Huangtang Bridge, and many stone sculptures. The tombstone of the mausoleum is about seven meters high and two meters wide, ranking first among all the emperors' mausoleums in China and a key cultural relic Travel Information: Best time to visit: all year; Admission: 50 yua Getting There: bus from Fengyang County.

Jiuhua Mountain

Jiuhua Mountain (south of Chizhou, 150 kilometers south of Hefei) is called the "Immortal City of the Buddhist Kingdom." Located in a 120-square kilometer national park, it contains 99 peaks, the most famous of which are Tiantai Peak and Shiwang Peak. There are over 82 temples, with monks, nuns and 3000 statues of Buddha. One of the temples honors monk Wuxia who is believed to have become a Buddha after his death.

Jiuhua Mountain is famous for its breathtakingly beautiful natural landscape and profound Buddhist culture. It is even reputed as “Lotus Flower Buddhist Kingdom”. There are many peaks and unusual rock formations. The nine main peaks look like lotuses in different shapes each with its own style. The image of sleeping Buddha naturally formed by endless peaks represents the harmonious fusion of natural landscape and Buddhist culture.

Covering an area of 100 square kilometers southwest of Qingyang County, Jiuhua Mountain borders on the Yangtze River in the north and faces the Huangshan Mountain toward the south. It is considered as one of the greatest Buddhist mountains in China with other three mountains: Wutai Moutain (Shanxi Province), Emei Mountain (Sichuan Province) and Putuo Mountain (Zhejiang Province).

Construction was about to begin on the world's tallest (250 meters high) Buddha in Bodhgaya, Nepal — the Buddha's birthplace — when the Chinese announced they were building a Buddha statue that was three meters taller on Jiuhua mountain. The 1000-ton copper-plated Chinese statue was finished in 2004 and cost US$57 million.

With its marvelous landscape and pleasant climate, Jiuhua Mountain is considered one of the best summer resorts in China. It boasts 99 peaks, 18 scenic spots and more than 90 temples, most of which were restored from the Ming and Qing dynasties Travel Information: Best time to visit: spring, summer and autumn; Admission: 190 yuan during the busy season (March-November), 140 yuan during other months Getting There: bus from Tongling railway station. Web Sites: Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

Tianzhushan

The Tianzhushan scenic area (in Qianshan County, 150 kilometers south-southwest of Hefei and 50 kilometers west of Anqing City) boasts 45 peaks, 17 ridges, 18 cliffs, 22 caves, 86 unusual rock formations, 18 waterfalls and 17 springs along with towering pines, waterfall, springs, canyons, gorges and ancient mountain strongholds. The highest peak is called "Tianzhu Peak", because it's like a giant pillar reaching into the sky. Travel Information: Best time to visit: March to November; Admission: 150 yuan for the busy season (Mar. 16-November15), 110 yuan for other months; Getting There: bus from Hefei City, 60 yuan per person.

Tianzhushan (Tianzhu Mountain) was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Tianzhushan has both pleasant ecological environment and profound historical culture. It is a large mountainous landscape, dotted with granite peaks and caves, waterfalls and springs, which is the most beautiful granite along Tan-Lu fault zone. Tianzhushan is rich in geoheritage such as mammalian fossils and an ultrahigh pressure (UHP) metamorphic belt of eclogite, an unusually dense rock important for driving convection within the solid Earth. Tianzhushan has profound cultural landscapes with a long history. It is the cradle of Hui Culture. Xuejiagang Culture discovered in Xuejiagang site is the only Neolithic culture in Anhui province and the origin of ancient culture of Anhui province. The Cliffside stone inscription recorded the inscription art for 1200 years. Sanzu Temple has an extremely important status and influence in the Tianzhushan religious culture. The nominated property is the area where he first long narrative poem Peacocks Flying Southward took place. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

Total area of the property is 338.02 square kilometers, including 225.3 square kilometers as its buffer zone. The nominated property is divided into two parts. The northern part is granite Landform Park, with the same boundary as Mount Tianzhu scenic area planning area, an area of 102.72 square kilometers. For the southern part, UHP metamorphic belt, paleontological fossils and XueJiagang site, an area of about 10 square kilometers.

