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Cangshan Mountains Scenic Area

Cangshan Mountain enjoys great reputation for its snow, clouds, springs and marble.

The unmelted snow on Mt. Cangshan is top of the Four Famous Scenes (wind, flowers, snow and moon) in Dali. The snow is so dazzling and splendent when the sun rises, especially in March. On a moonlight night, the snow reflecting off the mountain makes one feel that they are in a crystal world. The Bai People have many beautiful stories about the snowcapped mountains. One story goes that a plague god intruded the city of Dali and the local people suffered from endless plagues. In order to save them, a brother and sister went to a place named Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva to learn magic. With their magic skills, the twosome beat the plague god and forced him to stay at the top of Cangshan Mountain. There he was frozen stiff. The sister became the god of snow at Xueren Peak in order to keep the plague god under control. Since then the mountain has been adorned by shiny and amazing snow.

The clouds here changes often - sometimes the clouds are thin as silk, sometimes they are as dark as ink. The most magical and beautiful clouds look like Yudai Cloud (a jade belt) and Wangfu Cloud (a woman who expects to see her husband). Yudai Cloud looks like a fairy holding a jade belt and usually appears after rain in the late summer or early autumn. It is said to be the sign of good harvest for the Bai People. The offwhite Wangfu Cloud emerges at the top of Yuju Peak in spring and winter. Legend has it that it is an avatar of a girl of Bai Minority Group.

Cangshan Mountain, also known as Diancangshan, is located at the southern end of the Yunling Mountains and forms a trailing section of the Hengduan (transversely faulted) Mountains. Cangshan is always jade-green, hence the name. Cangshan Mountain stretches from Shangguan (Upper Pass) in the north to Xiaguan (Lower Pass) in the south, and touches the limpid water of Erhai Lake in the east and reaches the turbulent Heihuijiang River in the west. It measures 42 km. from south to north and 20 km. from east to west. The mountain range comprises 19 peaks and 18 brooks.

The names of the peaks are as follows: Yunlong Peak, Canglang Peak, Wutai Peak, Lianhua Peak, Baiyun Peak, Heyun Peak, Sanyang Peak, Lanfeng Peak, Xueren Peak, Yingyue Peak, Xiaocen Peak, Zhonghe Peak, Longquan Peak, YujuPeak, Malong Peak, Shengying Peak, Foding Peak, Ma'er Peak and Xieyang Peak. Malong Peak is the highest, measuring 4,122 metres above sea level, while the rest of the peaks average over 3,500 metres in elevation, and are covered with snow throughout the year.

There are 18 brooks among the peaks. They rush down torrentially into Erhai Lake. From north to south, the 18 brooks are respectively named the Xiayi, Wanhua, Yang, Mangyong, Jing, Lingquan, Baishi, Shuangynan, Yinxian, Mei, Tao, Zhong, Luyu, Long, Qingbi, Mocan, Tingming and Yuangnan Brooks.

The vegetation over Cangshan Mountain has a distinctive distribution and it is a treasure house of more than 3,000 species of plants, mainly consisting of evergreen coniferous trees, shrubs and grasses. In spring and summer, azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons bloom in profusion over an infinite expanse.

Cangshan Mountain is famous for the following eight scenic wonders named in the Qing Dynasty: Painted Screens at Rosy Dawn, Spring Snow on Cangshan, the Belt of Clouds across Autumnal Cangshan, the Radiance of Phoenixes' Eyes, Multistage Falls of Limpid water, Clouds Hovering over Yuju Peak, Clear Streams Running over the Pebble Bed in Early Winter, and Rosy Clouds at Sunset. The Clouds Hovering over Yuju Peak, believed to resemble the blank wife who is longing in rain for the return of her husband, has evoked a touching legend. Hence the more popular name "the Cloud Longing for the Return of Her Husband" (Wang Fu Yun). The story goes like this: In the days of Nanzhao, Ah Feng, the sweet princes of the King of Nanzhao fell in love with ah Long, a poor young hunter. The king was enraged and had the young man killed and thrown into Erhai Lake. Ah Feng, the princess in turn died and became a white cloud - the Longing-for-Husband Cloud floating over Cangshan Mountain - waiting for her husband to appear. The story praises the unswerving loyalty in love between Ah Feng and Ah Long.

The springs here are also famous. Besides the eighteen streams, there are still many lakes over the altitude of over 3,800 meters (12,467 feet). The lakefronts are densely covered with forests, which include valuable medicine materials, rare species of trees and many kinds of flowers. The flowers add even more beauty to the mountain and help attract tourists.

