With the development and formation of the Silk Road, many historic and scenic spots were developed within the area. 22 of these are classified as provincial and municipal historic sites. The Kongtong Mountains are listed as the sixth provincial historic tourist site. The city government has established offices for tourism and for the mangement of these sites, rebuilt the historic sites, enhanced the scenic spots ,and added some facilities for visitor's convenience.
Kongtong Mountain, "The No. 1 Famous Mountain of Taoism in the World", lies 14 km west of Pingliang. It has a peak elevation of 2,123 m ,a relative elevation of 673 m , and a touring area of 14 sq km. It stands high above the plain among the undulating hills----powerful, dangerously steep and lofty. The mountain has long been known for its beauty enhanced by its towering pines and cypresses, ver-dant bushes, strange shaped peaks, numerous caves, and jagged rocks of grotesque shapes. It has both the character-istics of the majesty of the northern mountains and the ele-gance of the southern river—lapped mountains. There is a lot of folklore about the name of the moun-tain,one of the stories relates that it is called "Kong Tong" (empty cave) because the mountain is a mass of linked caves which are even ioined with the surrounding hills. Kongtong used to be a strategic point because of the canyon through which the Silk Road ran. At that time it was the only pass from Pingliang to the west since Liupan Pass was not yet open.
As long as 2, 000 years ago, Buddhist monks and Taoists gathered here at what was a unique mountain for both religions. A legend says that the Emporer Huang DJ, the first unifier of the Chinese nation, once came here to learn Taoist doctrine from Guangchengzi. History books say that during the Tang Dynasty,Monk Renzhi cut the bushes and constructed the only approach, '~$hangtian (Climbing to Heaven) Ladder"to the top of Kongtong and the place of meditation. Later, Xuanyan, Hutuo, and Wendao. Temples were built. Expanded and repaired by successive dynasties, the structures and sites on Kongtong Mountain include eight terraces, nine palaces, twelve courtyards, 42 groups of structures such as Juxian and Xiumu Bridges, and about 40 scenic locations like Xianhe Cave, Xianren Peak and Hell Gate Pass.
Kongtong Mountain has dozens of lesser peakS; the chief one, Mazong Hill, has an elevation of 670 m. The most striking aspect of Kongtong is its magnificence and beauty. On its south,there is a solitary peak named Leifeng Peak,reaching high into the sky ,it faces abysses on three sides and is surrounded by trees and clouds. A line of deli-cate structures sit on top and near the cliffs touching the sky and overlooking the deep valleys. Red pavilions with green tile roofs form a truely heavenly palace. In a thunderstorm, the wind roars and the mountain seems to shake and crack la really thrilling experience! On the way to Leifeng Peak, there are some dangerous cliffs, but there are a series of iron stakes and chains to help visitors reach the top safely. The second characteristic of Kongtong Mountain is' the dangerously steep and difficult climb. One way to the top is Shangtian Ladder----378 stone steps cut into the cliff face. Travellers can only climb up step by step by holding the chains on both sides. Over a very deep ravine there is a plank bridge named Xianren Bridge connecting the southern and northern peaks;it is terrifying to pass over the shaking bridge. Another way to pass the ravine is to hang in the air with hands grasping the chains and place your feet in the small holes cut into the cliff face; this is called ' sparrow hawk turning over". If you can take the excitement, try it ! Another characteristic is the caves located throughout the mountain. The most important ones are Chaoyang, Guiyun, Xianhe. Each cave has its own fascinating aspects . Perhaps the most fascinating is Xianhe, also called Xuanhe Cave. ft lies in the cliff of the eastern stand. It was to Xu-anhe(Black Crane)Cave that the celestial male figure of Guangchongzi was banished for falling in love with a pretty girl in the Dragon Palace. He lived a life of seclusion in a state of continuous love and hate. Over the thousands of years since, he has only come out three times,lying out in the bright sunshine after a rain.
Wangmugong Mountain, also called Huizhong Moun-tain, lies in Jingchuan, approximately 100 km east of Pingliang. It is said that Emperor Muwang and Empress Xi-wangmu of the Zhou Dynasty once visited Jingchuan and had a dinner here~ after dinner the empress was reluctant to leave and continually looked back,thus it got its other name "Huishan" -- --" looking back".
