Hengshan Mountain, Mt. Hengshan, also known as Southern Heights Mountain (Nanyue shan), is located in Hengyang City,South Central China's Hunan Province.The mountain range runs 150 km from Hengyang to Changsha. Hengshan Mountain is one of the five sacred Buddhist mountains in China, although much of the mountain is also dedicated to Taoist belief.The mountain of Hengshan extends for 80 kilometers and there are a total of 72 peaks in all, the highest of which, the Wishing for Harmony Peak (Zhurong feng), rises to 1,298 meters above sea level. For a long time, Mount Hengshan is acknowledged as a holy place of religions, the Civilization Special Area, the Shou Mountain and the most scenic mount of the Five Sacred Mountains in China. Besides, this mountain is awarded the National Scenic Spots and the Historical Sites, a model of National Civilized Scenic spots and the AAAAA Tourist Destination.
Beautiful Natural Scenery
Mount Hengshan has always been a favorite destination, a summer resort and leisure place for tourists for its religious reputation and gorgeous landscapes. More than 1,200 kinds of plants, 9 primitive forests, and more than 150 kinds of precious trees were identified in the area. The Four Wonders of Mount Hengshan: Zhurong Peak, Water Curtain Cave, Fangguang Temple and Sutra Collection Hall are famous for their height, oddity, depth and elegance separately. Mount Hengshan is pleasant for tourists all round the year. They can appreciate exotic flowers in spring, amazing cloud sea in summer, grand sunrise in autumn and flying snow flakes in winter.
Famous Religious Holy Place
Both Buddhism and Taoism coexist in Mount Hengshan, which forms the chief religious feature of the mount. Historically, Buddhism and Taoism practice in Mount Hengshan are of great importance. As early as in the late East Han Dynasty (25AD-225AD), Taoists had started their practice in the blessing spots in Mount Hengshan. The Tang Dynasty (618AD-917AD) witnessed the prosperities of ten large Taoist temples and eight hundred bamboo houses. Many Taoists at that time were those with high culture cultivation and profound metaphysics. They wrote books and developed theories of their own. Buddhism was introduced to Mount Hengshan about 200 years later. From 421AD, the second year after the establishment of the South Dynasty (420AD-589AD), large groups of famous monks appeared in Mount Hengshan. They followed rituals sacredly and gradually formed principles of their own, of which the Tiantai Sect (Principles of the Lotus Sutra) was most influential and had been spread to as far as Japan. Additionally, Buddhists in Mount Hengshan also developed the Weiyang Sect, Linji Sect, Caodong Sect, Yunmen Sect, and Fayan Sect, the five principles in the development process of Buddhism in Chinese history. Each had significant influence on religious practice in Southeast Asia and even the whole world.
Civilization Special Area
Mount Hengshan has a long and profound history. Most of the legendary emperors in ancient China had connection with Mount Hengshan. For example, Emperor Yan, Emperor Huang, Emperor Yao, Emperor Shun, and Emperor Yu were said to have visited the mountain, demonstrating the importance of Mount Hengshan in the history of China. Mount Hengshan gradually became a center of religious practice in south China when Taoism and Buddhism were introduced to Mount Hengshan successively. With the passage of the Song Dynasty, more than 20 academies were established in this area, forming a unique academy culture of schooling. The emerging Huxiang School can find its origin in this mountain. Even today, influence of these philosophical thinking can be identified in modern schools. It was the vice minister Guan Daxun of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1683) who had first approved the favorite place of Mount Hengshan for its combination of civilization and special area.
Shou Mountain of China
The Shou Culture (Longevity Culture) of Mount Hengshan can be dated back to records of Xingjing (the earliest great work of astronomy in the world): Mount Hengshan corresponds to the Zhen Star of the 28 Star Mansions, a star in charge of the life span of being in the world; therefore Mount Hengshan derived the name of Shou Mount. Emperor Huizong (the eighth emperor of Song Dynasty) inscribed the two characters of Shou Mountain for the massive stone carve. The two characters can still be seen in the Emperor Rock of Jinjian Peak. The poem On Restoring the Temple Stone of Mount Hengshan written by Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722) stated that Mount Hengshan is a giant town in south China, which corresponds to the North Star Yuheng, hence the name Shou Mountain.
