Highway to scenic area steers into the fast lane

2020年07月10日09:08  来源:人民网-山西频道

The birthplace of renowned Buddhist monk Faxian, Xiantang Mountain is a top attraction in Xiangyuan county with dozens of Buddhist temples.

The birthplace of renowned Buddhist monk Faxian, Xiantang Mountain is a top attraction in Xiangyuan county with dozens of Buddhist temples.

As Shanxi enters the hot summer months, construction of a highway in the south of Taihang Mountains is accelerating.

Work on the Xiantangshan Sightseeing Road, with a total investment of 449.9 million yuan ($64.11 million), started in March in Xiangyuan county, Changzhi city. It is scheduled to be complete before the National Day holiday on Oct 1.

The road is part of the Taihang No 1 Highway which runs from the north to the south of Taihang Mountains.

The highway system includes a main stretch from Xinzhou in the north to Jincheng in the south that stretches 1,257 kilometers.

The main road, together with about 3,500 km of branch roads, will link hundreds of tourist destinations throughout 29 counties and six cities in Shanxi.

The Xiantangshan Sightseeing Road is to mainly serve a namesake tourist destination in Changzhi.

The Xiantangshan-or Xiantang Mountain-Scenic Area is one of the top destinations in Changzhi. It combines sightseeing and cultural and religious experiences as well as opportunities for recreation and relaxing.

With a vegetation coverage of almost 90 percent, the scenic area is home to more than 360 plant species. Its air and water quality reaches the nation's highest standards.

Xiantang Mountain was the birthplace of renowned Northern Dynasty (386-581) Buddhist monk Faxian.

Faxian, or Fa-hsien, was an important figure in the development of Buddhism in China. His journey to India in search of Buddhist sutras in AD 402 initiated Sino-Indian relations and his writings give important information about early Buddhism. After his return to China, he translated into Chinese many Sanskrit Buddhist texts he had brought back.

Some historians believe that Faxian was the first Asian to discover the Americas when his ship was driven astray by storms during his trip back to China.

Influenced by this great figure, Xiantang Mountain developed into a renown Buddhist site in the centuries that followed.

The mountain is home to dozens of Buddhist temples, a 19-meter Faxian statue, a 19-m Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue and a 59-m Sakyamuni statue.

However, poor roads have made travel difficult to this tourist site.

Zhang Jinsong, a local photographer, recalled the difficulties in building the 59-m Sakyamuni statue on top of Xiantang Mountain.

"The Buddha statue, with a height equal to a 22-story building, is the tallest bronze Buddha statue in the world.

"Special vehicles were purchased for transporting materials on the zigzagging, bumpy road and it took several months," Zhang said.

Travel was also not easy for tourists, Zhang said, as it would take hours from the Xiangyuan county seat, Changzhi Airport or the Taiyuan-Changzhi Expressway, which are all less than 60 km away.

"With the completion of the Xiantangshan Sightseeing Road, the travel time will be shortened to less than two hours," Zhang said.

Li Yali contributed to this story.