Huangcang Valley, also known as Emperor Hideout Valley, is a part of the Shandong Hills that run north to south. Its highest altitude is 374 meters with an average altitude of 100 to 300 meters; the hilltops are quite flat while the hillsides are relatively steep. The valley was once called Huangsang Valley (meaning Yellow Mulberry Valley) because there are many yellow mulberry trees growing on the hills.
Its alternative name of Emperor Hideout Valley comes from the legend that says Emperor Liu Bang, or Gaozu, of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220) once hid there in order to escape from an attack by the Qin armies. As well, it was recorded in the ancient book, Han Shu, that “When Gaozu, emperor of the Han Dynasty, was still a humble man, he retreated to the Mangshan Mountains and Dangshan Mountains.”
Ruiyun Temple, originally named Huangsang Temple, was built on the mountain side, with its back to the cliffs, facing the deep valleys. Its construction started in the Jin Dynasty (265-420) and was later reconstructed in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).The buildings inside the complex are dived into 3 sections and 3 courtyards, which comprise more than 90 rooms. The beautiful forecourt is the Depositary of Buddhist Texts, which is full of carved beams and painted rafters. The main palace has a wide, open yard with tall figures of the Buddha. Dormitories for the monks are in the backyard. A large ginkgo tree, which is more than 1,300 year old, still stands in the forecourt, and in the backyard, there are many ancient cypresses.
Emperor Hideout Cave and the Rock “Flying from Afar to the Cave”
There is a natural stone cave about 100 meters southwest from Ruiyun Temple. The cave is situated in a dangerously steep spot, and visitors must climb about 130 meters to get there. The floor is flat and the walls are smooth, and the top of the cave looks like a roof. The 10 meters deep cave was entirely naturally formed and is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Standing at the entrance, one can see the green mountains in the distance and the running rivers in the valley.
At the entrance, there is also a huge rock that seems as if it arrived there through flying in from far away. Carved on the stone wall next to it are 4 characters: Dong Tian Fei Lai (meaning “Flying from Afar to the Cave). It is said when Liu Bang, founder of the Han Dynasty, was defeated, more than 200,000 soldiers were lost. To escape, Liu led his 10 attendants to break out of the encirclement and they hid in this cave.
Other Scenic Spots in the Area: Drawing Sword Spring, Immortal’s Bed, Beauty Cave, Twin Dragons Spring, Guolao Cave, Bowl Washing Pool, and Sightseeing Peak.