Tianzhushan granites were formed in Mesozoic period. They have experienced subduction and collision process of plates in Indosinian period and tension and collapsed process after collision, belonging to post-orogenic granites. Tianzhushan displays almost all the main features of granite landscapes in the world, odd peaks, unusual rock formations, caves and canyons, in particular, the landscape of Mysterious Valley, formed by landslides and collapsed towers of granite, can be called a great wonder of the world.

Alligator Sinensis Nature Reserve

The Anhui National Nature Reserve for Chinese Alligator (with 602 hectares in Jingxian county, Anhui and other places in Anhui) was created in 1982 in an area where Chinese alligators live in Anhui Province. It covers an area of 18,565 hectares (45,880 acres). A survey by Anhui National Nature Reserve for Chinese Alligator (ANNRCA, in 2005 deduced that there are between 92 and 114 adult and 66 young Chinese alligators remained in the wild, living in bodies of fresh water in six regions of Anhui, as well as possibly in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Originally they could be found as far away as Japan.

The Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis), also known as the Yangtze alligator and historically known in China as the muddy dragon, is a critically endangered crocodilian endemic to China. It and the American alligator are the only living species in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. Chinese alligator are dark gray or black in color with a fully armored body and reach to 1.5–2.1 meters (5–7 feet) in length and weigh 36–45 kilograms (80–100 pounds). They are similar to American alligators they spend more time in their muddy lairs.

Alligator Sinensis Nature Reserve (I assume the same place as ANNRCA) was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Alligator Sinensis distributed in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River is a peculiar wildlife in China. The Alligator Sinensis, one of the fresh water crocodiles in the alligator family, have a history of 200 million years. There are only two species of this family in the world today, one is the Alligator Sinensis in China and the other is Alligator mississippiensis in the Mississippi River of north America. Having a gentle disposition and no harm to the people, the Alligator Sinensis is one of the rare animals in the world. According to the field survey, the Alligator sinensis is only distributed over the southern part of Anhui Province and some places of the neighbouring province of Zhejiang, totalling about 500 pieces. Since it has some significance in the history of the animal evolution and academic importance, the biological specialists both at home and abroad have devoted much attention to the protection of the animal which was ranked as one of the protected wildlives in the world by the United Nations in 1973. The Chinese Government has also given its first priority to take care of the animal. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

“ In order to protect the endangered animal an Alligator sinensis Nature Reserve was established by the Government of Anhui Province in 1982. The Reserve (30'6'31"-6'N and 180°-119° 6'E) covers five counties of Nanling, Jingxian, Shuancheng, Lanhxi, Guangde of Anhui Province. The headquarter of the management organization locates at the Forestry Bureau of Shuancheng Profecture and the top governing organ is the Forestry Department of Anhui Provincial Government and then the Reserve was approved by the State Council as one of the State controlled reserves in China in July, 1986. There are three rivers in the Reserve, namely Zhanghe River, Qingyi River and Shuiyang River which are linked up each other and empty into the Yangtze River. The three rivers are connected with many lakes, ditches and ponds with abundant food for the animal and less human disturbance, so that it is a suitable habitat for the Alligator sinensis.

“The animal usually inhabits in the lairs of the hilly land at the elevation of less than 100 meters where the soil is more soft with a large amount of sand content. The vegetation here is mainly grasses, such as Miscanthus sinensis, Imperata cylindrica, Themeda triaudra, Kummerowia stipulaces etc. quite a few bushes of Rosa multiflora, Rubus parvifolius, Lespeteza formosa etc. and some scattered trees of Salix matudana, Melia azedarach, Robinia Pseudoacacia, Celtis sinensis etc. It is very interesting that the body temperature and the metabolism of the Alligator sinensis can be changed according to the environmental conditions. The dormant stage of the animal begins at the end of October till the middle of April the next year.

