Guyuan Travel Guide
Chinese Name: 固原 (gù yuán)
Area: 10,541.4 square kilometers (4,070.06 square miles)
Location: in the south of Ningxia Province, northwest China
Administrative Division: 1 district (Yuanzhou); 4 counties (Xiji, Longde, Jingyuan, Pengyang)
Area Code: 0954
Zip Code: 756000
GDP (2018): CNY 30.319 billion (USD 4.582 billion)
Nationalities: Han, Hui, Manchu, Mongolian
Site of Mount Sumeru Grottoes & Liupan Mountains
Guyuan lies in the south of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on the west bank of the upper reaches of the Qingshui River and northeast of the Liupan Mountains. The city is bordered by Zhongwei and Wuzhong to the north and by Gansu Province on the other three sides. In the past, Guyuan was crucial to religious transmission from western China to the inland. Ancient Islamic civilization and Central Plains culture mingled here.
As the main Hui settlement, Guyuan has many beautiful mosques. Also, there are natural and cultural landscapes with distinctive features. The central part is a cultural tourism area composed of the Guyuan Museum, Guyuan Ancient City, Great Wall and Prince Anxi’s Mission. Up to now, Guyuan Museum has collected more than 20,000 cultural relics, including jade articles, porcelain, gold and silver wares and bronze wares. The ten major Chinese grottoes, Mount Sumeru Grottoes and Yuntai Mountain with Danxia landform are in the north.
Guyuan Attractions - Things to Do
Liupan Mountains Tourist Zone
Lying in the south of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Liupan Mountain is also called Longshan Mountain. It is the boundary mountain of Longxi (Southeast part of Gansu Province) Loess Plateau and Shaanbei (Northern part of Shaanxi Province) Loess Plateau, and also the water-shed of Jinghe River and Weihe River. In successive dynasties, it was the connecting part of northern nomadic culture and central Chinese civilization, and also a stronghold of significant military importance.
Liupan Mountain, extending 149 miles from north to south, adds a piece of precious greenness on the loess plateau. Spanning across Longde, Guyuan and Jingyuan Counties, the mountain covers an area of 67,800 hectares, with seventy percent of which is covered by thick forest. Due to its nice native vegetation and biodiversity of species, it is famed as "Green Island" or "Wet Island". The land is the home to various plants and animals. There are 150 kinds of plants of high economic value, 213 kinds of vertebrates, 158 kinds of birds, and 905 kinds of insects. Amongst them, the leopard is under national first class protection.
Liupan Mountain embraces over 60 scenic spots distributed in six tourist landscapes: Erlong (Two Dragons) River, Laolong (Old Dragon) Pool, Liangdian Gorge, Guimen Guan (the Gate of Hell), Hehua (Lotus Flower) Garden and Baiyun (White Cloud) Mountain. The mountain is blessed with both the grandeur of northern scenery and the grace of southern vistas. In spring, the mountain is a pleasing flower world. In summer, it is a land free from the boiling weather. In autumn, the mountain is covered by a spectacle of shining golden colors, and the color changes into silver white when winter brings snows to it.
Liupan Mountain, besides its charming and beautiful landscapes, is largely endowed with Hui Culture. The unique architecture, food culture, and folk arts of Hui people make the mountain more attractive to visitors. It is no doubt a satisfactory place for sightseeing and scientific research.
Admission Fee: CNY 65
Mount Sumeru Grottoes
Among the ten most famous grottoes in China, they are located 34 miles northwest of Guyuan City in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The grottoes were built during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and were subsequently enlarged during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618 – 906) Dynasties. They remain the largest Buddhist relics in the Guyuan area.
Mount Sumeru Grottoes houses about 150 caves arranged along eight Cliffside walls stretching for one mile. The grottoes feature eight scenic spots from north to south: Heishi Gou (Black Stone Channel), Sange Yao (Three Caves), Songshu Wa (Pine Hollow), Taohua Dong (Peach Blossom Cave), Xiangguo Temple, Yuanguang Temple, Zisun Palace and Big Buddha Tower. There are over 350 cliffside images including stone tablets, inscriptions, and mural paintings.
Unlike Longmen and Yungang Grottoes which were built in the high cliffs to offer visitors a panoramic view, Mount Sumeru Grottoes were built along the contour of the mountains. Some of the caves are hidden and some are visible and they all seem to come in endless variations. The grottoes tend to reflect the unique style of the epoch in which they were created. For example, the Buddha statues in the Northern Wei Dynasty retain the flavor of Indian Buddhism. The Sui’s Buddha statues are simple and pristine while the Tang’s sculpture achieve near perfection. The latter’s statues are full-size figures wearing luxurious attire reflecting the sophistication and quality of Tang Dynasty art.
Mount Sumeru Grottoes are a cultural icon and an important site for researching religious art.
How to Get to Guyuan
1. Guyuan Liupanshan Airport is 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) from downtown Guyuan and 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) north from Liupan Mountains Tourist Zone. Presently, the airport has 6 domestic flights to/from Yinchuan, Xi’an, Tianjin, Shanghai, Fuzhou, and Chongqing. Also, there is airport shuttle bus running to downtown.
2. The distances from Guyuan to Lanzhou and from Guyuan to Yinchuan are nearly the same. The city is 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Lanzhou, about a 6 hour drive on national road. There is also a highway which would be faster but the national road condition is better. Yinchuan is about 330 kilometers (205 miles) from Guyuan, which will take three and a half hours by highway.
3. Guyuan Bus Station stands to the entrance of the Damingcheng Highway. At the Yinchuan tourism bus station in Donghuan Bei Lu, there are buses shuttling between these two cities.
Enjoying a temperate continental monsoon climate, the city has a lower temperature that varies greatly during a year. The Guyuan weather features a cold spring and dry summer. The northern area is dry and abundant in warmth and sunshine, while the south is relatively wetter but warmth and sunshine are inadequate. The annual average temperature ranges between 5 and 7 degree centigrade (41-45 degree Fahrenheit). Summer is the most favorable for visiting due to the moderate temperature.
Guyuan Travel Tips
History: Old Guyuan sat at a vital pass in the east section of the ancient Silk Road. From long ago, it was a town of military importance connecting central Shaanxi to the western lands outside the Great Wall. In 114, the Han (206BC-220AD) Court established Gaoping Town, which is said to be the historical Guanyuan firmly recorded in history. By the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Guyuan had reached its zenith.