Located 68 kilometers northwest of the city of Chengdu and 16 kilometers southwest of the city of Dujiangyan in Sichuan Province, Mt. Qingchen has been an important Taoist site for centuries and is believed to be one of the places where Taoism was first born.
Covering 200 square kilometers, the scenic area of the mountain includes Mingjiang River, several peaks, with Laoxiao Ding Peak being the highest at 1260 meters above sea level, woods and several temples. The peaks stand in such position that resemble a natural city wall.
Divided into two main sections, Front Mountain and Back Mountain, Mt. Qingcheng is an ideal destination for those who are looking for combining historical sightseeing with nature related activities. It was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000 and was the inspiration site for the set of the famous animated movie Kung Fu Panda 2 by Dreamworks Studios.
Things to do
Although set in fascinating natural scenery, Front Mountain is mostly known for its historical and religious value. Once a pilgrim destination, it holds several Taoist and Buddhist temple sites and other historical relics and covers an area of 15 square kilometers. Some of the most important attractions include Tiansi Cave, Jianfugong Temple, Shangqinggong Temple, Yuqinggong Temple, Yuanminggong Temple, Zushi Temple, Laojunge Temple and Chaoyang Cave.
Tiansi Cave is supposed to be the place where Zhang Daoling, a famous Taoist teacher in Eastern Han Dynasty, came to preach. The altar, which was built during Tang Dynasty, houses statues of three legendary kings named Xuanyuan, Fuxi and Shennong and several ancient wooden and stone tablets. A stone statue of Zhang Daoling, dating back to Sui Dynasty, also stands in the cave’s site. A small singed path leading to the west will get you right at the entrance of the cave.
Initially built in 730, during Tang Dynasty, Jianfugong Temple complex consists of two halls, three courtyards, and nearby Yuanyun Pavilion.
The temple went through several reconstructions during the years. It is considered as one of the highlights of Mt. Qingcheng and the original structure used to be larger than the current remains. It is said that Ningfengzi, a character of Chinese mythology, spent some time in this temple. A stream passes by Jianfugong Temple which, along with lush greenery, makes the site a pleasant place to get some rest before you go on for more sightseeing.
Standing near the top of Mt. Qingcheng, Shangqinggon Temple is among the most well-known Taoist temples in the area. A series of steps can take you another 100 meters up to a platform on the top of the mountain, where you can have a bird’s eye view of the whole site. Although the temple was initially built during Jin Dynasty, the current structure dates back to Qing Dynasty and more specifically the period of reign of Emperor Tonzhi. The complex consists of a gate, a main hall, a side hall and Yuhuang building. The main hall houses an image of Taishanglaojun and wooden inscriptions of Taoist religious texts.
Back Mountain is situated 15 kilometers away from Front Mountain and is connected to it by a bus line. With much less historical interest, it is a good destination for hiking and meeting up with nature. Woods, streams, tea plantations and Five Dragons Gorge offer some peaceful moments and some fascinating views. A visit to Back Mountain is the best way to relax in a calming natural environment after sightseeing at Front Mountain.