HuabuzhuHill — a stun­ning lo­cal at­trac­tion un­known to tourists

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By LI YANG and ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Huabuzhu Hill in the north­east­ern sub­urb of Jinan, in Shan­dong prov­ince, may not be a well-known scenic spot for tourists, but it is an in­alien­able part of lo­cal life.

“Al­though I grew up at the foot of the hill, I had not climbed it un­til the 1990s. It is a mys­te­ri­ous place,” says WangQinghua, thewritero­fa­bookon Jinan’s most fa­mous hill: Huabuzhu.

The 192-meter tall cir­cu­lar-cone­shaped hill stands alone on a vast plain to the south of the Yel­low River, and ap­pears higher than its ac­tual el­e­va­tion.

For most of the time, from the 1940s to early 1990s, the iso­lated peak was used by the army — it had an­ti­air­craft guns on top and barbed wire along its perime­ter at the bot­tom.

It is said that the hill, which is cov­ered with huge earth-col­ored stones, had also been hol­lowed out to be used as an am­mu­ni­tion de­pot.

Wang re­called that his first visit to the hill in 1998 was like trea­sure­hunt, a view shared by many of the res­i­dents of the 17 vil­lages who lived in the vicin­ity of the hill.

De­scrib­ing his first visit, Huang Jian­hua, a lo­cal vil­lager, says: “We found dozens of bro­ken stone tablets along a wild dirt path.

“The pieces were in­scribed ei­ther with an­cient Chi­nese char­ac­ters or del­i­cate pat­terns.”

Now, many res­i­dents climb the moun­tain — half an hour to the top via neat stone steps.

At the top one can see the stone foun­da­tion of a tem­ple.

There is also a large well-pre­served Taoist tem­ple dat­ing back to the Song Dy­nasty (AD 960-1279) at the foot of the moun­tain, be­sides a small Taoist tem­ple about half­way up.

The large tem­ple is called Huayang and con­sists of 17 halls and sev­eral court­yards.

There are also dozens of cypress trees, which are about 800 years, in the area.

The tem­ple halls con­tain ex­quis­ite fres­coes which are cov­ered un­der a thick layer of plas­ter.

It is be­lieved that this was done to pro­tect them dur­ing the po­lit­i­cal move­ments of the 1960s and the 1970s.

Be­sides Taoist gods, stat­ues of Mi Ziqian and Pang Choufu are also found in the tem­ple.

The two­lived­about2,000yearsago near the hill, and are wor­shipped, re­spec­tively, for their fil­ial piety and unswerv­ing loy­alty to the king.

Speak­ing of the two fig­ures, Li Xiaoy­ong, a lo­cal res­i­dent in his late 80s, says: “For us, Mi and Pang rep­re­sent the hills’ cul­tural val­ues. They have been role mod­els for lo­cal chil­dren for gen­er­a­tions.”

De­spite the mil­i­tary oc­cu­pa­tion putting the hill out of bounds for the lo­cals for a long pe­riod, it did re­sult in the hill and Huayang be­ing pro­tected from en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age.

Al­most prov­ing this point, two small hills nearby have nearly dis­ap­peared due to ram­pant quar­ry­ing.

In the year 2000, Huabuzhu was made a park, and then up­graded to a pro­vin­cial-level ge­o­log­i­cal park.

Mean­while, re­search has un­cov­ered that a host of fa­mous po­ets and artists over the cen­turies were in­spired by the fab­u­lous views of Huabuzhu, when it was sur­rounded by wa­ter, and that there are many clas­sic art­works cel­e­brat­ing this view­still in ex­is­tence.

Huabuzhu, means a lo­tus bud in the wa­ter, and the name prob­a­bly refers to a time when wa­ter sur­rounded the hill.

But the lake grad­u­ally re­ceded to a few ponds as a canal in late Song Dy­nasty was dug to con­nect Jinan to Bo­hai Bay.

The ponds’ wa­ter comes from a nat­u­ral spring called Huaquan at the foot of the hill’s south­ern slope.

There are leg­ends about al­most ev­ery large stone on the hill. And Wang spent nearly 10 years study­ing the leg­ends and his­tory of the hill be­fore writ­ing the book on it.

“I am just proud of this hill, though I have not known it for very long,” he says.

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