Dongguan Mosque & Sun and Moon Mountain

Dongguan Mosque

Situated in Dongguan Street, Xining City, Dongguan Mosque is the biggest mosque in Qinghai Province. It was built in 1380, and now boasts a history of more than 600 years. The Mosque is not only famous for its magnificent architecture but also as a religious education center and as the highest learning institution of Islam.

Covering an area of 11,940 square meters (about 3 acres), Dongguan Mosque is built on a grand scale. Its style combines both Chinese traditional architectural art and Islamic architectural features. When traveling here, the first thing you can see is the elegant arched door on which is written 'Dongguan Mosque'. On either side of the front door stands the Xuanli Lou (Xuanli Pavilion). The Xuanli Lou is special as the place where the Imams invite people to pray. It is 8 meters (some 26 feet) high, and consists of three floors which are hexagonal in shape.

There is a square with an area of some 30,000 square meters (about 7 acres). The prayer hall is the main building in Dongguan Mosque. It covers an area of 1,136 square meters (about 0.3 acres). The whole prayer hall is resplendent and magnificent. It can hold more than 3,000 people at prayer at the same time. Since the Mosque was built, it has become an important place of worship and assembly for Muslims. When Islam's important festivals come round, tens of thousands of the Prophet's followers from every quarter come to participate in ceremonies and religious activities. On such occasions, the Mosque wears a festival mood.
Gate of Dongguan Mosque
Chapel of Dongguan Mosque

Transportation:

Take bus no. 1, 2, 5, 10, 14, 17, 22, 23, 25, 26, 33, 81, 83, 101, 102 or 103, get off at Bei Xiao Jie Kou Station and then walk around 109 yards (100 meters) toward east to find the mosque.

Admission Fee: Free of charge
Opening Hours: 08:00 to 12:00; 14:00 to 17:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: 30 minutes

Sun and Moon Mountain

Situated 40 kilometers (25 miles) from southwest of Huangyuan County in Xining, Sun and Moon Mountain (Riyue Mountain) marks the boundary between the eastern agricultural area and the western pastoral area of Qinghai Province. From the top of the mountain there is a superb panorama of the beautiful landscape - both prairie and farmland. It is 3,520 meters (11,549 feet) above the sea level and is believed to be the only road to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Born with the name of Red Ridge, the Sun and Moon Mountain had been an important thoroughfare to western China for many years and a crucial link between Han and Zang (Tibetan) people. There is a legend concerning it: In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the emperor gave in marriage his daughter, Princess Wencheng, to the leader of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo to improve the relationship between the two nations. When the princess reached this mountain and took a break, she felt a surge of homesickness. She took out the precious Sun and Moon Mirror given to her by her father because she was told that it would show her hometown while yearning for her home. But she resolutely threw down the mirror so as not to miss her country any more, and continued her journey to the west. The mirror was broken in two pieces shaped like the moon and sun. From then, the mountain got its name, Sun and Moon Mountain.

Highlights
The Daotang (backflowing) River springs from the west of the Sun and Moon Mountain flowing west to the Qinghai Lake (the largest inland salt lake in China). Again there is a well-known legend concerning the Princess Wencheng. When she passed by the mountain, her tears of homesickness dropped and became the Daotang (Backflowing) River. Its flow westward symbolizes the princess's resolution to never return. In fact, it is the only river flowing from the east to the west in China.

The Ri (Sun) Pavilion and the Yue (Moon) Pavilion were built on each side of the mountain pass in memory of Princess Wencheng. Vivid murals are painted to re-create the scene when the princess enters Tibet and her life there. In the twin pavilions, the Yue Pavilion particularly depicts the great pomp of the cultural communication Princess Wencheng brought to Tibet, including crop seeds, technology, medicine, and Buddhism. It was she who brought civilization to Tibet.

The period from June to September is the best time to travel there with verdant grasses, wild flowers and tents on the slopes of the mountain providing the crowning touch to its plateau landscape.

Transportation:

Take bus from Xining Xinninglu Bus Station to Huangyuan, and then charter a car to visit the mountain. It costs around CNY 90 for a round trip.

Admission Fee: CNY 40
Opening Hours: 08:00-17:00
Best Time to Visit: May - September

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