Asia | China | Sichuan Province | Chengdu | Azure City Mountains – Where humans become immortals
I said goodbye to Zhenyun, and left the back hills, passing through its pretties part, Wulong Groove. A couple of people had highly recommended the front hills of Qingcheng, dotted with Taoist temples. My feet were already blistering from the past two days, but I thought it would be a shame to forego it when I was only 10 miles away. So I took the lazy woman’s approach and went up by the chair lift. Up in Taiching Palace, the biggest temple on the mountains, the monks and nuns were busy sustaining themselves by selling cold noodles and incense. A monk sat behind the counter and enjoyed his pipe so much that he couldn’t be bothered to tell me who the statues in some of the halls were.
Part of the temple had been turned into a gallery. One fo the artists was patiently persuading a couple of middle aged businessmen to purchase his painting. ‘It’s only $200. What’s that for people like you who work in America?’ I thanked Buddha that no one tried selling anything but corn pancakes to me after seeing my muddy shoes.
A 40 minute walk off the main trail showed me why Qingcheng was called ‘most serene’. No one else was on the mossy trail along the verdant cliffs but a faint and melancholy echo of flute played in the distant valley. Sichuan also had a saying that Qingcheng is where humans become immortals. It was as if a divine power had been floating in the cracks between the cliffs and extracting the soul of the mountains, and then mixing it into the smoke that rose out of the incense sticks in the big bronze incense holder in front of every temple. Looking at the eight diagrams sign on the top of hte main hall in Taiching Palace through the smoke, it was as if an immortal was hiding in the veil to observe its devotees through some magical power.