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  Mt. Hengshan


  Ladies and Gentlemen,dear friends,

  Good morning. Welcome to Mt. Hengshan, lying in the central south of Hunan Province; Mt. Hengshan is one of the five sacred mountains of China. It has been placed on the Official List of the First Key Chinese Scenic Areas and has also been designated a First 4A Chinese Sightseeing Destination. Finally, it is the only place in Hunan to be ranked among China's Pilot Civilized Scenic Areas-the only representative from Hunan in this regard. Picturesque in scenery, Mt. Hengshan abounds with cultural sites and tops the other four sacred mountains in scenic beauty, thereby earning itself a title of Chinese Mountain of Longevity.

  Mt. Hengshan leads the rest of sacred mountains in fame. Its outstanding qualities are attributable to its enchanting scenes, varied species, and imposing appearance.

  Billed as the leader of the five sacred mountains, Mt. Hengshan boasts charming and beautiful natural scenery. While exploring Mt. Hengshan, you will see wooded hills, vying with one another for beauty, hovering clouds and bubbling streams. No wonder it is popularly said of this mountain that “At every turn, a tourist comes in view of a different picture, experiencing a kaleidoscope of sights”. Mt. Hengshan has more beautiful views than the eye can take in. The most famous is the “Four Grand Sights of Mt. Hengshan”, consisting of the Hall of Scriptures, known for its beauty, the Fangguang Temple, known for its depth, Zhurong Peak, known for its height, and Water Beads Cavern, known for its quaintness.

  Mt. Hengshan has a subtropical monsoon climate with high humidity. With a long frost-free season, a short freezing season and heavy precipitation, it has cool summers and cold winters. Usually foggy and windy, it features periodic changes in temperature. A green landscape of wooded hills is attributable to its ideal natural condition. Four-fifths of Mt. Hengshan is covered with forests and some 1,700 tree species can be found growing on its slopes. The mountain covers an area of 20,000 hectares 3,800 hectares of which are secondary virgin forests. It is a heavenly sanctuary for rare wild animals such as golden pheasants, bamboo partridges, and flat-breast turtles with big heads and pangolins.

  Towering over the surrounding plains, Mt. Hengshan soars into the air straight from the South Hunan Basin, thereby forming a number of spectacular sights. Its scenery features four seas: a sea of flowers in spring, clouds in summer, sunrise in autumn and snow in winter. The clouds over Mt. Hengshan are especially worth mentioning. Like Mt. Huangshan’s pines, the clouds over Mt. Hengshan have been viewed and talked about with great relish since ancient times. The mountain’s enchanting clouds have the following characteristics. Firstly, they vary in shape from season to season: during spring the clouds are like quilts; during summer they resemble feathers, during the autumn they resemble waterfalls, and during the winter they are as dark as ink. Secondly, the gathering clouds sometimes spring up or hang how like mushrooms after the rain, taking on a peculiar look. Thirdly, the wind mixes with the scudding clouds, rising from mountains in early morning or at dusk, blowing through the pine forests over tourists’ faces. A deep rumbling sound of pine trees sounds frightening in the distance. Coming nearer, it gets fainter and fainter, removing tourists’ fears. No wonder ancient Chinese eulogized them, saying “a sea of clouds reverberates in our hearts”.

  Mt. Hengshan not only has beautiful scenic sights but also abounds with cultural sites. It is the treasure house of Chinese culture, renowned as the “Civilized Museum of Great Learning”. Throughout all Chinese dynasties, emperor, princes, and celebrities paid their tributes to the mountain; men of letters, poets, scholars paid their visits to it, leaving behind them steles, temples, and poems at Mt. Hengshan; they made great contributions to turning it into the priceless treasure house of Chinese culture and making it a famed mountain of Human culture.

  In line with famous saying, “Monks take up their abode in most of famed mountains”, Mt. Hengshan is not only a mountain of scenic beauty, but also a sacred religious mountain. Unlike other famous religious mountains, it embraces both Buddhism and Taoism which exist side-by-side and complement each other here.

  The Ancient Town of Nanyue

  A little further from the Archway of Mount Hengshan and we arrive at the ancient town of Nanyue. No one knows for sure when the town came into existence. We do know that it was a boom town as early as the Tang Dynasty. The millennia-old flagstone road you are traveling on is well trodden, looking polished and glossy. Leather shoes clank on it as if a robed monk beats his wooden block chanting scriptures, striking a deep chord in pilgrims' hearts.

