Xuanyue Archway Scenic Area
( chinadaily.com.cn )
The Xuanyue Archway Scenic Spot lies to the north of Wudang Mountain, consisting of such sights such as Xuanyue Archway, the Immortal Meeting Palace, the Yuanhe Temple and the Jade Void Palace.
This three-bay five-story stone architecture has four pillars. It was built in 1552, and is 12 meters high and 12.36 meters wide. Four Chinese characters on its horizontal board were decreed by Emperor Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) signifying that the Emperor would rule the country by Wudang Taoism and the Zhenwu god.
This not only reflects the Emperor Jiajing's political wishes from Wudang Mountain and God Zhenwu, but also shows Wudang's eminent position at that time. The stone memorial gateway was designed by Lu Jie. He engraved words on both sides. The gate's top and edges are carved with the patterns of cranes and eight immortals greeting visitors. They are masterpiece of national stone carvings.
The Taoism takes Xuanyue Archway as the boundary of celestial world and the ordinary world. There is an old saying: “Once you enter the archway, you have entrusted the deities with your life.” The 35 kilometer-long distance from ancient Jun Zhou to Xuanyue Archway is the official passage paved by broad, flat square stones. Along this passage are more than 100 palaces and temples such as Jun Zhou City, Jing Le Palace, Yin En Palace, San Yuan Palace and Zhou Fu Hut. All are located below Danjiangkou Reservoir.. The 35 kilometers from Xuanyue Archway to the Golden Summit is the divine passage, and the scenery is breathtaking.
Previously, in front of the Xuanyue Archway there were Divining Official Palace, Xuan Du Palace and Hui Xin Hut. They were all ruined except for the gilded bronze Divining Official and Six Jia God statues. Those statues weigh 500 kilograms each and are at Yuan He Temple now. Formerly, there was an antithetical couplet on the Divining Official Palace Gate, punishing wickedness and praising goodness. Tradition has it that all the pilgrimages that brought incense to the mountain will go to the Divining Official Palace first to burn incense. Those who give no incense will be punished by the divining officials and come across disaster.
Jade Void Palace (Yuxu Palace)
There are three entrances to the palace. Only immortals could enter the palace through the central entrance. The two entrances on both sides of it were for Taoists and officials. If you go into the palace through the left entrance, you should first raise your left leg to stride over the threshold. If you step into the palace through the right entrance, you should stride the threshold with you right leg first. Do not stand on the threshold, which does not show respect for the gods. The etiquette of paying homage to the Taoist gods is different from that of Buddhism. The followers of Taoism usually hold two hands together before their breast and prostrate themselves before the images of the Taoist gods with bended knees three times and kowtow nine times.
The palace was built in 1412 during the Ming Dynasty. It was the largest architectural complex among the Taoist constructions on Wudang Mountain. The layout is similar to that of the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Restricted by the topographical conditions, the palace faces north. Other imperial palaces in China face south. The Yuxu Palace complex is divided into three sections with three city walls. The outer city has three successive gates. Inside the outer city, there is Taishan Temple on the east and Temple of Heaven and Altar of the Earth on the west. Along both sides of the central axis are two pavilions housing two stone tablets, the inscription of which was written by Emperor Jiajing.
Forbidden City is in the center of Yuxu Palace with six successive gates. Within the palace gates there is a 25,000 square meter courtyard paved with large slabs. In the courtyard stood two pavilions housing tablets on which the imperial edicts of Emperor Yongle were inscribed. Lile City is in the back. Along both sides of the axis of the Imperial Harem stood Longhu Palace (Dragon-Tiger Palace), Chaobai Hall (the Pilgrimage Hall) and Xuandi Palace (the Palace of Revelation of Holy Spirit). Within the limits of the palace, there are more than 300 structures. It was the second Imperial Palace in the Ming Dynasty. But unfortunatel,y Yuxu Palace was brought to ruins by a chaotic war in 1745. Now you can still see some of the structures, such as the wall shaped like the character 八，the pavilions housing stone tablets, the Worship Platform, the Flower Terrace, Jade-belt River and wells and ponds.