Updated on: Jun 25, 2013
Lion Mountain, positioned at the west part of Lijiang old town, Yunnan Province, southwest China, was merely 300m (984ft) from Sifang Street, the heart of the old town. Rising at 2,500m (8,200ft), Lion Mountain is the highest point of the town.
As can be implied from the name, the mountain garnered its moniker for its resemblance to a lion lying on its stomach. On top of the mountain, a park, the Lion Mountain Park is occupying a total area of 15 hectares. Nearly 90% of the mountain is lined up with trees, mostly cypresses which are just as old as the town of Lijiang. It is believed that the number of the trees which are over 800 years old is more than 40.
The quarter of delicate edifices sprawling from the bottom of mountain, is the phenomenal Mu Mansion. The Mu family had been governing the Lijiang vicinity, by succession, for approximately 470 years since 1253 AD, throughout the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. The quarter generally models on the imperial architectures in Beijing, with all the building erected symmetrically along a central axis and covers an area of over 30,000m2. It’s a harmonious combination of the Central China architectural style during the Ming Dynasty, with a touch of Tang, Song style and the traditional Nakhi approach. The Lion Mountain had always been the venue for sacrificial ceremonies and major praying hosted by the Mu family.
On the southern end of the park is the White Horse Dragon Pond Temple constructed during Qianlong’s reign in the Qing Dynasty. The White Horse Dragon Pond is in fact a fountain on the east end of the temple, which was dubbed as the “sacred fountain” by the Nakhi people, for it had been the main source of fresh water for centuries, feeding generations and generations of Nakhi residents.
Opposite on the northern end of the Park, Wenchang Palace and the Shuangshi (double stone) Garden are two of the signature landmark of Lijiang.
Built during the Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng era, Wenchang Palace, with a history of more than 280 years behind it, was formerly the governmental property where the National Public Servant Screening Test was held and the socializing venue for local big wigs and intelligentsias, now it’s equipped with restaurants serving authentic ethnic cuisine. The Double Stone Garden features another landmark of Lijiang, a gargantuan set of waterwheels, standing in the Yushui River, which is a memorial copy of the traditional Nakhi watermill.