“The establishment of the Alligator sinensis Nature Reserve has played an important role in preserving this odd species. The accidents of killing the Alligator sinensis have been reduced gradually during the last few years because of the managing personnel of the Reserve using all kinds of opportunities such as meetings, radio, proclamations and bulletin boards to educate the public inside the Reserve the awareness of importance for protecting the rare animal. Besides, five protection and observation stations have been set up and another six are under preparation in the townships, villages and hill and pond sides where there are more Alligator sinensis inhabited. In 1985, in the four protected lairs, the Alligator sinensis laid 87 eggs and hatched 51 young ones, so that the population of the animal has been increased in the field. With the purpose of rescuing the endangered rare species an "Anhui Provincial Alligator sinensis Propagation and Research Centre" was established by the Ministry of Forestry, the People-Anhui Provincial Government in 1982 to carry out artificial raising, propagation and research work and to regain and develop the resource of the animal in China and to probe the relationship between the Alligator sinensis and human beings. The Centre has hatching rooms, propagation pools and raising ponds, covering a total area of 100 hectares. Having several years of experiences total area of 100 in biological research, the Centre has mastered the principles of propagation and growth and the methods of artificial raising of the animal, so that the hatching and survival rate has been increased year by year. The hatching rate was 90.3 percent and the survival rate 95.4 percent in 1985. At present, there are more than 1,000 Alligator sinensis kept in the Centre. The establishment of the Alligator sinensis Nature Reserve has played an important role in protecting and propagating the animal. The Alligator sinensis had already lived for more than 200 million years on earth before the appearance of Human beings, that's why people call it a living fossil. The Chinese Government has made great efforts and gained distinct achievements in protecting one of the two fresh water crocodiles in the world.

Chinese Alligator Propagation Research Center (in Xuancheng 150 kilometers south of Nanjing and 150 kilometers west of Hangzhou) is an alligator farm with about 10,000 captive Chinese alligators.

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Huangshan: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Huangshan Mountain (320 kilometers southwest of Shanghai and 150 miles southwest of Nanjing) is considered one of the most beautiful spots in China. Located in a 154-square-kilometer national park by the same name, it embraces 72 peaks — the most famous of which are Lotus Peak (Lianhua Feng, 1,864 meters), Bright Peak (Guangming Ding, 1,860 meters) and Celestial Peak (Tiandu Feng, literally Capital of Heaven Peak, 1,829 meters) — whose misty, rocky crags have been the subject of some of China's most famous landscape paintings.

Called Mount Yishan in ancient times, Huangshan is usually translated to mean Yellow Mountain and is associated with the legendary Yellow Emperor who is said to have lived around 2200 B.C.. The name was given to it by the great 8th century, Tang Dynasty poet Li Bo. The mountains has been the inspiration for poets and even warriors as well as artists.. Designated as both a cultural and natural heritage UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, Huangshan has more than 400 famous scenic attractions, 140 of which have been developed and opened to tourists. Huangshan is one China's five most famous mountains along with Taishan (Mount Tai), Huashan (Mount Hua), Lushan (Mount Lu), Emeishan (Mount Emei) and Hengshan (Mount Heng).

Huangshan Mountain features 'four wonders': imposing peaks, spectacular rocks, odd-shaped pines and a sea of clouds. There are also strange rock formation, crystal-clear springs and numerous caves. The mountain — which more of a massif really — covers an area of 1,200 square kilometers, of which 154 square kilometers is in the park. Many of the odd-shaped pines and rock formations have intriguing names. The scenery is always changing as clouds roll in and out but blue skies are rare. Mist and haze are the norm. The scenery also changes with the seasons. In spring, the mountain is new with fresh and tender greens. In summer, shade is important. In autumn, the mountain comes alive with fall color. Snow and ice appear in the winter.