Wangmugong Grotto at the foot of the mountain was constructed in the early Northern Wei DynastyŁ»it is 12 m high and 11 m deep. There is a column in it with a circum-ference of 12 m. The column and the grotto walls are carved with stone sculptures: a white elephant carrying a pagoda on its back and many Buddhas, knights and bodhisattvas. On the front side of the column is carved a sitting Buddha, four meters high,with the full, rounded features character-istic of the Tang Dynasty artists. The sculptures in the grotto are divided into three rowsŁ» only 200 of the original 1,000 remain.
There are many steles on Wangmugong Mountain;the most famous one "In Praise of Wangmugong"is regarded as a gem. The inscription on it romantically combines history and legend ~ though very witty it is valuable from the aspect of history,literature and calligraphy.
Jingehuan Hot Springs.
This spring located in Jingchuan County, east of
Pingliang, is like a pearl along the Silk Road. Legend says that when Empress Wangmu,wife of the Jade Emperor or Heaven, was on her way to the west ,she caught sight of the spring at the confluence of the Jinghe and Nahe with its inviting vapors curling upwards much like the fairyland of the Kunlun Mountains, so she and her feiry maidens took a bath in it and felt greatly refreshed and energetic. The spring bas a daily output of 1,500 tons of water and main-taining a temperature of approximately 38 degrees centi-grade, containing dozens of trace elements that can help re-lieve the symptoms of more than ten kinds of diseas.es,like skin rashes, rheumatism and hypertension, it has been put into use as a spa visited every year by more than 100,000 people.
This temple is halfway up Longwei Mountain near Kongtong Mountain and just 3.5 km from Pingliang. Longyin Temple was first constructed in the Han Dynasty~ major reconstructions have been done during the Tang and other dynasties. It has five caves in all. Its name is derived from the legend that Crown Prince Liheng of the Tang Dy-nasty once lived in the temple during the turbulent period prior to his being crowned emporer. It got the name because an emperor was "The Real Dragon (llong')and the Son of Heaven" in the eyes of the people and this temple was the place where he lived.
Longwei Mountain where Longyin Temple is Located is a picturesque place, five km from east to west ,it has a vast expanse of lush vegetation. In matchless beauty, a temple is perched on the cliff, touching the sky, overlooking an abyss,and surrounded by a paradise of trees and flowers. At the lower part of the mountain are four springs whose shapes and fullness are affected neither by summer or winter nor floods or drought. There is another spring called ~'Longquan" (Dragon Spirng) whose waters pour out from a crack in the cliff and are scattered by the rocks like pearls through a jade sifter. It is said that the water of Longquan Spring is the tears of a dragon imprisoned under the moun-tain and that is why the water is believed to have the effects of curing diseases, prolonging life,keeping the hair black, and improving looks.
About 100 km from Pingliang,Chaona Pool is said to be the source of the Jing River. There are actually two pools the front pool is about 30 square mu and very deep. Its clear waters are said to have also attracted the Empress Wangmu to bathe here.
The back pool, one kilometer to the rear of the other, has an area of over ten mu sits sparkling surface without a trace of dust, reflects the greenness of the trees embellished by groups of flowers in a scene of such natural beauty as to enchant every one who sees it.
It is named Yunya (cloud cliff)Temple because the cliff inclines into the air like a cloud . It was built during the Northern Wei Dynasty and Further developed by later dy-nasties. There are eight other temples such as Hongya and Fomengou Temples within 15 km. This, too, was an impor-tant post on the Silk Road.
