- Written by Dan
The name Sanqingshan is derived from the Mandarin word “Sanqing,” which literally means “three districts.” The mountain was rightly named, as it consists of three main peaks: the Yujing Peak, the Yuxu Peak, and the Yuhua Peak, known as the “Three Taoist Gods.”
Covered in mist for 200 days of the year, Sanqingshan was the mystical setting for Taoist meditation during the Tang Dynasty period, when Taoism was at its peak. At this time, many believed that the mountain held the key to immortality. In the mid-4th century, renowned alchemist and Taoist theorist Ge Hong conducted a number of experiments in an attempt to create the elixir of immortality. While he was unsuccessful, he forever lives immortal on the mountain, forged as a granite statue holding his elixir within his hands.
While numerous people were attracted to Sanqingshan in search of immortality, this was put to an end in the 18th century when Emperor Qianlong favoured Buddhism over Taoism. Nonetheless, Sanqingshan remained an ancient cultural heritage site ever since.
Today many of the mountain’s stonework formations eerily take the silhouette of humans, animals, and even trees! Thousands of streams pour into pools along the site, adding to the landform’s unique geography. These pools and the mountain’s natural vegetation lure many rare and exotic animals to the mountain. On Sanqingshan, the European otter and the Chinese ferret-badger can be found, as well as 2,500 species of plants.
Sanqingshan, now a national park, contains cable cars constructed to take people up the mountain. However, for those feeling more adventurous, the mountain provides a great opportunity for a hiking adventure. Covering over 22,000 hectors of land, there is plenty to discover! Largely visited by local Chinese, Western tourists have yet to discover all Sanqingshan has to offer. However, since it became a World Heritage Site in 2008, the mountain is slowly gaining popularity.
It’s exceptionally scenic paths, ancient relics, and unique landforms put this Taoist sanctuary on the same level as the Great Barrier Reef or the Rocky Mountains.
So does Sanqingshan really hold the secret to immortality? We will likely never know, but it’s ours to discover.