2013-01-15 11:30 ChineseTime

Travel to China--cāng yán shān
                              苍    岩    山  

Mt Cangyan Scenic Area, with an altitude of 1,000 meters, is located 80 kilometers southwest of Shijiazhuang City, capital of Hebei Province. With a long history, and covering an area of 63 square kilometers, the area is characterized by grotesque stones, verdant cypress trees, temples and pagodas. Like a bright pearl nestled in the Taihang Mountains, it is a famous scenic area that integrates tourism, recreation, health-building and scientific research.

Besides being a resort for sightseeing and traveling, Mt Cangyan is also a famous mountain of Buddhist culture. It is said that Princess Nanyang, the oldest daughter of Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), once entered the religion here and became a Buddhist nun.

Construction and repairs during various dynasties from the Sui period until now yielded temples, parks and recreation areas, such as the Fuqing Temple, the Temple of SleepingBuddha, the Longyan Temple, the Princess' Tomb, the Peak of Bodhisattva, the Peak of the Jade Emperor , the Ruantai Hilltop, and so on.

Its rich landscapes, imposing mountain peaks, grotesque stones, tranquil valleys, ancient trees and limpid springs create unique, quiet and beautiful natural scenery. The thousand-year-old temples and excellent architectural arts bring visitors a rare aesthetic experience, believed to "possess all the elegance and grotesqueness of the Five Sacred Mountains in China".

The uncanny workmanship of these natural formations boasts bizarre precipices and cliffs, as well as a prime biological environment in the central part of the Mt Cangyan Scenic Area. From a bird's-eye view, the eastern and western peaks stand facing each other, and a south-north mountain ridge runs across background of the two peaks. Nestled in the undulant ridges and peaks in the scenic area are numerous temples, pavilions and stone tablets, which are mainly cultural relics from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

Mt Cangyan was designated by the State Council in China as one of the key scenic resorts under national protection in 1988, and as a historic and cultural mountain with an admirable architecture, bizarre wingceltis (Pteroceltis tatarinowii), grand mountains, quiet valleys and beautiful forests in 1994. In 1999, the site ranked as one of the top 10 famous scenic areas in Shijiazhuang city by experts. Many scenes from the Oscar-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , directed by Ang Lee, were shot in this very spot.

16 scenic sights--16景(jǐng) 点(diǎn)
The natural scenery and manmade architecture in the Mt Cangyan Scenic Area were classified by the ancients as the 16 scenic sights: The shield-like peaks and serried green woods in distant hills are called "Greens Locked Inside the Cliff Barrier," and the babbling brooks laid out before the mountain with swimming fish are known as "Wind Springs Rinsing the Jade." Other scenic sights include the peaceful "Noon Shade Inside the Academy", "Sacred Sandalwood Besides Limpid Brook" with various roots, "Climbing Up Cloud Ladder," which features a magnificent skyline, "Flying Rainbow Over the Bridge Tower", "A Pearl Embedded in Steep Cliffs", and so on.

Fuqing Temple--福(fú) 庆(qìng) 寺(sì)
Fuqing Temple, first built in the Sui Dynasty, is the magnum opus of the ancient structures at Mt Cangyan. It is said that it was the place where Princess Nanyang, the daughter of Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty, practiced Buddhism . This temple, magnificent and grand in structure, comprises Qianlou Hall, the Temple of Princess Nanyang, Mt Cangyan College, Wanxian Hall, Fenghui Hall, Make-Up Tower and Peak of the Jade Emperor. Making good use of topography, these remarkable masterpieces of China's ancient temple architecture stand upright on the cliff, summit, or in the valley. Qiaolou Hall (Bridge-Tower Hall) is the main structure of Fuqing Temple. Situated on a stone-arched bridge that spans the cliffs, the hall is 70 meters above ground and looks majestic and astonishing. Under the bridge, more than 360 stone stairs resembling a "heavenly ladder" lead up to the mountain summit.

Religious culture at Mt Cangyan
The most famous mountains are identified with numerous monks. And Mt Cangyan is no exception. Temples, such as the Dragon-cliff Temple, Temple of the Sleeping Buddha, Fuqing Temple, the Peak of the Jade Emperor, etc, can be found at the foot of the mountain, the mountainside, on its peaks, narrow or wide points, or even its cliffs.

Over the past thousands of years, Wutai Mountain has been regarded as a famous Buddhist mountain, and Wudang Mountain , as a famous Taoist mountain. At Cangyan Mountain, both Buddhism and Taoism are practiced and coexist.

As mentioned above, Fuqing Temple, originally called "Xingshan Temple", was the place where Princess Nanyang, the daughter of Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty, once practiced Buddhism. During the reign of Dazhong Xiangfu of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Emperor Zhenzong named the temple "Fuqing", which may have originated from "Qian Zi Wen" ("The Thousand-Character Essay") by Zhou Xingsi of the Southern Dynasty (420-589) -- the world's oldest and most influential existing teaching resource that imparts elementary knowledge to beginners of Buddhism.

Bridge-Tower Hall is one of China's three great hanging temples . Spanning the cliffs between two mountains, the stone bridge is about 15 meters long and 9 meters wide. It is said that the bridge was built by the skilful artisan Lu Ban of the State of Lu, a figure later deified by Taoism. Master Lu piled up haystacks in the mountain stream to build arches, and constructed the "heavenly bridge" with 22 arches. Having completed the bridge, Lu burnt off the haystacks to reveal the stone bridge. The legend is rich in Taoist symbolism.



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