Sanqing Shan NP, China
In July of 2011, I had to opportunity, to explore one of the most beautiful locations in the World with a small . Mount Sanqingshan National Park, a 22,950 ha property located in the west of the Huyaiyu mountain range in the northeast of Jiangxi Province (in the east of central China).
Sanqing Shan National Park has been inscribed for its exceptional scenic quality, marked by the concentration of fantastically shaped pillars and peaks: 48 granite peaks and 89 granite pillars, many of which resemble human or animal silhouettes.
A sea of clouds is one of those natural highlights at the Park. Since most of the scenic spots are located 1,600 m above sea level, the deep gorges, together with the luxuriant forests, shorten the length of time for sunlight to penetrate down to the ground. This makes it hard for water to evaporate and creates high humidity levels and moisture in the air. This leads to the park being covered with mist and clouds almost 250 days of the year.
Pictured above and below, the natural beauty of Mount Sanqing Shan also derives from the juxtaposition of its granite features with the mountain’s vegetation enhanced by meteorological conditions which create an ever-changing and arresting landscape.
The mountain’s meteorological effects are notable: light refraction can produce bright halos on clouds and white rainbows in foggy air. Seen from above, the cloud seas and falls over ridge crests are striking. Mists are common and the strange shapes of the towering fingers of rock when wreathed in mist make this an unusually fantastic landscape. It gives you a mystical feeling of walking in heaven.
The access afforded by suspended walking trails in the park permited my trekking buddies and myself to appreciate the park’s stunning scenery and enjoy its serene atmosphere, (pictured below).
Mount Sanqing Shan is at the western end of the Huaiyu Range. It is a massive uplifted pluton of deeply faulted and dissected granite, which forms an island of temperate forest above the subtropical countryside.
The central massif of Yujing (1817m), doubly uplifted in the late Cenozoic within a bordering triangle of faults, dominates a fragmented network of joints in the batholith resulting from past expansion of the crust.
The eroded blocks were further split horizontally into cliffs and clusters of sharp-edged, rounded and sculpted pillars which were never later glaciated, resulting in a forest of pinnacles, (pictured below).
Pictured below, the “Oriental Goddess” Peak is dignified, graceful and remarkably life like, it is unsurpassed in presenting the romantic charm of an oriental woman.
As the day got warmer, the fog started to slowly dissipate. Pictured below, the “Gigantic Boa” is a slender pillar rising up from the peak forest by as high as 128m, like a “boa” holding its head up against sky, full of life tension and noble spirit, and they are deemed to be superlative scenes under heaven.
Mount Sanqing Shan is a masterpiece created by the nature, and a product resulting from the endogenous and exdogenous processes of the Earth.
The occurrence of the marvelous micro-landforms of Mt Sanqing Shan is due to a multipicity of factors. These include the existence of ultra-acidic, high silicic, high potassium and low calcium granites as a material basis.
The crustal extension that produced deep vertical joints lying on a fan-shaped fracture pattern of the mountain which cuts the granite into blocks, thick plates and prisms.
In addition, the area receives substantial precipitation causing leaching and scouring of the mountainside to create an outstanding and unusual sculptural landscape. Further development of the landscape is attributable gravity collapse and biological activity.
Pine trees found in the Sanqing Shan National Park are mostly covered with an umbrella-like top. Their bizarre and diversified shapes perfectly match the park’s unique stones.
There is nothing like feeling the spray from the rain drizzle and cool breeze on a hot summer day while hearing the swaying of pine trees blowing gently in the breeze, surrounded by mountains on all sides.
The mountain’s name, Mount (Shan) Sanqing is associated with Taoist belief. Since the three main peaks in the park, Yujing, Yuxu, and Yuhua look like the highest spirits honored in Taoism (Yuqing, Shangqing, and Taiqing) all sitting in a row, the mountain range was called “The Three Puity Mountain” or Mount San-qing. Shan means mount in China.
Sanqingshan has been a Taoist shrine since a priest, Ge Hong, came to the mountain 400 years ago. At 1,530m high in the heart of the mountain stands the large Sanqingshan temple, the Dragon and Tiger temple, named for its carvings and the Ming period Wind and Storm pagoda.
The looming, intricate rock formations intermixed with delicate forest cover and combined with ever-shifting weather patterns create a landscape of arresting beauty.
All this together, is why I would classify this location as one of the most beautiful places on earth. I personally, classify it as the “Kubla Kahn’s” Xanadu. It is like Heaven-on-earth. Literally walking in the clouds.
Pictured above, I was heading back of the mountain. The cliff-walkways were amazing engineering accomplishments.