It is the birthplace of a renowned form of martial arts. Many Chinese kung fu movies are set within its many monasteries, training grounds, and temples. A popular hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan, was inspired by its beautiful fighting styles. This is Mount Wudang.
Located northwest of Hubei Province, Mount Wudang is the most famous Taoist Holy Place in China and the birthplace of Wudang School of Kung Fu. Contained in an area of 321 sq. Km., Mount Wudang is a picturesque mountainscape ponds,Â springs, wells, platforms, pools, stones, caves, cliffs and peaks. Furthermore, it is home to an intricate complex of temples, monasteries, and pathways, all built to blend with their environment to create a seamless harmony of nature and man-made constructs.
Mount Wudang was already a favored spot for Taoist worship in the early days of China. The first worship site to be built here is the Five Dragon Temple during the Tang Dynasty. According to legend, an ambitious warrior named Zhuli usurped the Imperial Throne. To consolidate his power grab, the new emperor declared his ascension as a mandate of heaven and ordered numerous monasteries built in Mount Wudang to support his claim, declaring it the â€œgrand mountainâ€. He especially dedicated the Hall of Yuzhen to a celebrated martial artist of the time, which then became the cradle of Wudang Kung Fu. Later emperors continued using the mountain as the Imperial Temple, to ward off evil. This led to the growth of Mount Wudang as the top Taoist temple by the end of the Ming dynasty. These emperors kept offering diety statues, sacrificial utensils, and other precious items to the temple that people started calling Wudang the “Gold and Silver World” due to the rich resources it possesses.
Wudang Taoism continues to be featured by its worship for the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor Zhuli, its practice of Chinese Inner School Boxing, its advocacy of the integration of Three Doctrines and its emphasis on Cultivation and Refinement of Inner Alchemy and Spiritual Nature. Among its famous attractions are the Golden Hall (the largest copper structure in the country) atop Heavenly Pillar Peak, the Nanyan Temple, and the Purple Cloud Temple. The road up to the temple complex, called Diety Boulevard, zigzags along the mountain for 70 km., in accordance to Taoist inner alchemy and nature.
Mount Wudang suffered a bit during the Cultural Revolution during the 1960’s when communist youths suppressed China’s cultural heritage. Recently, the mountain regained some of its lost glory as a center of Taoist beliefs and a training ground for a new generation of Wudang Kung Fu practitioners. In 1994, UNESCO declared Mount Wudang as a world heritage site for achieving the highest standards of Chinese art for the past millennium.
In this 10-minute video from Xue Chao, we can see the majestic Wudang Mountain and the surrounding area.
Video courtesy of wudangbing
If you plan to travel to Mount Wudang this year, a great time to do it would be between October 28 to November 2, during the third bi-annual Traditional Wushu Festival. The best way to get there for foreigners is to take a fly to Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, then buy a sleeping ticket onboard an express train. Though this may be slower than a direct flight, it is less confusing than finding a saloon bus or train once they are in the vicinity of Mount Wudang.