Wudang (Shiyan) Information
Chinese Name: 十堰 (shí yàn)
Area: 23,727 square kilometers (9,161 square miles)
To see videos of Wudang Mountain, click here.
Location: Shiyan is situated in the northwest of Hubei Province, the upper reach of the Han River. It borders Xiangfan City in the east, at the convergence of Hubei, Shaanxi, Henan and Chongqing. As a juncture of north, southwest and northwest China, Shiyan is of great importance in Hubei.
Shiyan City is 485 kilometers from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. The city is in the northwestern part of the province, and it takes about four hours to go there from Wuhan. It has a population of about 3 1/2 million, and it covers an area of 23,600 square kilometers. The area has mountains and beautiful scenery and ancient temples, and the city is known as the “Detroit of the East.” It is where Dongfeng Automobile company is located. It is a scenic city in the interior of the country.
Shiyan is a tourist destination partly because nearby Wudang Mountain is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list and partly because it is near other major destinations where you can see during a trip through the Three Gorges to Shennongjia to Gulongzhong to Wudang Mountain to the Danjiangkou Reservoir and to Xi’an. Wudang Mountain is considered a national 4-A level tourist spot and a sacred place of Taoism. It is a land where there are hot springs, waterfalls, mountain ponds, valleys, caves, and forests.
Shiyan is a city without harsh winters and cool summers. The weather is generally pleasant, and you’ll enjoy the environment.
Shiyan City has a long history and splendid culture. In 1991, archaeologists near the Qu Yuan River in Yun County found two complete fossilized Australopithecus skulls. These are known as “Yun County people”. Anthropologists believe that this discovery filled the Asian race’s evolutionary missing link. It was listed as the world’s most important archaeological discovery of the year.
Shiyan City exists because people in the Qing Dynasty built ten dams on the Baier and Li Rivers. “Shi” means “ten” and “yan” means “dam” . The National State Council approved Shiyan to be a city in 1969, and in 1973 it was upgraded to be a provincial-level city. Then in October of 1994, Yunyang was merged with Shiyan City.
The area has been a center for Taoism and Wudang martial arts. Wudang Taoism has more than a thousand years of history. The complex of ancient buildings on Wudang Mountain is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Food and Restaurants
Shiyan cuisine is like that of Hubei or Sichuan cuisine that are two of China’s seven regional cuisines. Mount Wudang Taoist vegetarian food is quite unique in that it combines the vegetarian cooking styles of Taoism and Buddhism. The focus is on color and taste. You can eat this food at Zixiao Gong and Tai Wo Palace.
Also, if you want to eat Wudang local snacks, you can go to the area of the Yuxu Palace where there are rows of snack bars on “Yongle Shengshi” street.
Because Shiyan is in a mountainous area, the weather depends on the elevation. It is coldest in January and warmest in July. The record cold temperature was minus 17.6 degrees Celcius and the record high temperature was 43.4 °C. The average hours of sunshine total between 1620 ~ 1990 hours each year. The best time to travel there is spring and autumn.
Other than the regular Chinese holidays, the main local festivals are the temple assemblies on March 3rd and September 9th in the lunar calendar and the yearly Wudang International Tourist Festival. The martial arts demonstrations are held every year in that Shiyan is a martial arts center. There are also exhibitions of photographs of natural scenery, paintings, carvings and rocks and minerals, and antiques and souvenirs for tourists. There are also local product trade exhibitions.
There are rules and customs to follow when you enter a real temple. Don’t point at the idols or turn your back on them, don’t stand around the temple entrance and don’t make loud noises.
There is a saying: “Monks don’t tell their names, and Taoists don’t tell their ages”. Taoists cultivate themselves for longevity and don’t like to be asked how old they are or about their life experiences.
Don’t use dirty words or curse. If you give an offering, don’t give pomegranates, plums, red flowers, chickens or dogs. Don’t eat animals or food like onions, leeks, garlic, or ginger, and don’t drink stimulating drinks. Those are the taboos of Zhenwu, the leading immortal in Wudang Mountain.
