Favorite thing At a height of 2,160 meters above sea level and about 120km/3hours east of Xi'an, Huashan, literally translated as Flower Mountain, is a sight for sore eyes. The mountain has for centuries been deemed as one of China's five sacred mountains (Wu ye), along with one Hengshan to the northeast, Songshan and Taishan to the east and another Hengshan to the southeast.
Huashan, also known as the Western Mountain (Xi yue) due to its geographical location in relation to the others, is famed as the most precipitous of the five. Along the 12km path leading from the foot of the mountain, where it starts at the Jade Fountain Temple (Yuchuan si), to its five peaks, you will get the chance to see some impressive scenes, including the strangely shaped granite peaks and the twisted pines, that make up this, one of the lesser visited of the holy mountains.
The peaks from above are said to resemble the petals of a huge plant, with the middle peak as the corolla, hence the mountain's name. Of the five peaks it is the southern peak (2,100 meters) that is the largest, closely followed by those in the east and west. The ascent provides not only natural scenery, but also a number of man-made constructions that, for better or worse, are now a part of the mountain's tourist culture. The route to conquer the peaks passes by temples, shrines, pavilions, terraces, carvings, statues, food stalls and hawkers, that appear interspersed between the stark granite paths and forested margins. Along the Green Dragon Ridge (Bilong ji), which connects the northern peak with the remaining peaks, the way is cut along a narrow rock ridge with steep cliffs on either side. Some of this route can be a little dangerous, despite the iron chains that are linked on the more precipitous sections.