Mt Wudang is a magnificent string of peaks in the northwest of Hubei province. The mountain attracts crowds of vacationers throughout the year, as well as Taoist believers, and devotees of Chinese neijia gongfu, which means "internal Kung Fu." While it is not one of the five sacred mountains of China, it still has huge religious significance for the Chinese. It is also known for being home to a martial arts school that invites not only Chinese, but also travelers to join. The Purple Heaven Temple is also built on the mountainside, and is a sacred religious site for Taoists.
The Wudang Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and attracts hikers from all over the world, wanting to take on the challenge of its highest peak, which stands at an awe-inspiring 5,288 feet. The mountain range is sometimes considered to be part of the Daba Mountains that run through Hubei, Chongqing and Sichuan. Climbers of Mt Wudang can admire the steep ravines, rivulets, rock faces, and towering peaks that characterize the mountain. Along with Mt Lushan, and Mt Tai, it is one of the highest mountains in China outside of the Himalayas. However, it is not only the natural landscape that has made Wudang Mountains one of the most famous mountain chains in China, but also its association with Taoism and Kung Fu.
Historically, the mountain has been home to numerous Taoist monasteries, which became known as academic centers for the teaching, research and practice of Chinese martial arts, as well as of meditation and medicine. Today, Wudang Kung Fu is well-known as a special branch of the martial arts. The palaces and temples in Wudang were built in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries during the Ming Dynasty. The Purple Heaven Temple, on Zhanqifeng Peak, was built in the fifteenth century. It is one of the most sacred temples to the Chinese, and includes cultural relics dating back to the seventh century.
The Purple Heaven Temple was originally made up of 860 buildings. Among the buildings that still stand today, are several highly decorated halls, including the Purple Heaven Hall, the Dragon and Tiger hall, and the Parents Hall. The Purple Heaven Hall is the main buildings, and holds the bronze statues that depict the Great Perfect Warrior Emperor through the stages of his life, from young, to middle aged and old, in civil and military dress. Tours of China regularly take in Wudang Mountains to give visitors insight into its cultural and historical significance.
The easiest way to get to the Wudang Mountains is to take a train or bus to Wudang Shan, a small tourist town. Trains connect to Beijing (a sleeper takes twenty hours), Wuhan (seven hours), and Xiangfan (two hours). Buses depart regularly to Shiyan, the nearest large town at an hour away, or to Wuhan or Xiangfan, among other destinations. There is plenty of accommodation at Wudang Shan, which is geared to welcome tourists and dedicated hikers.
The surrounding province of Hubei often tempts visitors to Mt Wudang to stay and explore the surrounding area. Many choose to visit the East Lake, to the east of Wuchang City, China's biggest lake within a city. Hubei also boasts the impressive Yangtze Three Gorges Dam, the largest water conservation project in the world. The project has been compared to the Great Wall of China, as a massive feat of human endeavour. It's best to visit Hubei in spring or autumn, as it tends to be hot and humid in summer, and many visitors find it too cold to climb Mt Wudang in the winter.