A Natural City
Qingcheng青城 in Chinese means green city. The peaks stand in such a way that the mountain area resembles a natural city, surrounded by a wall. Covering 200 square kilometers, the scenic area of the mountain includes the Mingjiang River, woods, temples and several peaks, of which Laoxiao Ding is the highest, at 1,260 meters above sea level.
Top Things to Do
The mountain is divided into two main sections, Front Mountain and Back Mountain. The recommended visiting time is one day. It is suitable for families, friends, and individuals.
Temples on Front Mountain
Although located in fascinating natural scenery, Front Mountain is mostly known for its historical and religious distinction. Once a pilgrim destination, it is home to several Taoist and Buddhist temple sites and other historical relics, and covers an area of 15 square kilometers. Among its most important attractions are Tianshi Cave, Jianfugong Temple, Shangqinggong Temple, Yuqinggong Temple, Yuanminggong Temple, Zushi Temple, Laojunge Temple and Chaoyang Cave.
Tianshi – Dwelling of Mt. Qingcheng’s First Master
Tianshi Cave is supposed to be the place where Zhang Daoling, a famous Taoist teacher of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), came to preach. According to legend, Zhang fought off the monster and ghost of the mountain with the power he received from a great Taoist master.
The altar in the cave, which was built during the Tang Dynasty, houses statues of three legendary kings named Xuanyuan, Fuxi and Shennong; along with several ancient wooden and stone tablets. A stone statue of Zhang Daoling, dating back to the Sui Dynasty (581–618 AD), also stands in the cave. A small path leading to the west will get you right to the cave entrance.
Jianfugong Temple – Built More Than a Thousand Years Ago
Initially built in 730 AD, during the Tang Dynasty, Jianfugong Temple complex consists of two halls, three courtyards, and the nearby Yuanyun Pavilion.
The temple went through several reconstructions down through the years. It is viewed 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 for some rest, before you proceed with more sightseeing.
Shangqinggong Temple – For a Panorama of the Mountain
Standing near the top of Mt. Qingcheng, Shangqinggong Temple is among the best-known Taoist temples in the area. A flight of steps can take you another 100 meters up to a platform on top of the mountain, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the whole area.
Although the temple was originally built during the Jin Dynasty (1115－1234 AD), the current structure dates only to the Qing Dynasty and more specifically to the reign of Emperor Tongzhi (1856-1875 AD). The complex consists of a gate, a main hall, a side hall and the Yuhuang building. The main hall is home to an image of Taishanglaojun and to wooden inscriptions of Taoist religious texts.
Back Mountain – Enjoy the Fresh Air
Back Mountain is 15 kilometers 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 provide peaceful moments and fascinating views. A visit to Back Mountain is a good way to relax in a calm natural environment, after sightseeing at Front Mountain.