Wudang Mountain (wǔ dāng shān 武当山), situated in Shiyan (shí yàn 十堰) City, Hubei Province, China, has been called the No. 1 Celestial Mountain in China. It comprises of 7peaks, 36 cliffs and 24 valleys. Its main peak, called Heavenly Pillar Peak (tiān zhù fēng 天柱峰) stands at a statuesque 1612m and together with the other mist-shrouded peaks, creates a spectacular vision.
Wudang Mountain, with its natural beauty exquisite architecture and rich history, is worthwhile a detour from Wuhan. For its enchanting scenery and the legend of home of gods, many Taoists and hermits came to cultivate in Wudang Mountain, it was regarded as the origin place of China Taoism. Wudang Mountain is honored across China with the sobriquet as “the first famous mountain under heaven.” Today, it’s recognized as an architectural achievement and in 1994, UNESCO bestowed Wudang Mountain World Cultural Heritage status.
Golden Palace（jīn diàn 金殿）
The Golden Palace (jīn diàn 金殿) is on the top of Heavenly Pillar Peak is the essence and symbol of Wudang Mountain, the sign of Wudang Taoism coming to the highest peak under the support of the imperial families.
Standing in front of Golden Palace, you can have a panoramic view of the beautiful scene of Wudang Mountain, as far as 400 kilometers away. All the peaks are stopping at the static moment, just like raged waves, which wonderfully advertises the holy prestige and lofty imperial power. Meanwhile, you can also view many fantastic natural astronomical phenomena and learn many widespread fairy tales.
We can say that Golden Palace of Wudang Mountain has a strong attraction to visitors and pilgrims. With the development of tourist industry, the visitors coming to Wudang Mountain will increase progressively every year. Standing in Golden Palace, all the view will imbue you with a sense of surprise and piety.
Purple Cloud Palace（zǐ xiāo gōng 紫霄宫）
The nucleus construction of Purple Cloud Palace (zǐ xiāo gōng 紫霄宫), The Grand Hall is the only left double-eaved, lean-to-hill, wooden building. As one of the quite rare building of uplift wooden crossbeam construction in the history of the Taoist architecture, the Grand Hall is scientific and rational in structure and overall arrangement, harmonious and coherent in artistic style, united with surroundings as a whole, and unique in taste and features among the buildings in Wudang Mountain. Meanwhile, the Grand Hall, having absorbed the techniques of various times’ artisans, demonstrated great achievements of architectures in Ming and Qing Dynasties, therefore, worthy of visiting and researching.
The Tianyi Zhenqing Palace （tiān yǐ zhēn qìng gōng 天乙真庆宫）
In the South Cliff View-site, the most famous architecture is a stone palace named the Tianyi zhenqing Palace (tiān yǐ zhēn qìng gōng 天乙真庆宫). It’s said that after Zhenwu ascended to heaven, he lived in a palace called the Tianyi Zhenqing Palace. Obviously the followers of Zhenwu on the earth built the palace. This stone palace is the one of the masterpieces of Chinese ancient architecture and is a representative of ancient Chinese stone buildings.
The Tianyi Zhenqing Palace is made of wood-like stones. The roof beams, pillars, square timbers, windows, doors, joints and decorations of animal sculptures on the roof ridges, were carved from green stones and then combined together. The whole palace, accurately designed, delicately structured, and exquisitely carved, is a masterpiece of the large Chinese stone carvings. The difficulties of building this palace on the steep cliff stretch our imagination to the limit.
The Tianyi zhenqing Palace was built by a famous Taoist Zhang-Shouqing (zhāng shǒu qìng 张守庆) at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty (yuán cháo 元朝) and was finished 27 years later. Zhang went to Wudang Mountain at the age of 30 and led his thousands of disciples to reclaim wasteland, plant the land and cut the cliff and then left this marvelous spectacle for the later generations.
Spring, summers and autumns are the best seasons to visit Wudang Mountain. The mountain can be chilly near the top and be sure to have enough clothes for the nights.You can stay on the mountain, but most prefer the convenience of staying closer to the town (called Laoying “lǎo yíng 老营” in the past), which is some 25km from the main peak. In early April and early October there are dragon boat races at Wudang Mountain on the Han River (hàn jiāng 汉江). Every October, the weeklong Wudang International Tourism Festival takes place on the mountain with kung fu displays, photography exhibitions, and art exhibitions.
To see videos of Wudang Mountain, click here.