According to UNESCO: ”Mount Huangshan is renowned for its magnificent natural scenery which includes massive granitic boulders and ancient pine trees which are often further enhanced by cloud and mist effects. This dramatic landscape includes formations of natural stone pillars, grotesquely-shaped rocks, waterfalls, caves, lakes and hot springs, formed by its complex geological history. The property features numerous imposing peaks, 77 of which exceed an altitude of l,000 meters, with the highest, the famous Lianhua Peak (Lotus Flower Peak), reaching up to l,864 meters. Mount Huangshan became a magnet for hermits, poets and landscape artists, fascinated by its dramatic mountainous landscape consisting of numerous granitic peaks, many over 1,000 meters high, emerging through a perpetual sea of clouds. During the Ming Dynasty from around the 16th century, this landscape and its numerous grotesquely-shaped rocks and ancient, gnarled trees inspired the influential Shanshui (“Mountain and Water”) school of landscape painting, providing a fundamental representation of the oriental landscape in the world’s imagination and art.

“Mount Huangshan provides the habitat for a number of locally or nationally endemic plant species, several of which are globally threatened. Its outstandingly rich flora contains one-third of China's bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and over half of its pteridophytes (ferns). Species endemic to Huangshan include 13 species of pteridophytes and 6 species of higher plants, with many other species endemic to the region or to China. This exceptional flora is complemented by an important vertebrate fauna of over 300 species, including 48 mammal species, 170 birds, 38 reptiles, 20 amphibians and 24 fish. A total of 13 species are under state protection, including the Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa (VU) and the Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana (EN).”

Huangshan and Chinese Culture

According to UNESCO: Huangshan “was acclaimed through art and literature during a good part of Chinese history (e.g. the Shanshui 'mountain and water' style of the mid-16th century). Today it holds the same fascination for visitors, poets, painters and photographers who come on pilgrimage to the site, which is renowned for its magnificent scenery made up of many granite peaks and rocks emerging out of a sea of clouds.”

“Mount Huangshan, often described as the “loveliest mountain of China”, has played an important role in the history of art and literature in China since the Tang Dynasty around the 8th century, when a legend dated from the year 747 described the mountain as the place of discovery of the long-sought elixir of immortality. This legend gave Mount Huangshan its name and assured its place in Chinese history.

“The mountain was named Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) by imperial order in the year 747 and from that time on attracted many visitors, including hermits, poets and painters, all of whom eulogized the mountain’s inspirational scenery through painting and poetry, creating a rich body of art and literature of global significance. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), 64 temples were constructed on the mountain. In 1606, the monk Pumen came to Huangshan and built the Fahai Meditation Temple.

During the Ming Dynasty (from around the16th century) this landscape inspired the Shanshui (“Mountain and Water”) school of painting, whose masters included the artists Jian Jiang, Zha Shibiao, Mei Oing, Xugu, and Xue Zhuang. The most famous of all was Shi Tao whose essay “Comments on the paintings of the monk Bitter Pumpkin” is one of the most renowned works of Chinese literature. It is from these works of art and literature that the authenticity of Mount Huangshan can best be understood; the place of inspiration for some of the world’s greatest cultural achievements.

Visiting Huangshan

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Several million people visit Huangshan every year. Former President Jiang Zemin climbed Huangshan and wrote the poem, “Feelings on Climbing Huang Mountain,” which was published on the front page of the People's Daily, China's largest daily newspaper, and was included in student textbooks.

On the top of Huangshan are hotels, restaurants and houses. It is almost like a town up there. According to UNESCO: “The ancient temples (of which there are the remains of more than 20), the rock inscriptions and the pathways to them and to scenic viewpoints are also intact and well-maintained. Some 1,600 people live within the area, most of whom are staff and their dependants.

