Our good friend, Luo Qiu Ping has once again volunteered to drive us up to Yuelu Mountain, overlooking Changsha. Our first stop is Wan JingYuan a miniature plant and Bonsai park. The park was built in 1985 and features about 6600 square meters of potted landscaping. Wan JingYuan has ponds, a greenhouse, a flower room, and a visitor center. This miniature landscape park atop Yuelu Mountain boggles the mind with it’s impressive displays of bonsai and the container gardening.
Our next stop is at Yunlu Palace, a Taoist temple built in 1478. Although the weather today is not the best it could be, Yunlu is a great place to gaze down at downtown Changsha from this lofty peak.
Our last stop on Yuelu Mountain is at the Yuelu Academy, considered one of the 4 most prestigious academies in China in the last 1000 years. Yuelu Academy was started in 976 in the Northern Song Dynasty. In 1926 it was converted into a museum when Hunan University opened. Today we’re in luck. In the distance we can hear a traditional music concert. After the concert we find a gallery in the Academy that features an exhibit of sandstone painting by local artist Chen Chuhua, who invented the technique of painting with tiny stones in 1980. There are numerous beautiful places in Yuelu Academy, many ponds with waterfalls and parks and private gardens designed for contemplation and relaxation. In a pavilion along the path around one pond, we find some ancient calligraphy carved into stones, now protected behind iron bars. Later we find the college bookstore – what academy would be without one? The Yushu library was originally used for lectures and memorial ceremonies and as a library. Today with over 50000 books, it is still used by university students and faculty. In one of the many halls, originally used for classes, is an exhibit of the history of Yuelu Academy. Many of Yuelu Academy’s most famous graduates and supporters are immortalized here in bronze. There are displays of famous teachers and the books they used through the years. An ancient ornate professor’s desk and cabinet are also on display. An endless array of artifacts and architectural fragments from Yuelu Academy’s ancient past are on display for our perusal.