Hengshan Mountain, named the Southern Mountain of the Five Sacred Mountains, is located in Hengyang County, the middle part of Hunan Province. It has 72 peaks and extends 150 kilometers, with 800 miles in circumference. The Huiyan Peak is the south end of the peaks, Yuelu Mountain in Changsha City is the north end, and the Zhurong Peak is the highest, with 1,290 meters above sea level. On the top, the Shaolin Temple and the Watching Sunrise Platform are the best scenic spots.
Besides marvelous temples, the mountain also boasts 9 ponds, 9 wells, 9 pools, 10 caves, 15 rocks, 25 streams and 38 springs, in harmony with green forests and fragrant flowers and grass. Grand, graceful, sequestered and culturally abundant, Hengshan Mountain leads the five sacred mountains by its gracefulness.
As early as 2,000 years ago, many emperors and celebrities visited Hengshan Mountain and left quite a lot of stone inscriptions of poems, including that of famous poets: Libai, Dufu and Zhuxi. With beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage, the mountain attracts travelers home and abroad.
The biggest temple in the mountain is the Nanyue Temple, which is the largest group of ancient buildings in Hunan Province, covering an area of 100,000 square meters. Among the temples in the mountain, the Fuyan Temple is known as the nations First Temple of Buddhist Doctrine, with a maidenhair tree of 1,400 years old; the Nantai Temple has a history of over 1,400 years and is regarded as the origin of a Buddhist branch in Japan; the Tripitaka Temple, famous for its delicacy and enfeoffed Confuian classics, is surrounded by such oddly-shaped ancient trees like Money Tree, Tree of Love, etc., and many historic sites like Shuzhuang Tai and Diaoyu Tai and Yunchun Pavilion. The Fangguang Temple, which is quiet with a forest of ancient trees, and the Water-Screen Cave, which is mysterious, are all spots of interest.
The renowned Four Wonders of the Southern Mountain are, namely, the loftiness of Zhurong Peak, the delicacy of Tripitaka Temple, the quietness of Fangguang Temple and the mystery of Water-screen Cave.
The Nanyue Temple has nine courtyards and the main hall is 22 meters high, supported by 72 stone pillars, which symbolize the 72 peaks of the mountain. Glazed in red and yellow, the temple, covering 98,500 sq. meters, is linked with many other buildings and represents a grand palace complex.
The gate of the Nanyue Temple is a 20-meter-high stone gate called Lingxing Gate. The main hall of the Nanyue Temple is called the Shendi Hall, over 30 meters high and over 50 meters wide, which looks magnificent and has two layers. In the middle there consecrates the figure of Nanyue God Emperor. With 72 large stone poles supporting the hall, it looks magnificent and characteristic. Passing the God Emperor Hall, it is Mausoleum with the sitting figures of Saint Father and Saint Mother. Besides, there are two halls, one is the Zhusheng Hall, belonging to Taoism, and the other is the Xiashen Hall, belonging to Buddhism.
The Water-Screen Cave, lying under the Zigai Peak, is an irresistible attraction. The most famous in the Water-Screen Cave is foundation. Walking along the brook and past the stone bridge, you can see stones with different poses and different carvings. The falling foundation falls into a stone pool.