Three cable cars, including the longest in Asia, crisscross the mountains. It takes seven minutes to reach the upper reaches of the mountain via take a cable car, On foot the trip can take up to 10 hours. On one overlook people lock “longevity locks” — small, gold-colored padlocks on which lovers etch their names---to a railing as an expression of love and throw the keys over the edge.

One person posted on Tripadvsior in August 2015: “If you want to see the sunrise, and it is particularly foggy during the time which the sun should rise. This is normal, just wait around for a bit for other tourists to head back and the sun will come out, and you will get that magical Huangshan sunrise. If you are going to witness the famous Sea of Clouds, note that nearly 95 percent of all of the Sea of Cloud occurrences at Huangshan occur during the Winter, although this does not mean you will not encounter some awesome cloud phenomena. Also staying a night on the mountain if you can find a place is highly recommended. I thought I could most everything in one day but barely made it up the Western Steps with the crowds and caught a sunset. With two days you will be free to explore most of the mountain, and feel truly satisfied with your stay at Huangshan.”

Web Sites : Wikipedia Wikipedia Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; Maps of Huangshan: chinamaps.org ; UNESCO World Heritage Site site: : UNESCO Photos : pbase Pbase

Tourist Office: Huangshan Tourism Administration, 63 Yan’an Road Tunxi District, 245011 Huangshan, Anhui, China, tel. (0)-559-251-4019, fax: (0)- 559-251-4014 Admission: 230 yuan (March-November), 150 yuan (December-February) Maps: China Highlights China Highlights Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Tunxi, the closest town to Huangshan, is the main town in Huanshan city (which is actually like a district). It has a small airport and is connected by train and bus to other Chinese cities. Buses from Tunxi take about two hours to reach the Huangshan gate. Tunxi is 69 kilometers from Huangshan. You can take the minibus in Huangshan city to Tangkou town, and then transfer to the scenic sight bus to Huangshan Mountain. Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide Lonely Planet (click Getting There) Lonely Planet

Climbing Huangshan Mountain

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There are two main trails to the top of the Huangshan and numerous different routes up different peaks. The steep pathways and sets of stairs that serves as trails to the summits of Huangshan peaks are among of the most popular hiking routes in China. They are very steep and hard-going and can get quite crowded, especially on the weekend and holidays when busloads of Chinese tourists arive. Many visitors hike up and stay at lodges near Lotus Peak and hike up to the summit early in the morning before the clouds come in. The Heavenly Sea, a wide, flat peak with dips in the rock, and the Brightness Peak are also popular. The park also contains waterfalls, graceful pine trees, unusual rock formations, hot springs and many spectacular views.

A road, often choked with tour buses and cars, leads part way up the mountain to the main trail head, where there are numerous hotels and guesthouses. Some trails are so popular they have been closed due to overuse. Others are very scary. Some parts are so steep and narrow climbers must get down on all fours and cling to metal chains. If you don't fancy walking, you can be carried up in a sedan chair by porters for US$100. For US$1.60 someone will carry your backpack.

One person posted on Tripadvsior in August 2015: There are 3 main hiking routes: 1. The Eastern Steps. (2-5 hours) and 2). The Western Steps. (3-6 hours) are beautiful, and both are surprisingly long and steep, although worth it on your way up. If you are looking to avoid tourists, I recommend taking the eastern steps because they are also beautiful but have significantly fewer famous landmarks, which can be reached once you summit anyway. The Western Steps are prettier. Furthermore this route will lead you to see many famous Huangshan landmarks such as the Welcoming Pine, Lotus Peak, and Celestial Capital Peak. Because of this, many tour groups choose to take the trolley up the western steps.

3. The West Sea Canyon. (1-3 hours) is where you will probably have the most fun and find the most beautiful in your time in Huangshan. If you begin this trail from the Northern end it is a gorgeous, and definitely more adventurous, descent into the bottom of the West Sea Valley. After you have hiked down to the bottom, take the tram back up the top and you'll find yourself near the center of the top of the mountain (which is not too large). From there you can either hike or tram down.