  The streets in the town are all paved with stone slabs. They are lined with two-storied protruding houses of equal size. Whitewashed and glazed in red, the houses have upturned eaves, roofs carved with dragons and painted with phoenixes. The houses are kept as they were, lending a primitive simplicity to the town. A joss stick bought in a store or a cup of tea sipped in a roadhouse can provide tourists with either a new experience, such as imbibing a bit of profound Buddhism, or give them an aftertaste of traditional Chinese culture. More interestingly, there is an endless arcade on either side of a street. Therefore, you may roam along street without carrying an umbrella in rainy days.

  Though small in size, Nanyue ancient town is self-sufficient with restaurants, hotels, incense and general stores, temples and studies smelling of ink. It is worth mentioning the restaurants here, offering local specialties such delicious wild mushrooms, the unique tasting Mt. Hengshan bean curd, and nutritious mountain bamboo shoots. The local specialties are mouth watering in taste. To make your trip here perfect, you should have a taste of the special dishes in Mt. Hengshan, which are as famous as Xi'an bread filled with lamb, Tianjin fried dough sticks, and Chongqing chafing dishes.

  Walking past the flagstone streets of long duration, living quarters with a long history, and soul-purifying temples and incense altars, aren't you enlightened? After a visit here, don't you have a special feeling for Nanyue? Much more thought for life? Therein lies the beauty of this ancient town.

  The Grand Temple of Nanyue

  Beyond the North Street, the landscape opens up to a wide vista. In sight is a magnificent ancient building complex. Standing before us is the largest ancient palace complex in Southern China. The Grand Temple is an ancient building complex of pagan, Buddhist, and Taoist temples and residential palaces. It is the largest religious building complex in Southern China and the country's five sacred mountains. The present temple complex, which is nine sections deep, has four courtyards, eight Buddhist temples, and eight Taoist temples. It covers an area of 98,500 square meters, and is 375 meters deep, 139 meters wide in the outer section, and 174 meters wide in the inner section. It is partitioned off in the Confucian style of architecture: eight Taoist temples on the eastern side and eight Buddhist temples on the westem side. This is the only temple in the world, embracing Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in one place of worship.

  The Temple to Martyrs

  Located at the foot of the Fragrant Incense Peak, the Nanyue Temple to Martyrs is billed as one of the earliest and largest historical sites in China commemorating the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. It is the only big mausoleum left behind on the mainland by the Guomindang Nationalist Government honoring revolutionary fighters during this conflict. Planning for the mausoleum's construction began in 1938 and it was completed in 1943. Modeled on Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum in Nanjing, it was built on a hillside, facing north with a symmetrical layout. It has five component parts: the archway, the monument, the memorial hall, the stone tablet of tributes and the tomb site. Some of commanders and soldiers of the Ninth and sixth Theaters of Operation are buried here. The site is now placed on the official list of Chinese National Heritage Sites.

  The Temple to Martyrs' front gate is a marble archway of three arches and a single tier of eaves. A horizontal beam hangs over the archway, inscribed with the title, “The Nanyue Temple to Martyrs”. These glistening words were handwritten by Xue Yue, the then governor of Hunan Provincial Government of the Nationalist Party and commander in chief of the Ninth Theater of Operations.

  Upon entering the archway, you find yourselves in a flat open square. Some of the tourists may ask out of curiosity why Mt. Hengshan was chosen for burying martyrs out of such a big country as China. We need to give some background information concerning the burial site. Soon after the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression broke out, northern China, eastern China and southern China mostly fell into enemy 's hands. As a result, the central government of the Nation-alist Party moved to Chongqing and Mt. Hengshan became one of the fighting fronts against the Japanese imperialist forces. In November, 1938, Jiang Kaishek, called a top-level military conference in Mt. Hengshan. Zhou Enlai and Ye Jianying attended the conference as representatives of the Chinese Communist Party. After hearing the war reports given by military commanders of various theaters of operations, Jiang Kai shek, realizing so many officers and soldiers had died and were unburied in battlefields, ordered their immediate burial. After a discussion, it was agreed at the conference that the Temple to Martyrs and the Cemetery of Martyrs should be built in Nanyue. The central government contributed the largest sum of money for this project, with other funds coming from the Ninth and Sixth Theaters of Operations and contributions made by people from all walks of life. The remains of dead officers and soldiers, therefore, were buried and their bodies were laid to rest here. That is how the Temple to martyrs originated.

