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Located 12 kilometers northwest of Jixian and about 100 kilometers from the city center of Tianjin, the majestic Mount Panshan is covered with exuberant forests and boasts a rich history and many breathtaking landscapes.
It has been recognized as one of the 15 greatest scenic spots of China and known as "The First Mountain East of Beijing"; in fact, there is a colorfully painted arch bearing such an inscription. Under the arch are stalls selling fruits and local products.
Mount Panshan is on the edge of the North China Plain. Less than 1,000 meters above sea level, the granite peaks rise abruptly, distinguished by the many dramatic sheer precipices and grotesquely shaped rocks and boulders. Its main peak, Guayue (Moon Hanging) Peak, although only 864 meters above sea level, rises sharply, making it look impressively tall. From the summit, visitors can see the Great Wall to the north and the Taihang Mountains to the west.
Six streams running in the valleys around Mount Panshan flow to the surrounding plains. The scenery along the banks of the streams is very beautiful. For instance, a stream on the south side is flanked with green trees and there are many rocks of various shapes and sizes in the valley. In the central Panshan area, there is a stone bridge, on which many visitor enjoy sitting and listening to the splashing of the stream against the rocks. Passing through the gate leading to the mountain, a giant rock can be seen, which is carved with 2 characters that can best be translated as "unsurpassed," reputed to be the writing of a high-ranking official of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
It is said that Mount Panshan is noted for its beautiful natural scenery of pine trees, boulders, and waters in a mountain setting. Among the more than 320 kinds of trees and shrubs found in the vicinity, pines are the most numerous. There are vast dense stretches of old pine trees around the Wansong (Ten Thousand-Pine) Temple and the Songshu (Pine Tree) Ridge.
The pine trees here have wistfully bent trunks and coiled branches. This is because they grow on slopes with a thin and poor layer of soil. In spite of these austere condition, coupled with the harsh climate characterized by strong winds and frost and snow, these pine trees indomitably adapt themselves to the circumstances by growing close to the ground and stretching their branches horizontally to reduce the pressure of the strong winds and to avoid rubbing against each other. This accounts for the different shapes of the trees and those of the same species growing on plains.
The key points of interest in Panshan Scenery Area consist of Five Peaks, Eight Stones, Seventy-Two Buddhas Temple, and Thirteen Exquisite Pagodas. Five Peaks refers to the highest peak in the mountain range, Guayue Peak, surrounded by Zigai Peak, Zilai Peak, Jiuhua Peak, and Wujian Peak, so it is also called Eastern Wutai Mountain. There are also countless wonderful stones with different shapes spread all over Panshan Mountain like stars and chess pieces, here and there, especially the Eight Stones, which easily attract all eyes.
With regards to history, visitors can visit Seventy-Two Buddhas Temple and Thirteen Exquisite Pagodas in Panshan Mountain which were constructed during the silver age of the Qing Dynasty; they are close duplications of the infamous Chengde Imperial Summer Resort. It is also the third largest royal garden after the Chengde Imperial Summer Resort and Yuan Ming Yuan Imperial Garden. However, during the end of Qing Dynasty, after World War I, most of them were destroyed. Fortunately, Tiancheng Temple, Wansong Temple, and Yunzhao Temple are all still well preserved and must-sees for all visitors.
The scenery in Panshan Mountain Scenery Area differs from season to season. Glorious flowers abound in spring, unlimited greens dominate in summer, marvelous leaves stun in autumn, and jade greenery and white snow create a tranquil atmosphere in winter. With so many impressive and wonderful vistas, no wonder Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty once wrote with regret, “If I had knew there is a Panshan Mountain near Beijing earlier, there would be no need to travel so far to Jiangnan (located in Southeastern China and is famous for its beautiful water scenery).”
1. Try a taste of the unique local foods and snacks in the farmers' yard of Panshan Scenery Area.
2. Special products in Panshan Scenery Area mainly consist of wild fruits and nuts such as peanuts and chestnuts. There are also some kinds of special stones called Maifan Stones, which are said to carry some kind of special functions.
3. There are many hotels and nursing homes and infirmaries around Panshan Scenery Area, and many farmers also offer accommodations. However, Yunsong Attic Hotel is the only 4-star, official hotel run by Panshan Scenery Area.