Taking Beauty to New Heights in China: What Stunning Sights Emerge on Huangshan and its Bridge of Immortals?

Taking Beauty to New Heights in China: What Stunning Sights Emerge on Huangshan and its Bridge of Immortals?

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Huangshan (written in the Han script as 黄山, and literally translated as ‘Yellow Mountain’) is a mountain range located in the southern part of Anhui Province, in the eastern region of China. This mountain range is well known for its picturesque landscape, which is often considered to be the most beautiful in China. Apart from its natural scenery, Huangshan is also renowned for its Bridge of Immortals, which is dubbed by certain sources as the “world’s highest bridge”.

Huangshan, One of China’s Most Magical Mountains

A travel writer by the name of Xu Xiake, who lived during the Ming Dynasty, wrote that “薄海内外之名山,无如徽之黄山。登黄山,天下无山,观止矣!”, which may be more or less translated as follows, “Whilst there are many famous mountains, there is none like Huangshan. Having ascended Huangshan, there are no more mountains under Heaven, the viewing (of other mountains) stops”. This quote later became “五岳归来不看山,黄山归来不看岳”, which roughly means “Having seen the Five Great Mountains, one does not see other mountains; having seen Huangshan, one does not see the Five Great Mountains”.

Landscape of Mount Huangshan, China.

Landscape of Mount Huangshan, China. (Chi King/ CC BY 2.0 )

Huangshan has an important place in Chinese history and culture. For instance, a legend dating to 747 AD, when China was ruled by the Tang Dynasty, states that this was the place where the elixir of immortality was discovered.

Apart from hermits seeking immortality, Huangshan also attracted scores of Chinese poets and artists over the centuries, who hoped to be inspired by the mountain’s breath-taking landscape. It was during the Ming Dynasty, more specifically around the 16th century, that the landscape, rocks and trees of Huangshan served as inspirations for an influential Chinese school of landscape painting known as 山水 (pronounced as ‘shan shui’, which means ‘mountain and water’). It is thanks to this school that a fundamental representation of oriental landscape painting found its way into the art and imagination of the world.

An ink painting depicting Huangshan in China, by Shitao, 1670.

An ink painting depicting Huangshan in China, by Shitao, 1670. ( Public Domain )

Special Sights in Eastern China: The Four Wonders of Huangshan

Huangshan is famed for the ‘Four Wonders of Huangshan’, namely, its ancient pines, rock formations, sea of clouds touching the mountainsides, and hot springs. Many of the pines on Huangshan are more than 1000 years old, and, due to the mountainous terrain, have not been able to grow upright. As a result, these trees are crooked and twisted, yet beautiful to behold.

Rocky Gate and trees in Huangshan mountains, Anhui, China.

Rocky Gate and trees in Huangshan mountains, Anhui, China. (Arne Hückelheim/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

As for the rock formations, exposure to the elements over time has produced many bizarrely-shaped rocks. Visitors to the mountain may discern various real or mythical creatures in these formations.

Rock formations and mountains at Huangshan, China. Visitors to the mountain may discern various real or mythical creatures in the rock formations.

Rock formations and mountains at Huangshan, China. Visitors to the mountain may discern various real or mythical creatures in the rock formations. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

It is during the winter that the sea of clouds may be best viewed at Huangshan. As the clouds are often lower than the peaks of the mountains, the mountaintops look as though they are islands floating in a sea of mists.

When the clouds roll in the mountaintops look as though they are islands floating in a sea of mists.

When the clouds roll in the mountaintops look as though they are islands floating in a sea of mists. ( CC BY SA 4.0 ) Huangshan, China.

Finally, the natural hot springs may be used by visitors to relax after climbing the mountain. Huangdi, a legendary Chinese Emperor said to be the ancestor of the Chinese people, is believed to have bathed in one of these springs for 49 days before becoming an immortal and ascending to Heaven.

A colorful pond at the foot of Huangshan, China.

A colorful pond at the foot of Huangshan, China. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

The Bridge of Immortals, A Chinese Fairyland Bridge

Huangshan is also known for its Bridge of Immortals, which is known also as the ‘Fairyland Bridge’. This bridge passes through two tunnels hewn out of the rock of two adjacent mountains, and is suspended over a narrow gorge. This bridge, which is made of stone, is ornately carved. There are many steps and steep cliffs to climb before one reaches this bridge. Nevertheless, one who had reached the Bridge of Immortals will be rewarded with an unparalleled view of the surrounding area.               

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