M FUN AMID FOLKLORE
Jiyuan, located in the northwest of central China’s Henan province, which got its name for being the origin of the ancient Jishui River, is a charming place with mountainous landscapes and a huge hydraulic project.
ajestic mountains, links with ancient Chinese civilization and a huge hydraulic project give Jiyuan a special charm. The city, which is located in the northwest of central China’s Henan province is also relatively less frequented by travelers.
Yet, Jiyuan has a link to folklore that is familiar to practically every household across the country.
“The city got its name for being the origin of the ancient Jishui River,” Chang Shiyu, a local guide tells us.
The river used to be on a par with the Yangtze, Yellow and Huaihe rivers, although it has mostly been overshadowed by the Yellow River.
In addition to its name, the city is steeped in the spirit of Yugong, whose story has been told to every Chinese for generations.
Yugong was determined to move the towering mountains standing in his way, stone by stone, and believed that the job would be done if his progeny continued to do the job. His diligence and perseverance ended up moving the gods, who later granted his wish.
Wangwu is one of the two mountains.
Ancient lore has it that the Yellow Emperor, who is regarded as the common ancestor of all Chinese, worshipped the god here after he united ancient China.
The mountain covers an area of 270 square kilometers, with the peak at 1,715 meters.
Many Taoist temples dot the mountain, which also boasts geological marvels. It became a world geological park in 2006.
A grand plaza with its imposing stone gate and pillars greets us when we reach the foot of the mountain after traveling 90 minutes from the downtown area.
Its sculptures showcase an ancient worship ceremony by the Yellow Emperor.
As we ascend the steps, the Yangtai Palace presents itself. But several giant cypress trees with luxuriant foliage block the full view of the palace. The trees are all more than 1,000 years old, we are told.
The palace has three halls. The anterior hall is believed to be the biggest timber structure of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in Henan.
The reliefs on the stones in the hall feature dragons, birds, flowers and fairy figures.
Many visitors are seen offering incense and praying at the hall.
Leaving the palace, we opt for the funicular car that take us to the top of the mountain. Hiking up the peak takes roughly two hours.
Everything on the peak is clad with white mist, giving the area a mystical atmosphere.
The cliffs and view down below are magnificent, especially when wind dispels the mist for a brief moment.
A plump monkey then casually swaggers into the temple there. It doesn’t seem to be bothered by our presence at all.
“Monkeys here are used to humans, and they are here to find food,” Chang tells us.
After spending a day on the holy mountain, the next day we visit the Xiaolangdi hydro-junction, the largest water-control project on the Yellow River.
The scenic spot is roughly 40 minutes from the city center. The giant water gate and red stone-laid levee keeps the once unruly Yellow River in check.
The river used to wreak havoc across the country during the flood season. But now, birds can be seen flying past the serene water. Cherry trees have been planted around the reservoir.
Tourists usually flood the area in June and July when the dam is opened for water and sediment regulation.
One can get a detailed history of the dam by watching a video at the local auditorium.
Later, we take a ship at Xiaolangdi and sail to the Yellow River’s Three Gorges.
Most have heard of the Yangtze’s Three Gorges, but not many might know there are Three Gorges in Jiyuan.
Seen from above, the gorges resembles Qiandao Lake in Zhejiang province.
We see mountains with yellow rocks and green grass during the cruise.
Each of the gorges has its own unique characteristics. Gushan Gorge looks like a grotesque art work; Longfeng Gorge features twists and turns and Bali Gorge has sharp cliffs.
We jump into a rubber boat and go rafting at Yezhulin once we are ashore. It turns out to be a nice change of pace.
The course runs 6 km, with a 158meter fall, and many sections offer galloping rapids. In some buffering zones, we paddle. Everyone is exhausted after the adventure.
Despite its rich tourism resources, Jiyuan has gone all out to upgrade its infrastructure.
Liu Huihua, an official with the Jiyuan tourism development commission, says: “The mountain area takes up more than 80 percent of Jiyuan, which gives the city huge potential to develop tourism.”
So, the local government has earmarked more than 300 million yuan ($45.13 million) to build facilities.
Highways connecting it to surrounding cities including Luoyang and Yangcheng are underway, and the Hohhot-Nanning high-speed rail line will have a stop at Jiyuan. An airport will also be built.
In recent years, a total of 40 million yuan has been spent annually for tourism promotion, subsidies and tourism business development.
Meanwhile, work on a Taoist park at Wangwu Mountain is now under way, and Taoist music and rural tourism festivals are also staged.
A cycling greenway and pedestrian lane is also being developed for tourists, and dozens of agriculture parks and farms are being built for those who desire rural leisure.
Jiyuan, Henan province has a link to folklore that is familiar to practically every household across the country.