Huaqing Hot springs in the vicinity of Xian
The Huaqing Chi Hot Springs and the Legend of Beautiful Yang Guifei
The famous thermal springs Huaqing Chi is associated with a beautiful love story of Chinese Emperor Xua Xuanzong of Tang and his concubine Yang Guifei. Yang Guifei was considered to be one of the four most beautiful women in Chinese history. It was13 centuries ago, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang went silly over this girl, neglecting the management of state affairs, spending all time with Yang Guifei. When the rebellion broke out in the country, Yang Guifei committed suicide. According to another version she was killed by courtiers, who blamed her and her family in the collapse of the state.
The Huaqing Chi Hot Springs were a favorite place for the emperor and his concubines, where they spent all winters. It is a huge palace and park complex with 60 baths, gardens, gazebos and pavilions with such romantic names like Whispering Dragon, Flying Frost. The palace itself is called the Palace of Glorious Purity. The place was discovered three thousand years ago, but became widely known only under Xuanzong, who arranged this complex for his beloved Yang Guifei.
The water in the bath was fed from underground mineral springs with temperatures ranging from 43 to 110°C. The swimming pools were separated. There was Crabapple Pool for the concubines, Shangshi Pool for the officials, Star Pool for members of the royal family and so on. Yang Guifei had a private pool built in the shape of lotus petals. It was found in the palace inner chambers and was adjacent to the concubine’s bedroom. Due to the constant bathing in mineral waters, Guifei managed to stay young and beautiful.
Today Huaqing Hot Springs are a popular spa resort in China. It is located 25 km to the north-east of Xi'an at the foot of Lishan Mount with the Wei River flowing from the north. It is visited by hundreds of thousands of Chinese and foreign tourists every year. But it is not just a beautiful legend that beckons them there.
The visitors have a hundred of baths with water fed through the pipes from hot underground springs. The water contains sulfur, silica, alumina and other minerals which have a healing effect on patients with skin diseases and arthropathy. One and a half hour spent in such bath relieves both muscle fatigue and inflammation, but a bath more than one and a half hours is not recommended.
Still, the Huaqing Hot Springs are, first of all, a historical place. The old baths have been restored, completed with the construction of new ones in the same style - the whole complex preserves the original look, which it had under the Tang Dynasty.
The place is picturesque, as, indeed, all Chinese gardens and parks. At the entrance to the complex there is a huge rock with carved hieroglyphs indicating the sources. Directly beneath them, clouds of thick steam rise above the pool. The visitors have to pass through so-called the Lunar Gate, to find themselves right in front of the artificial the Nine Dragons Lake with a clean and clear water. The lake is surrounded with willows growing around and with Chinese houses in gilded tiles, pavilions with upturned roofs eaves, typical for Chinese traditional architecture. The juice of the trees, which never turn yellow and lose their leaves the whole year round, growing around the lake, is supported by thermal springs.
In its southern part, the Nine Dragons Lake is connected with the Lotus Pond, and in its northern part, in front of the entrance, there is a pavilion with a bronze phoenix, symbolizing rebirth and eternal life.
Above the basin there is a museum, and behind the complex there is a forest. On the Lishan hillside you can see the Taoist Temple Nu Wa (Temple of Old Mother, who created a human being according to a Chinese legend). To have a good view of the surrounding attractions and enjoy a panoramic view of the complex you can ride on the cable car.
You can get the sources with the “water of life” by Beijing-Xian plane, and then, for half an hour, by taxi or shuttle bus № 306, 307. The cost of visiting the sources ranges from $6 to $11 depending on the season. Next to the spa there is a hotel, you can also stay at one of the Lintong hotels, located 1 km from the sources. Around the Huaqing there are also many restaurants where you can taste the local food.