Shanxi, situated in the eastern part of the Huangtu Plateau in north China, is one of the cradles of earliest civilization. The province borders the Yellow River to the west and the Taihang Mountain to the east. Shanxi is famous for its natural resources, among which coal is the most abundant one, and it accounts for one third of China's coal deposits.
Shanxi has a long history and enjoys many ancient architectures and historical sites. It is regarded as "China's Art Museum" and has the reputation of "the gold mine of ancient architectures and historical attractions". The Wutai Mountain, the Yunyang Grottoes, Jinci Temple, the Overhanging Temple and the Hukou Waterfall attract thousands of tourists home and abroad every year.
Recommended Scenic Spots
Located in Wutai County, Shanxi Province, Wutai Mountain is a famous scenic spot under state protection and is one of the country's four well-known Buddhist shrines and the only Chinese mountain mentioned in Buddhist scriptures.
In the mountain area, spring arrives in April, and snow falls in September, and even in mid-summer, it is cool and pleasant. Therefore, the mountain is called a "cool platform" and has been regarded as an ideal place for escaping summer heat since ancient times.
During the reign of the Emperor Mingdi of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 -220) efforts started to cut into the mountain and build temples there. Construction lasted 1,900 years, sometimes busy and sometimes not. Today, there remain a total of 76 temples on the mountain, ranking first in China.
Jinci Temple is located at the source of the Jin River by Xuanwang Hill, 25km southwest of Taiyuan. It was estimated that the temple was originally built between 1023 and 1032, but in the later years, the temple was repaired and restored repeatedly till Qing dynasty.
When you enter the temple, the first major structure come to you is the Mirror Terrace, a Ming building which served as an open-air theatre. To the west of the Mirror Terrace is the Zhibo's Canal, which cuts through the temple complex with a bridge named Huixian (Meet the Immortals) Bridge above it. The bridge provides an access to the Terrace for Iron Statues, which displays figures cast in 1097.
The Goddess Mother Hall is the oldest wooden building in the city as well as one of the most interesting spot in the temple complex. Inside are 42 Song dynasty clay figures of maidservants standing around a large seated statue of the sacred lady, said to be the mother of Prince Shuyu of the ancient Zhou dynasty.
Next to the Goddess Mother Hall is the Zhou Cypress, an unusual tree which has supposedly been growing at an angle of about 30 for the last 900 years.
The famous Zhenguan Baohan Pavilion lies in the north of the temple grounds, in which four stone steles inscribed with the handwriting of the Tang Emperor Tai Zong are contained. In the south of the temple grounds is the Sacred Relics Pagoda, a seven storey octagonal building constructed at the end of the 7th century.