Cangshan Mountain in Dali Prefecture along with Erhai has two significant sceneries. The elevation of Malong peak, the highest peak of Cangshan Mountain, is 4122 meters.

苍山 Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan

The top of Cangshan Mountain is capped with snow. Abundant forests and flowers blooming in profusion on the half way up the mountain. In this area numerous precious historic relics and cultural heritages have been retained. There are such numerous scenic spots as 19 mountains, 18 brooks and Huadianba,etc. to its east and Yangbi Shimen Pass, national AA scenic spot, to its west.

Images of Cangshan Mountain

Dali Cangshan mountain and Erhai lake
Dali Cangshan mountain and Erhai lake

The Cangshan Mountain, also known as the Diancangshan Mountain, is part of the Hengduan Mountain ranges. It starts from Eryuan in the north and extends to Xiaguan in the south with 42 kilometers in length and 25 kilometers in width. Overlooking the Erhai Lake in the east, the mountain commands a unique and magnificent view. It consists of 19 peaks and 18 creeks in between from north to south.

These peaks are respectively named: Yunnong, Canglang, Wutai, Lianhua, Baiyun, Heyun, Sanyang, Lanfeng, Xueren, Yingyue, Guanyin, Zhonghe, Longquan, Yuju, Malong, Shengying, Foding, Ma’er, and Xieyang, of which, Malong being the highest with an altitude at 4,122 meters. Creeks are respectively named: Xiayi, Wanhua, Yang, Mangyong, Jin, Lingquan, Baishi, Shuanglu, Yinxian, Mei, Tao, Zhong, Luyu, Long, Qingbi, Mocan, Tingming, and Yangnan, which together flow eastward into the Erhai Lake.

The Cangshan Mountain is famous for its snow, clouds, springs, and marble. The snow-capped mountain is one of the Four Scenic Wonders of Dali. An expanse of pure and white snow glint in the sunlight, leaving men of letters amazed at its wonder. Li Yuanyang, a writer in the Ming Dynasty once wrote, “Beauty is the mountain with snow; 19 peaks are immortals’ abode”. Due to its high elevation and low temperature atop it, the mountain has perpetual snow even in summer and thick accumulation of snow in winter.

A legend goes that there were some gods of plagues in ancient times, causing nine people out of ten to die. Later, a brother and a sister learned the dharma from Goddess of Mercy and drove them to the top of the mountain to freeze them to death. In order to suppress them once and for all, the sister changed herself into the snow, thus giving rise to the perpetual snow.

Clouds meet and depart at times, some pale and hazy, and some like ink paintings. Of these changing clouds, the most famous ones are Husband-expecting Cloud and Jade Belt Clouds. When Husband-expecting Cloud appears above the Yuju Peak in late summer or early autumn, a heavy gale will come. It is said that it is the time when a princess meets her husband, who was sunk to the bottom of the Erhai Lake by an evil man. Jade Belt Clouds appear halfway up the mountain when the sky clears up after a storm during the turn from summer to autumn.

The clouds are an indicator of harvest, hence, there is a saying that “When Jade Belt Clouds are there, even hungry dogs will be fed.” Tourist attractions along the newly-built Jade Belt Clouds Path are the General’s Temple, the Shimen Pass, the Bodhisattva Temple, the Gantong Temple, the Zhonghe Temple, the Clear Crystal Creek, and the Butterfly Spring Park. The climate here is of the alpine vertical type. Vegetation includes trees such as firs, pine trees, chestnuts; flowers such as azaleas, camellias, and orchids; rare medicinal herbs such as Chinese angelica and aucklandia roots.

There are many alpine morainal lakes at the top of the 19 peaks, 3,800 meters above sea level, left by the glacier of the 4th Quaternary Period. These 18 creeks, waterfalls, and springs rush down all the year round, adding vigor and vitality to the mountain.The mountain is densely covered with virgin forests, rare trees, and flowers. Flowers of the mountain are very famous. According to Lancaster, an American professor, over one million Americans know about the Cangshan Mountain in Dali, as they all grow beautiful azaleas.

Marble of the Cangshan Mountain has won fame both at home and abroad. It can be found in most parts of the world, yet marble made in Dali is of rare excellence and beauty.Thus, the reputation of Dali marble spreads all over the world.

Photo: Oliver Huang