30 km away from Zhuanglang County is Fegou Gully. Scattered about it on both sides are grottoes and niches , strange peaks, jagged rocks of grotesque shapes, and ver-dant shrubbery. On one side,there is a cliff in which there is a cave that birds fly in and out making such sweet sounds that it is called "Xiangdong" (making sound) Cliff". Further ahead,two peaks stand side by side,forming a swing frames therefore it is named ," Qiu Qian Jla"',"Swing Pass. On the top of one of the peaks there is an old pine tree,similar to the Greeting Guest Pine on Hungshan Mountain which holds out its arms welcoming visitors. Yunya Temple is surrounded by mountains. A cliff like a roof protects it from the rain. It has three rows of caves~ the first,named Baiyun (white cloud )Cave, provides a won-derful view of the clouds. The second row has more caves in which are a total of 12 sculptures~ one of them is 2.3 m high and artistically valuable for its primitive simplicity and vig-or. In the third row ,there is a large cave ten meters high and five meters wide with two steles of the Ming Dynasty. To the east of Yunya Temple lie Guanyin and Bijia Mountains; one is like a pen holder standing tall,the other like a fairy maiden propping up the sky. To its south lies Longshan Mountain looking like a reclining dragon. In the west is Luochanya;strange rocks everywhere look like seat-ed arhats. Yunya Mountain to the north is famed for the white clouds drifting above and the Luohe running below. All around Yunya Temple, flowers and trees flourish, rare birds sing,and animals scurry among the shrubbery; it is a place of great natural beauty.
Liuhu Park lies outside the northern gate of Pingliang. It has a total area of 133 mu and a lake of 32 mu. The water of the lake comes from a warm spring that was first exploit-ed during the Northern Song Dynasty; the spring flows all year round. The name Liuhu (Willow Lake) is derived for the many Willow trees which line the bank. The park was renovated during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Though located downtown, the park is very quiet in-side. The high places serve as mountains, the lake as a sea; small boats drift on the green waters ;birds sing in the trees; paths and bridges meander like pretty ribbons; weeping wil-lows stroke the banks. No wonder travellers of all times have gasped with admiration at the beautiful view and writ-ten many poems in its praise!
Many changes have taken place here in recent years ;a children's park, a theater, a zoo , a flower nursery, and a pavilion in the center of the lake have been added. The best time to view the park is around March. At this time, a stroll around the lake reveals a Sea of pink peach blossoms and green willows , the orioles sing and swallows dart about, catkin silk dances in the air like snow flakes---- a picturesque view of 'Sunny Day Snow on Liuhu".
The best time to visit Kongtong Mountain is on April eighth of the Chinese Lunar Calendar because it is the day of the Kongtong Temple Fair. At that time, the mountain has just begun to put on its spring finery ~ very often it is warm and sunny and colorful butterflys flit about. The people gather from all directions to enjoy the company of sweet flowers and singing birds. The clear ,sparkling waters of the Jinghe flow at the foot of the mountain; the reservoir is peaceful and green; inside the temple, joss sticks burn; out-side, vendors hawk their wares. This usually tranquil Bud-dhist and Taoist retreat becomes an exciting place full of life.
The fur industuy of Pingliang was highly developed even during the Ming Dyansty and ,it is still an important distribution center for Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia provinces. The chief products are local wools, goat kid pelts, Tibetan lamb's wool and black fox pelts~ the latter two are especially famous.
It is a delicious sweet food, which, according to tradi-tional Chinese medicine, has a peaceful nature benefiting the spleen,stomach, ane kidneys.
It is a delicious food rich in nutritive value with plenti-ful vitamin and protein content.
Growing mainly along Guanshan Mountain,the bracken here is tender, unpolluted,and green;it is a delicious snack when lightly salted.
This is a local product which enjoys a good reputation for its thin shells and plump, tender kernels which have a high oil and protein content. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that it is good for nourishing the brain and kidneys and adding luster to the hair.
Mutton Soap With Unleavened Bread
This is a special Islamic snack of Pingliang. The mut-ton is boiled in plain water without condiments. When cooked,sesame oil, pepper,coriander,and garlic are added.
Jingning Roast Chicken
Jingning chickens are well- known for their broad breasts, large backs, and tender meat; therefore, the bright yellow roasted chickens are a delicious, succulent food which also makes a good gift.
Jingchuan Jar—Shaped Steamed Bread
The bread is shaped like a jar with the bottom smaller than the top. It is as white as jade, crisp and has a long last-ing taste; it keeps well without spoiling.
The persimmons of Zhangbasi, Jingchuan County, are heart—shaped and can be eaten raw or used in cooking. Their use in traditional medicine is for treating stomach dis-eases and hypertension and stopping bleeding.
Jingning Unleavened Bread
Introduced during the Qing Dynasty and after liberation exported to Lanzhou and Beijing, Jingning unleavened bread is plate- shaped, tender inside, yellow and crisp outside, tasty,convenient to carry, and long lasting.