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Henan, Zhengzhou, Luo yang

Henan, Zhengzhou, Luo yang

Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, has a venerated history of over 3,000 years. The Beijing-Guangzhou and Lanzhou-Lianyungang railways cross their ways in Zhengzhou, turning it into a major railway hub. Major attractions: ruins of a Shang-dynasty city, Henan Museum, Yellow River Tourist Zone, and Monument to February 7 Workers’ Uprising. Dengfeng, a city under Zhengzhou’s jurisdiction, is known for Mount Songshan, a holy mountain in central China, and Shaolin Temple. Mount Songshan comprises Taishi and Shaoshi mountains, and among its sites of historical and cultural interest are a Yuan-dynasty observatory built some 700 years ago, China’s oldest brick pagoda in Songyue Temple, and the Songyang Academy, one of the four major academies in ancient China. Built in 495 during the Northern Wei as the ancestral sanctuary of the Ch’an Sect of Chinese Buddhism, Shaolin Temple on the northern side of Shaoshi Mountain has made a name for itself for its martial arts, stone inscriptions of various dynasties, and Ming-dynasty murals. To the west of the temple is a forest of 243 brick-and-masonry pagodas built during 1 1,000-year span from the Tang to Qing dynasties. Gongyi, a city 80 km west of Zhengzhou, is the site of a mausoleum buried with the remains of 7 of the 9 Northern-Song emperors. Xinzheng, a city 40km south of Zhengzhou, was the native place of the Yellow Emperor.
No ancient capitals had witnessed the rise and fall of so many dynasties for so long a time span as Luoyang, the oldest capital in Chinese history. For over 1,200 years, Luoyang was the capital of 13 dynasties, including Xia, Shang, Western Zhou, Eastern Han, Sui, and Tang. Major attractions: Longmen Grottoes, White Horse Temple, and Museum of Ancient Tombs. Luoyang, which produces the best peonies China has to offer, is the venue of a yearly peony festival which lasts from April 15 to 25. Twelve km to the east of Luoyang Monastery is White Horse Temple, China’s oldest Buddhist temple established in 68 AD, or the 11th year of Yongping reign of the Eastern Han, but its buildings were rebuilt during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Construction of Longmen, one of the three major grottoes in China 12 km south of Luoyang, began in 494, but it was not until the Sui and Tang dynasties that is acquired the scale as we see today. Among Longmen’s wealth of world-famous treasures are flying Apsaras as well as fine works of Chinese calligraphy represented by the “20 Longmen Calligraphic Samples”. Enshrined in a total of 2,100 cave-temples are 3,600 stone inscriptions and 100,000 large and small Buddhist statues. The 17-metre-high statue of Vairocana in Fengxian Temple is the most representative of the trove. Seven km south of Luoyang is Guanlin, or Temple of Lord Guan, where the head of the celebrated Shu general is said to have been buried. Gleaming amidst rich piles of foliage of more than 1,000 ancient cypresses are the rooftops and walls of memorial buildings erected during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Museum of Ancient Tombs in the northern suburb of Luoyang is the only one of its kind in China, featuring 25 ancient tombs found in the Mangshan area of Luoyang.

Eighty km east of Zhengzhou is Kaifeng, one of seven ancient Chinese capitals. Serving for 168 years as capital of the Northern Song some 900 years ago, Kaifeng (called “East Capital” then) was the most prosperous city in the world with a population of 1.5 million. The East Capital’s thriving street scenes are faithfully portrayed in the famous Song painting Festival of Pure Brightness on the River. This is why Kaifeng’s tourist resources are pivoted on its Northern Song legacy, which includes lron Pagoda, Grand Chancellor’s Temple, Imperial street of the Song Capital, Dragon Pavilion, Lord Bao’s Temple, and the Garden of Festival of Pure Brightness on the River. Built in 1049, the Karfeng lron Pagoda is a 55.08-metre-tall glazed brick structure whose facade, panelled with brown glazed bricks, gives it a cast-iron look. Soaring to the sky like a gigantic pillar, it is a masterpiece of glazed brick carving in Song tradition and an emblem of Kaifeng. Enshrined in Grand Chancellor’s Temple built in 555 AD (but the structures on the premises were all built during the Qing) is a sculpture of Avalokitesvara with 4 faces and 1,000 hands and 1,000 eyes, carved out of the trunk of a 1,000-year-old gingko tree. When tolled, the gigantic bronze bell in the temple’s bell pavilion can be heard throughout the city. The Imperial Street of the Song Capital was for the exclusive use of Song emperors’ family members and aristocrats; today, lined on both sides with ancient-looking stores, it has become a shopping paradise. Dragon Pavilion used to be part of the Song and Jin imperial palaces. Some of the ancient structures are still there, including the major hall, their massive forms echo the Imperial Street in such harmony.

Anyang is a cultural city whose 1,000-year history dates back to its days as the economic and cultural centre of the late Shang. Unearthed from the ruins of the Shang capital 3km north of Anyang are large numbers of bronze ware, jade carvings and bone inscriptions which furnish valuable material for the study of the Shang history. Xiaotun Village in Anyang is the site of Museum of Shang Ruins, consisting of an imitation Shang major hall, an imitation Shang imperial palace, a replica of the burial chamber of Fuhao (wife of King Yin of Shang and the first female general in Chinese history), and Pit No.127, where 17,096 pieces of oracular inscriptions were found.

Yellow River Tour
A cruise on the Yellow River, which flows from west to east across Henan Province for 700km, brings the visitor to four ancient cultural cities with a new look-Sanmenxia, Luoyang, Zhengzhou and Kaifeng-and the Xiaolangdi Water Conservancy Project. The visitor may also sail down the river aboard old goatskin rafts or hovercrafts in Zhengzhou, join local residents in harnessing the river and planting trees, observe local habits and customs, or go visiting Xiaolangdi Water Conservancy Hub under large-scale construction.

Martial Arts Tour
A studio east of Shaolin Temple offers martial arts performances and training courses to groups and individuals from at home and abroad. Chengjia Gully in Wenxian County, 60 km north of Zhengzhou, was the cradle of the Chen school of Taijie boxing; martial arts training classes are held on a regular basis in a studio in the county seat, which is also the site of an annual international Taijie competition in September.