Mt. Cangshan is a famous manufacture center of a smooth marble, named Cangshan Stone. The Caihua Stone distinguish itself by its unique patterns. Natural scenes of mountains, flowers, birds or people appear once it is polished. What's more, the exquisite craftworks made of marble are sold here and abroad.

Besides the natural scenery, visitors can see cultural relics of the Bai people here. Three Pagodas, Inaction Temple, Three Pools in Qingbi Temple and Zhonghe Temple are all tourists attractions.

Ropeway in Cangshan Mountain
Constructed and put into operation on May 1, 1996, the ropeway is totally 1,668m long, climbing up to 478m. The starting point of the ropeway is at the foot of Zhonghe Mountain west of Dali Ancient Town, started at the Race Course of March Street of the ancient town. At the end of the ropeway there is Zhonghe Temple, a well known temple of Dali, and the 18km Yudai Wandering Road winding on the mountainside of Cangshan Mountain. Climbing up to Cangshan Mountain by the ropeway, the tourists will have a whole view of Cangshan Mountain, Erhai Lake and the Ancient Town.

If you don't want to climb the mountain, take the ropeway or rent a horse in the nearby town. Make sure to prepare enough food and water and to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, for it's a rather challenging journey with no restaurants on the mountain.

Admission Fee: CNY 30 (Resource Protection Fare)
CNY 60 (through ticket for Zhonghe Temple Telpher)
CNY 80 (through ticket for Gantong Temple Telpher)
Recommended Time
for a Visit:
Two hours
Opening Hours: 08:30 to 18:00

Cangshan Mountain is known as a backpacker haven. If you want to hike, the hike up the mountain takes about two or three hours. Whether you take the cable car or hike up the mountain, it is advisable to visit Zhonghe Temple. There is a restaurant there, stores for supplies, and a beautiful view of Erhai Lake. Trails branch out from the temple and go to various spots where you may see streams, peaks, forests, waterfalls, and temples. For those looking for a leisurely hike, the Cloud Pass is an easy choice. The stone path is fairly flat and winds around several peaks, several waterfalls, and three temples. There are also side trails near the waterfalls that lead to clear pools, waterfalls and beautiful areas. The Cloud Pass path stretches about 20 kilometers. You can’t lose your way because there are trail signs and many other hikers.
The best time to hike on Cangshan Mountain is late summer and early autumn so as to avoid the rainy season. Since the weather is changeable, it is advisable to bring some warm clothes whenever you hike in the area.

Marble Crafts

The mountain is also noted for its fine marble. There are quarries on the mountain, and craftsmen create marble articles that are known in China and around the world. The marble often has intricate patterns like flowers or like stripes like the planet Jupiter. Marble objects of art and craftsmanship may be bought in Dali. They are actually amazingly beautiful. The marble has unusual colors such as red, yellow, and jade-green, and some of the marble is stripped and spotted in a variety of colors. Cangshan marble is famous in China. For some reason, the Chinese word for marble is Dalishi which literally means “Dali stone.”

There are many Buddhist temples in the area. They include the Three Towers of Chongsheng Temple, Buddhist Picture Tower, Inaction Temple, Taoxi Zhonghe Temple, Nine Dragon Virgin Pool, Three Pools of Clear Green Temple, Three Pagodas and Enlightenment Temple. The famous Three Pagodas are only about a kilometer from the ancient city of Dali. They were built by a Nanzhou Kingdom King during the period of the Tang Dynasty. The Three Pagodas are one of China’s best preserved ancient Buddhist structures of that era. The central pagoda is over 1000 years old.

Getting There
From the old sector of Dali, one can simply hike up the mountain for two or three hours to reach Zhonghe temple. From there, trails branch off to the rest of the mountain. There is a cable car from the ancient sector to the top of Zhonghe peak and Zhonghe temple. The cable car is a half hour ride. You may also go on horseback from Dali. A tourist road has been built to connect all the spots in the area. Following the road, travelers can easily reach every attraction. A tourist road has been built to connect all the attractions in the area. On the road, travel on the mountain is easy.

Latest Tips on Cangshan Mountain
1. Cangshan Mountain is famous for marble products. Marble arts and souvenirs could be bought in Dali.

2. The bird’s eye view of the ancient city and Erhai Lake from a high elevation is fantastic.

3. It's advisable to take a cable car up Cangshan Mountain unless you want exercise.

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