Tiantai Mountain is located in Qionglai (Chengdu, Sichuan Province), which is one of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries (world natural heritage site), as well as a national scenery spot with unique looking. The syncline hilly area landform of this spot is rarely seen in China. The whole area is mountainous, with wandering and clean river. The weather here is warm in winter and cool in summer, which makes it ever spring. You can see fantastic plants and rocks everywhere there. “Playing with water on high mountains” is the special tourism brand of Tiantai Mountain. The water goes as far as the height of the mountain, showing the romantic spirit of Tiantai Mountain. More than 10 tourist activities closely related to water in spots such as 18-li (9000-meter) Vanilla Valley, Small Jiuzhaigou and Mottled Stone Sea enable you to have a close contact with the wander river and springs on Tiantai Mountain in the hot summer, feeling cool.
The spots in Tiantai Mountain are abundant yet centralized. Tiantai Mountain faces Chengdu Plain and leans on the mountains of the southwest of Sichuan. On this mountain you can see the sea of clouds after rain, and in some scenery spots such as Moyun Rock you can witness the sky light. Yuxiao Peak the main peak is 1,812 meters above sea level, the shape of which is like a platform in the sky, and this gives Tiantai Mountain its name. In this painting-like area you can see the sunrise in the east and clouds in the west. There are 7 waterfalls in this mountain, with Xiangshuitan Waterfall being the greatest one. The 20-meter wide waterfall falls down from 40-meter high, making thunderous sound. There are more than 80 kinds of flowers such as camellias and rhododendrons. More than 360 kinds of tree cover the whole mountain, with over 50 kinds of wild animals living in it. There are also more than 270 precious kinds of butterflies including the monarch butterflies, as well as 17 kinds of fireflies. The butterfly and firefly-viewing activity in this scenery spot has become a popular program of ecological tourism. Here we have “10 miles of tree-line avenues” in summer and “forests on snowy land” in winter. In spring, flowers in the mountain blossom and leaves change the colors. Tiantai Mountain is famous for its unique rocks, clear water and deep forest.
The thick virgin forest take you to the peaceful nature from noisy daily life; the transgress mountains and unique rocks show you how wonderful and beautiful Tiantai Mountain is; the remains of 108 temples of the legend of Monk Court let you know great history of Tiantai.
Mottled Stone Sea
Mottled Stone Sea is one of the most beautiful Haizi (lake on the high mountain) in Tiantai Mountain. It is 60 meters wide, 650 meters long, with an average depth of 3 meters and 100 meters at the deepest. Around the lake there are many mottled stones. The water in the lake is as clean as the sky, as peaceful as the mirror, as clear as the crystal. There are many different colors in the water; stones with unique textures are everywhere to see. The reflection of trees on banks is clear to see in the river. When the tourists are having a rest, they can see “fishes traveling between clouds and birds resting on water plants”. You can also take a boat to enjoy “traveling in a painting”. Maybe this scenery spot can be described by editing a famous poem: You are watching the scenery on the raft, and people are watching you on the bridge; you are moved by what you see when you also become part of others’ dream.
In the ancient times, Luyou and Wentong came to visit this spot. Lu You made a famous poem and a postscript saying: Chongdao Temple governed by me is built below Yuxiao Peak. Wen Tong drew a painting showing “mountain surrounded by water and giant rocks are one the steep cliffs”
The stream bed is wide with “Danxia” and aqua color water. Both of the vanilla grasses of the small stream distribute round seductive smell. More grandly, clusteries of butterflies move with smelling the fragrance after the rain. White, black, red, yellow and purple and so on, multi-colored butterflies play and dance on the stream. According to the statistics, almost 320 kinds of butterflies embellish the beautiful Golden Dragon River more nimbus. Many butterfly fans come to this spot to take photos. Butterfly shoal is famous for butterflies. It’s as wonderful as Butterfly Spring in Yunnan, if not more wonderful.
Three Enchantments of Lissome Water
Three Enchantments of Lissom Water is one of the famous spots in Tiantai Mountain. It is located at the third-tier resort of Tiantai Mountain (containing Vanilla Cascade, Dragon Waterfall, and Moon Cave Water Screen), is famed for three landscapes of high altitude and water course, which are sometimes intermingled unvarying and lusty, sometimes ebullient and peppy, sometimes inert and vitalised, sometimes charismatic and zippy, and sometimes flamboyant and pristine. Cascade, water screen, and waterfall present you, from different perspectives, an alluring magic of Tiantai. The annual average temperature here is 10℃.