  At the center of the square stands an odd-looking statue. It is the Monument of Lugou Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937. It is composed of five upside-down stone shells . They stand for the five Chinese nationalities: the Hans, the Mans, the Mongolians, the Huis and the Tibetans. Inscribed on three sides of the marble statue , were two bold words ‘July 7’, symbolic of Lugou Bridge Incident which brought in united resistance against Japanese aggression. The shells in an upside-down position, pointing to the blue sky and the sun, symbolize Chinese resistance against Japanese aggression.

  After a visit to the Monument in Commemoration of Lugou Bridge Incident, you are taken to the Memorial Hall, the third section of the Temple to Martyrs. The present horizontal board was inscribed with bold words handwr-itten by Qu Wu, ex-chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Nationalist Party. In the center of the memorial hall stands a marble stele, 6 meters high, inscribed with “the History of the Memorial Hall in the Nanyue Temple to Martyrs”, written by General Xue Yue, giving an account of the historical background and construction of the hall. Exhibition displays are on each side of the hall devoted to photographs, paintings, and historical literature regarding Nanyue and the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

  The back door of the hall leads to two rows of stone steps upward on the moun-tainside. Its 276 steps represent the 276 officers and soldiers who died in the War Resisting Japanese Aggression. A patch of wooded land between two rows of steps was set aside for displaying touching words, “Eternal Glory to National Martyrs”, “Nation, the Rights of People, the Livelihood of People”. There are nine flights of steps.

  Walking up the steps, we arnve at the tomb site, the last but ceftainly not the least important building in the Temple to the Martyrs. Over the front door hangs a big horizontal board inscribed with bold words, “Temple to Martyrs”, handwritten by Jiang Kaishek. Please have a close examination of the words on the board. Have you found anything special about the words?

  Walking out of the tomb site, you come in view of mounds on either side of the tomb site. This is a cemetery for the martyrs who died in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. Covering an area of over 13 hectares, the cemetery has seven group tombs burying the dead of the 60th division of 37th Army and 19th division of 70th Army, as well as ten personal tombs burying generals such as Hu Heyun and Zheng Zuomin. The tombs lie hidden from sight under pine and cypress trees, some stately, others standing tall and erect, still others arranged in lines and the rest looking up into the sky. Veiled in respectful silence for the dead, the cemetery looks solemn and grave.

  The Zhurong Peak

  The Zhurong Peak is the highest peak of the seventy two peaks in Mt. Hengshan, 1,290 meters above sea level. The lofty Zhurong Peak is in marked contrast to the low-lying South Hunan Basin and seems to reach into the clouds. The peak commands a bird's eye view of South Hunan. The Zhurong Temple stands atop the Zhurong peak. Built on a giant rock, the temple is broken down into two component sections. The temple is roofed with tin-plated tiles, each 0. 6 meter long, 0. 3 meter wide and 15 kilograms in weight. Dozens of the tiles were cast in the Song Dynasty Imperial Foundry. The tiles are not rusty and look shiny after a thousand years of use. You may ask out of curiosity why were tin-plated tiles used for roofing? The building architecture shows great originality and distinctive features of its own. Look around and you find only a few low trees growing sparsely at the peak. Category 4 and 5 storms blowing over the peak all year round are to blame for this. If the temple had not been roofed with tin-plated tiles, its roof would have been blown away by these typhoon force winds.

  Walking out of a small stone door on the right side of the temple, one finds a stone terrace with such inscriptions as “A Skyline View of the World” and “Beating Anyone in Height”. This is the Moon-viewing Terrace, the highest point in Mt. Hengshan. Looking over railings at the hanging moon, one may feel like standing high above clouds, getting closer to the moon, having entered the heavenly gate, being instantly relaxed and happy.




  衡山属中亚热带季风性湿润气候,无霜期长,冰冻期短,具有夏凉冬寒、雨量充沛、雾多风大、气温垂直变化明显等特点。良好的自然条件造就了衡山无山不树、无处不绿的特色景观。南岳衡山共拥有600多科、1700多种树木,风景林面积达2万公顷,原始次生林面积达3 800公顷,森林覆盖率高达80%以上,与之相伴的还有珍稀的野生动物锦鸡、竹鸡、大头平胸龟、穿山甲等,可以称得上是一座天然的生物资源宝库。