What to see in Hengshan Mountain ?
Hengshan, named the Southern Mountain of the Five Sacred Mountains, is located in Hengyang County. It has 72 peaks, and extends 150 kilometers, with over 1200 kilometers in circumference. Huiyan Peak is the southernmost peak, while Yuelu Mountain in Changsha city is the northernmost. Zhurong Peak is the highest at 1,290 meters above sea level. On the top of this peak, a Shaolin Temple and a sunrise viewing platform are the best scenic spots. Besides marvelous temples, the mountain also boasts 9 ponds, 9 wells, 9 pools, 10 caves, 15 rocks formations, 25 streams and 38 springs.
As early as 2,000 years ago, many emperors and scholars, including famous poets Li Bai, Du Fu and Zhu Xi, visited Hengshan and inscribed their poems in the mountain. With its beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage, the mountain attracts travelers both home and abroad.
The biggest temple in the mountain is the Nanyue Temple, which is the largest group of ancient buildings in Hunan Province, covering an area of 100,000 square meters.Among the temples in the mountain, the Fuyan Temple is known as the nation’s "First Temple of Buddhist Doctrine", with a maidenhair tree of 1,400 years old; the Nantai Temple has a history of over 1,400 years and is regarded as the origin of a Buddhist branch in Japan; the Tripitaka Temple, famous for its delicacy and enfeoffed Confucian classics, is surrounded by such oddly-shaped ancient trees like Money Tree, Tree of Love, etc., and many historic sites like Shushing Tai and Diary Tai and Yinchuan Pavilion. The Fangguang Temple, which is quiet with a forest of ancient trees, and the Water-Screen Cave, which is mysterious, are all spots of interest. The renowned Four Wonders of the Southern Mountain are, namely, the loftiness of Zhurong Peak, the delicacy of Tripitaka Temple, the quietness of Fangguang Temple and the mystery of Water-screen Cave.
Nanyue Temple is the largest group of ancient buildings in Hunan Province, covering an area of 100,000 square meters. The temple came into existence as early as the Sui Dynasty (581-618 A. D.), demonstrating the wisdom and intelligence of the people of ancient times. It is composed of many monasteries in and outside the main hall, which are splendorous, magnificent, delicate and precise in layout. Eight Taoist monasteries and the eight Buddhism temples stand on both sides of the Great Temple. It is shared by believers of local gods, Buddhism, and Taoism. The temple, which is glazed in red and yellow, is linked with many other buildings, creating a grand palace complex. Lingxing Gate, the main opening of Nanyue Temple, is 20-meter-high. The main hall, known as Shendi Hall, is 22 meters high, supported by 72 stone pillars, which symbolize the 72 peaks of the mountain. The center of the hall contains a figure to represent the Nanyue God Emperor. Past the main hall is a mausoleum which contains sitting figures of a Patron Father and Patron Mother. On the sides there are two halls, Zhusheng Hall, which is Taoist, and Xiashen Hall, a Buddhist hall.
It is a well-known Buddhist temple built in the ancient style of the South Chen Dynasty (568 BC). The temple is approximately 400 square meters in size, and its roof, which is covered in glazed tiles, shines brightly in the sunlight. It is surrounded by oddly-shaped ancient trees, such as the Money Tree and the Tree of Love. It also contains many historic sites like Shuzhuang Pavilion and Yunchun Pavilion.
It is located at the foot of the Lotus Peak of Nanyue Mountain. It was first built to preach Buddhism by a Huihai, a Zen master during the Liang Dynasty in 503 BC. In front of the temple, there is a stream where it is said that Huihai once cleaned his clothes. To the left of the temple, there is a deep pool with a stone over 30 meters high in the middle of the pool. A spring flows out of the stone, forming a wide waterfall over 10 meters high. The temple is surrounded by numerous ancient and precious trees, thus creating the quiet atmosphere.
Transport: From Changsha take a train or a bus directly to Hengshan. From Hengyang train, bus and taxi can also take you there.
Admission: CNY 258
Favorite season to travel: All-year around