Wugui Peaks

Last updated by drwi at 2013-11-3

Mount Wugui (Wuguishan) has five peaks on which grow the fragrant osmanthus tree-shrub (the fragrant osmanthus plant (family Oleaceae) vary in size from a shrub to a small tree). Indeed, the name Wuguishan literally means "Five Osmanthus Peaks". The nearby city of Zhongshan, renamed in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen (the George Washington of China and revolutionary national hero and military strategist who helped to bring down the Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty, thus ending China's feudalistic era), whose birthname was Sun Zhongshan, was formerly named Xiangshan, meaning "Fragrant Mountain", which aptly reflects the true nature of the mountain that inspires its name. Mount Wugui, whose highest peak measures some 530 meters above sea level, is situated less than 10 kilometers inland from the western bank of the Pearl River Estuary, almost due west across the estuary from the city of Shenzhen, which lies just north of Hong Kong.

The mountain is surrounded by a series of reservoirs, such as Maling Reservoir to the east, Jinzhong Reservoir to the northwest, Baozhatang and Changjiang ("Yangtze River") Reservoirs to the north (the latter reservoir being another of Zhongshan's popular tourist attractions), Hengjing and Maliaolang Reservoirs to the northeast, Yixian Reservoir to the west, and Tianxin Reservoir to the southeast. Similarly, Mount Nan (Nanshan) to the southeast and Mount Qian (Qianshan) to the south are surrouned by reservoirs.

Mount Wugai has a glorious if somewhat young cultural history as the site of a revolutionary base, both during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) - which struggle also embraced WWII in the Pacific theatre - and during the Chinese Communist Revolution that would follow on the heels of WWII (during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Communists observed a truce of sorts with the nationalist government of the Republic of China in order to rid the country of the Japanese invaders). Thus, the Pearl River Column of Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Units was founded in the Wuguishan District of the city of Zhongshan toward the end of the war, with its headquarters in Gu's Ancestral Temple, situated in Binlang Village, also a part of Wuguishan District.

The area around Mount Wugai also has an anthropoligical-archeological history that stretches back some 5000 years. According to the historical records of Shaqiu Ancient Ruins, discovered in 1986 in the village of Longtang about 50 kilometers north-northeast of the capital city, Guangzhou, the history of the Wuguishan District of Zhongshan can be traced back to the Late Neolithic period, when the forerunners of the Lingnan culture (a reference to the Hakka-Baiyue ("Hundred Yue") mix of peoples who inhabited the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan and Fujian, as well as Taiwan) - the Baiyue people - lived in the area.

It is no surprise that a Neolithic culture would make its home in and around a mountain, for mountains - especially karst mountains like Mount Wugai - offer shelter in the form of caves, and where there are mountains, there are streams that provide food as well as transportation. The Shaqiu find confirms that the Xiangshan/ Zhongshan area was the site of the earliest evidence of human activity in the region.

Moreover, Mount Wugai itself was once an island in the now-defunct Linding Sea, which, over the centuries, became filled with the silt of the many rivers that empty into the present-day Pearl River Estuary via the Pearl River Delta (to learn more about the fascinating geological history of Mount Wugai and the geological transformation of the Linding Sea into the Pearl River Estuary, click here and scroll down to the "Brief History" section). In 2005, the municipal government of the city of Zhongshan set up a special reserve, the Mount Wugui Nature Reserve, which comprises the mountain range with its famous five peaks, as well as the mountain range's immediate environs.

Wugui Peaks is an area known for its memorable vistas, for its odd-shaped, karst rock formations, and for its mountain streams and its waterfalls, but also for its many flowers and blossoming plants, including the fragrant osmanthus tree for which it is named. The mountain abounds in the balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), aka Chinese Bellflower, as well as azaleas (genus Rhododendron), orchids (Orchidaceae) and numerous other flowers, and is also home to a plethora of diverse trees and shrubs such as the eucalyptus (family Myrtaceae), the yew (genus Taxus) and the acacia (subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae), as well as the ubiquitous Chinese red pine (Pinus tabuliformis).

The rich flora on Mount Wugai provides for a rich fauna, and the presence of numerous mountain streams and waterfalls helps to keep the climate of the mountain cool and fresh. For the local population living in the vicinity of the Pearl River Estuary - from Hong Kong to Guangzhou to Macau - Mount Wugui is the closest thing to Xanadu.

 

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From the city of Zhongshan, take bus nos. 11a or 11b, which will deposit you directly at the entrance to Mount Wugui Nature Reserve.

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