Mottled Stone Forest
Mottled Stone Forest, covering an area of 2 square kilometers, is also called Mottled Stone Labyrinth. Stone forest was formed by crustal movement 10 million years ago. Rocks weathered and eroded by water settled and piled up in the long history to form bibbley-rocks, and finally became the hoodoo rock seen today as washed and cracked by rainwater. If you do not observe carefully, you will probably take them the fake hills in the garden by mistake instead of the works by nature.
There are 2 differences between Mottled Stone Forest and Lunan Stone Forest in Yunnan: 1. It smaller with an area of about 2 kilometer square; 2. the components are more complicated (mainly bibbley-rocks, containing lime stones, sandstones, quartzite and few volcano stones.). Lunan Stone Forest consists mainly of pure lime stones.
Small Jiuzhaigou sits in the halfway of Tiantai Mountain. Jinlong River flows down to form a scenic waterway with three major curves and six minor curves, featuring charming scenery including springs, creeks, riffles, gullies, ponds and underground rivers. There are colorful fishes swimming in the water, sometimes you can even witness the precious giant salamanders. The river beds of Small Jiuzhaigou all consist of integrated red placer rocks, which is the representative of Danxia landform in Tiantai. The water that reaches your ankle flows on the flat red river bed, providing great place for water playing programs such as “running in the water from high mountains” and “tugging war in the water”. There are many plants along the river banks, forming a low bush forest area, in which so many different flowers fight to show their beauty, especially the camellias which duration of flowering is from November to March next year. The flowers become more clear and stunning on the snowy land in winter. To give the tourists more convenience to view the flowers in winter, this place is specially opened as “Camellia Corridor”. The largest scope of camellias in Tiantai is in Chuanxi (the west of Sichuan) area. It is regarded as one of the 8 city flowers in Chengdu.
18-li (9000-meter) Vanilla Valley
18-li (9000-meter) Vanilla Valley is also regard as the No.1 water playing valley in the West. The unique look of this scenery spot is made by syncline hilly landform of Tiantai. Here you can see ancient woods grow high to the sky, green grass smell nice and groups of colorful butterflies flying in the valley. With its theme of playing with water this beauty spot provides 18 programs concerning water such as going against the stream, water paddling, water treading, rafting in a bamboo raft, mill wheel game, revolving boat game and so on. The function of this spot is a combination of amusement, sightseeing, exploration and science popularization. There’s a popular saying: You don’t want to see water anymore if you are back from Jiuzhai because you can never see one more beautiful; you don’t want to play with water anymore if you are back from Tiantai because you can’t get one more enjoyable.
Leiyin Temple sits below Yuxiao Peak. It covers an area of more than 100 mu. Leiyin Temple was first a Taoism temple in Han Dynasty, and slowly became a Buddhism temple after Tang. Leiyin Temple was very vigorous in Song and ruined greatly in Ming by war. And now the scenic spots are resuming ruins, we can only imagine how great Buddhism has developed that time.
Because of its wonderful geographical location, Leiyin Temple is widely accepted as the largest and highest-ranking one among all Buddhism temple remains in Tiantai. From the sand table model we can see that Leiyin Temple has adopted the traditional layouts of temples. The left side and the right side are symmetrical along a medial axis, arranging in this order: entrance screen- three doors- Tianwang Hall- Grand Hall- Zushi Temple-side halls and Luohan halls. The overall style of the temple is that of Ming Dynasty, containing four-section compound and roundabout corridors. There’s an old say: Monks always go to the most famous mountains and build temples in most beautiful places. Tiantai Mountain, as wonderful as it is, has always been a place where Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism get together.