Huangshan Development

According to UNESCO: The pressure of visitors is the most obvious factor affecting the property. Mount Huangshan is one of the most popular scenic landscapes in China, with annual visitation at 2.74 million and increasing at 8.96 percent per annum. Visitor numbers need to be stabilised. Other threats to the property include pine wood nematode pests; storm damage to trees, landslides, and dams; negligent acts by tourists (i.e. smoking, littering); and water shortages which increase fire hazards.

The park around Huangshan Mountain was privatized in the 1990s and was even listed on the Shanghai stock exchange and is 51.5 percent owned by Chinese and foreign shareholders. Profits come from entrance ticket sales and revenues from hotels, restaurants and gift shops. Privatization has been credited with reviving the park. When the government managed Huangshan, logging companies harvest trees in the park, the steams were polluted and according to one count 6,000 tons of trash accumulated on 44 miles of paths in the park. Since the park has been privatized forest cover has increased from 60 to 86 percent. A staff of 525 attendants picks up trash.

At Huashan laborers earn money by hauling supplies on their back up the mountain. They live in a US$6-a month room a the base of the mountain and typically get paid US$3 per trip for carrying a straw basket filled with 100pounds of supplies up steep steps and often dangerous trails. One laborer there told the Los Angeles Times, “On my first day I carried about 50 pounds and made US$1.80. Afterwards my back and legs were so sore I could hardly move. But they paid me in cash right away. That's better than any job I ever had." He had worked in the past making bricks and lost his arm in a coal mine accident. “Of course I get scared. But I keep my fears inside and don't dare look back. If I want to make a little money, I must keep going. So far this is the only place that give me the freedom to do that." They get paid more now.

Near Huangshan

Emerald Valley (northern side of Huangshan) is about six kilometers long and has more than 100 emerald ponds. During the day, as the sunlight moves, the ponds take on different colors, just like many emerald jades spreading over the valley. After sunset, the shadows of moon and mountain present another unique sight. The most famous scenic spots in the valley are Old Dragon Pool, Green Dragon Pool, Black Dragon Pool, White Dragon Pool and Emerald Pond Admission: 70 yuan. Getting There: bus from the bus station near the Huangshan railway station.

Tangyue Archway Group (southeast of Huangshan and northeast of Huangshan City in Tangyue Village of Fujie Township, Shexian County) is a key historical monument. There are seven memorial archways winding their various ways into a group, both simple and elegant. They are arranged in order of loyalty, filial peity, moral integrity and justice, with the last in the middle. Around the ancient memorial archways are the ancestral temples, old residential houses and ancient pabilions. The ancient architectural structures, coupled with the beauty of the countryside, have made this site a popular location for filming movies and television dramas.

Bao Family Garden (near Tangyue Archway Group) is a traditional Chinese private garden combining the typical ancient Huizhou-style with a potted landscape unique also to Huizhou. Known as the Mother of the Oriental Potted Landscape, the Garden has been formally applied for inclusion on the list of World Intangible Cultural Heritage Sites, as well as the Guinness Book of World Records. The Garden covers an area of 24 hectares and houses nearly 10,000 potted landscapes. The latter incorporates the finest examples of potted landscapes of different schools both at home and abroad, and abounds in rare plants from far and near. The Garden, with all its unique features, is the largest and most beautiful aristocratic manor of the Huizhou merchants.

Wuhu (in Anhui Province, 60 kilometers up river from Nanjing) is the home Chery, the Chinese car maker with ambitions of making it big in the United States. The city had 700,000 people in the early 2000s but was growing fast as car parts suppliers and auto-related businesses have began sprouting up. Wuhu sits in the east bank of the Yangtze. In 1876 it was declared a city where the British could engage in trade. The British responded by quickly opening a opium processing plant. In 1992, during the Deng era, Wuhu was declared a free trade city,

Web Sites: Travel China Guide Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Wuhu is accessible by air, bus train and Yangtze river boat.

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 2021


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