Mt. Qingcheng, located in the southwest of the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project of China in Sichuan Province, is one of the most famous Taoist mountains in China. Many people see this area as the birth place of Taoism. It is also a very attractive and intriguing scenic spot that is covered by luxuriant and verdant trees. The mountain, which is surrounded by numerous peaks and is shaped like a city, is dubbed ‘the most peaceful and secluded mountain under heaven’ and combines perfectly with its evergreen scenery. It is no surprise, then, that it is listed as an UNESCO heritage site.
The Mt. Qingcheng can be divided into two parts: the so-called Qingcheng Front Mountain and the Qingcheng back mountain.
Qingcheng Back Mountain
This is the main part of the scenic spot, covering an area of approximately 15 square kilometers (about 3706 acres) that possesses alluring natural beauty and an abundance of cultural relics and historic sites. Among them, the Jianfu Palace, the Shangqing Palace, and the Tianshi Cave are some of the most famous destinations which you are bound to be engrossed by. We should mention that the Back Mountain is a tougher hike than the Front Mountain, but certainly worth the walk. If you don’t want to walk all the way up, you can choose to take the cable car. The cable car will first bring you to halfway the mountain. Here you can choose to take another cable car that will bring you to the top or you may enjoy the scenery while walking upwards. Be aware, that the cable car closes at 5 pm.
Qingcheng Front Mountain
The Front Mountain used to be a pilgrim destination and therefore you will find several Taoist and Buddha sites in this area. Looking up at Mt. Qingcheng from its foot, you will see that Laojun Pavilion is located on the highest peak, which is known as Pengzu Peak, it is also called Laoxiao Peak, which has an elevation of over 1,260 meters (4,134 feet).
As you begin to climb up Mt. Qingcheng you will discover the Jianfu Palace, which was originally constructed in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was restored on several other occasions through the years. Now, two temples and three compounds also exist here, surrounded by lush ancient vegetation. In front of the Jianfu Palace, a lucid stream winds its way, adding more beauty to the whole environment. Going west for one kilometer (about 0.6 mile), visitors will suddenly be presented with a wooden pavilion that protrudes between a profusion of trees and steep rocks. As a result, most of visitors will have misconception impressions that they are in a large natural painting.
Going west, you will arrive at the Tianshi Cave. It is the major temple here. In the cave, a stone statue in the style of Sui Dynasty (581-618), proudly stands of Zhang Tianshi (the Celestial Master Zhang) who is worshipped. According to the legend, Zhang Daoling, later known as Zhang Tianshi, cultivated himself and preached here around the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). Hence, Zhang Tianshi is known as the founder of Taoism on Mt. Qingcheng. We also recommend that you visit the three other buildings that exist in this area – the Sanhuang Palace, the Sanqing Palace and also the Huangdi Temple. The Sanqing Palace, the main hall of the Tianshi Cave, worships the three supreme deities in Taoism; while in the Sanhuang Palace, the stone statues of Fuxi, Shennong and Huangdi (the Three Sovereigns of legendary rulers of China in remote antiquity) are worshipped.
Then, leaving the Tianshi Cave and crossing the Fangning Bridge, visitors will arrive at the Zushi Palace which is preserved from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). By continuing along the path, visitors will reach the next famous temple – the Shangqing Palace, and one by one a series of natural scenery and revered buildings of Taoism will present themselves to visitors. The Shangqing Palace was originally built in the Jin Dynasty; however, only a part of the buildings that were constructed in the Qing Dynasty remain. Fortunately, it is still an attractive sight where you can enjoy the unique natural scenery and historic heritages of China.
By visiting Mt. Qingcheng, visitors will be able to savor the pleasure of the perfect combination of the unique landform, moderate climate, natural beauty and cultural relics and historic sites of Taoism in this area.