Cangshan is a mountain range immediately west of Dali City in Yunnan province of Southwest China. The highest summit, Malong, is 4,122 m, but the mountain includes another 18 peaks all over 3,500 m altitude. The mountain is noted for its very rich, diverse flora, first scientifically documented by Pierre Jean Marie Delavay in 1882.
In 1991, construction began on a paved walkway running north and south from the top chairlift station near ancient Dali. This walkway passes several waterfalls, and overlooks lake Erhai and the ancient city itself. This walkway is named "Jade-Cloud Road" after the could formations that appear over the Cangshan peaks. Construction was completed in 1992 and in 2004 a new project was launched to widen the road and increase its length. At the Dali Town chairlift station on the mountainside is a temple complex as well as a small travellers' inn.
Features of Cangshan Mountain
Mt. Cangshan, also called Diancang Mountain, was once named Xiongcang Mountain and in ancient times was called Lingjiu Mountain. It is made of 19 peaks and make up the highest peaks of the Yunling Mountain Range. All are 3,500 meters (11,483 feet) above the sea level and at 4,122-meter (13,524-feet), Malong Peak is the highest. In between every two peaks are streams, and water rushes down the mountain and pours into Erhai Lake. These streams originate from spring water or thawing snow and irrigate the farmlands around.
The mountain enjoys great reputation for its snow, clouds, springs and marble.
The unmelted snow on the mountain is top of the Four Famous Scenes (wind, flowers, snow and moon) in Dali. The snow is so dazzling and splendent when the sun rises, especially in March. On a moonlight night, the snow reflecting off the mountain makes one feel that they are in a crystal world. The Bai People have many beautiful stories about the snowcapped mountains. One story goes that a plague god intruded the city of Dali and the local people suffered from endless plagues. In order to save them, a brother and sister went to a place named Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva to learn magic. With their magic skills, the twosome beat the plague god and forced him to stay at the top of Cangshan Mountain. There he was frozen stiff. The sister became the god of snow at Xueren Peak in order to keep the plague god under control. Since then the mountain has been adorned by shiny and amazing snow.
The clouds here changes often - sometimes the clouds are thin as silk, sometimes they are as dark as ink. The most magical and beautiful clouds look like Yudai Cloud (a jade belt) and Wangfu Cloud (a woman who expects to see her husband). Yudai Cloud looks like a fairy holding a jade belt and usually appears after rain in the late summer or early autumn. It is said to be the sign of good harvest for the Bai People. The offwhite Wangfu Cloud emerges at the top of Yuju Peak in spring and winter. Legend has it that it is an avatar of a girl of Bai Minority Group.
The springs here are also famous. Besides the eighteen streams, there are still many lakes over the altitude of over 3,800 meters (12,467 feet). The lakefronts are densely covered with forests, which include valuable medicine materials, rare species of trees and many kinds of flowers. The flowers add even more beauty to the mountain and help attract tourists.
This mountain is also a famous manufacture center of a smooth marble, named Cangshan Stone. The Caihua Stone distinguish itself by its unique patterns. Natural scenes of mountains, flowers, birds or people appear once it is polished. What's more, the exquisite craftworks made of marble are sold here and abroad.
Besides the natural scenery, visitors can see cultural relics of the Bai people here. Three Pagodas, Inaction Temple, Three Pools in Qingbi Temple and Zhonghe Temple are all tourists attractions.
If you don't want to climb the mountain, take the ropeway or rent a horse in the nearby town. Make sure to prepare enough food and water and to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, for it's a rather challenging journey with no restaurants on the mountain.
How to get Cangshan Mountain
A cable car is now available for the Cangshan Mountain with day tours from Dali or Xiaguan. The cable car starts west of the ancient town of Dali and goes to Zhonghe Temple. It costs RMB35 for a round trip ticket. There, you can walk along Yudai Lu, a 18km newly built path on the waist of the mountain. Although none of the cultural sites along the road charge admission, it is quite impossible to visit all the sites on the mountain within a day.