When you are walking on the narrow stone footway, you can suddenly see a 300 meter high peak standing with precipitous cliff. Mountain springs fall down from 100 meter high, making water fogs around. Narrow stone footway planked over the cliff stretches into the clouds. This is why the peak is called Moyun. There is a valley full of unique rocks in the north of the peak. Here you can only hear the sound of water but you can not see it. It is surely “clouds stay and water flow on precipitous mountain.” Moyun Peak is one of the peculiar peaks in Tiantai, which is noted for being steep. The land on the top of the peak is flat and covered by ancient trees. In ancient times, Moyun Peak is one of the spots to offer sacrifices to the god. Today we can still see the ruins—Pray Light Mound. At that time people in Tiantai choose high places to hang a string of lights when Spring Festival comes, and pray lights on Moyun Peak are usually the highest and most beautiful ones, which can be seen even 10 miles away. It is said this tradition is passed down from Dayu’s time.
Shenfeng (magical bee) Cave
Shenfeng Cave is just like a small room with a capacity of more than 10 people. The cliffs of the cave “mushroom” from the land to the sky. There are many kinds of plants growing on the rocks, attracting kinds of bees to build their houses here. Holes like honeycombs made by nature on the cliffs and give Shenfeng Cave its name. The name is written by Mr. Yang Yuguang the famous calligrapher. The powerful and elegant writing tells the ancient legend of Shenfeng Cave. Long long ago, the Queen of Heaven needed a kind of magical honey for her ceremony. To get this honey she had to get pistils from one hundred kinds of flowers in spring, essence of all plants in summer, frost in fall and spirit of snow in winter through 3,000 years of fermentation. The magical bee was sent for this mission. It chose the beautiful Tiantai Mountain as its brood and finally got the honey. The Shenfeng Cave today is just the brood of the magical bee.
Monk Court is the only religious court in the history of China. It hides itself among ancient woods and covers an area of about 8 mu. In ancient times, Tiantai Mountain was the living place for Gong people. From Han to Sui and Tang Dynasties, the three religions were flourishing and booming (It developed so fast enough to surpass Emei Mountain), but convergence of the three religions in the Song Dynasty resulted in a political and religion blend. To settle the conflicts the ruler specially sent officials to take charge in the religious affairs in this place. Lu You the famous poet was appointed as the vice governor of Gongzhou Government to coordinate conflicts among Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in Tiantai in 1170 AC. This special agency was called “Monk Court” by common people and because of it Tiantai Mountain became famous all over the country at that time. However, the prosperity was ruined by war at the end of Ming Dynasty. Today we can only see the remains of high platforms, stone lions, stone steps and so on.
The Destination of Self-driving Travel
The traffic condition in the scenery spot is getting better and better, which makes Tiantai Mountain the best destination of self-driving in the outskirt of Chengdu. What’s more, the opening of Cheng-Ming Highway has promoted the development of the spot. Driving to Tiantai Mountain at the weekends has become a good choice for people in Chengdu.
Lock of Love (water related)
This is a rather difficult one among all water related programs. To finish it you have to cooperate with each other. This program needs 2 people (one male and one female for the best) to move laterally with hand in hand. The two need to work together to keep balance. This program requires wisdom, strength and will. If you can’t keep up and cooperate, you will fall down to the water and have a cool bath.
Balance Beam (water related)
The water here is 1.2 meter deep so you have to be careful. This game is a battle for wisdom and sense of balance. What you need is the skill of stepping, good control of balancing and the courage to take the challenge. If you come to Tiantai Mountain for water playing then you have to try this. You can enjoy the fun of water even if you have fall down.
Waling on the Water
"Waling on the Water” was a famous Kongfu from a famous Chinese novel-Tianlongbabu. Swinging is what’s special about this program. You have to take one of the hanging ropes with one hand, step on the wooden block with one step, and then take another rope with the other hand and step on another block. You have to hold the ropes tight no mater how big the range is.
This is a kind of waterwheel of Gong people. With the development of the time, Longgongche has lost its function it used to have. Now they are used for tourism in Tiantai scenery spots. When you are using it, you have to hold the handle still and adjust your center of gravity, then your foot move at certain pace, neither too fast nor too slowly in case of accident.
Butterflies are everywhere to seen in Tiantai. The natural resources here is abundant with hundreds kinds of insects. There are about 220 kinds of butterflies in Tiantai. People who love butterflies can come and have a wonderful view. Now many butterfly fans come visit to take photos.
southwest of Qionglai City, 110 kilometers away from Chengdu City
How to Get There?
There are direct shuttle buses from Chengdu Xinnanmen station to Tiantai Mountain.
50 yuan per person
8:00 to 18:00
The best seasons to visit Tiantai Mountain are from March to June and from September to November.