Xining, located in the eastern part, is the capital of Qinghai Province as well as the center of politics, economy, culture, and communications. In 121 B.C., the Han stationed troops in the Huangshui River valley, and General Huo Qubing (140117 B.C.) established the military base named Xipingting. In 1104, the third year of Emperor Chongning of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), Xipingting was renamed Xining, which was first recorded The year 1929 witnessed the founding of Qinghai Province, and Xining was made the capital seat. With the continental highland semi-dry climate, Xining has neither cold winter nor hot summer, and the annual mean temperature is 6.5c, making the city an ideal summer resort. Xining has an area of 400 square kilometers and a population of 1 million, 23 percent of whom are minority peoples, including Hui, Tibetan, Mongolian, Manchu, Tus, and Salar.
Main attractions of Xining and Qinghai province
Taer Monastery (Kumburm Monastery)
Located in Huangzhong County, 26 kilometers from Xining, Kumbum Monastery was built during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing of the Ming Dynasty (13681644). Covering an area of 40 hectares, the monastery is an ancient building complex in the Han style, consisting of halls, chapels, the temporary dwelling place of the Panchen Lamas, and rooms for monks. It is under national protection because it is the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Ge-lug-pa (or Yellow) Sect and one of the six largest monasteries for the Ge-lug-pa Sect of Lamaism in China. The monastery has a rich collection of relics. Every year, four grand religious activities are held here between the 14th and the 15th day of the first month and the fourth month, the 7th and the 8th day of the sixth month, and the 22nd and the 23rd day of the ninth month, on lunar calendar.
Situated on Dongguan Boulevard in downtown Xining, Dongguan Mosque is one of the four largest mosques in northwest China. The main hall of the mosque, 1,102 square meters in area, is large enough to hold 3,000 people. It was built in the style of palace in ancient China, accompanied by two-story buildings on both sides. In front of the main hall is a 30,000-square meter square laid with slab stones. Every Friday, the Mosque receives 10, 000 Moslems who come to worship.
Also known as Tuloushan, Beichan Temple is located on the North Hill in Xining. A Taoist temple, Beichan was first built during the Northern Wei period (386-534) on the hillside, topping dangerous rocks and bottoming a deep valley. The red crags on the hillside have been eroded, shaping like a Buddha. In the temple, there are nine grottoes and 18 caves, with painted patterns of sunken panels, murals, and statues of Buddha. The architectural structure of the two-story main building is unique and exquisite. The cable car at the foot leads to the top of the hill, where people can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Xining.
Located in Qutan Town, Ledu County, 80 kilometers from Xining, Qutan Monastery was built during the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty. Qutan Monastery is units understate protection, and it is famous for the Ming-style buildings, precious relics, and valuable murals of the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Also known as the Lesser Forbidden City, the pattern of the building complex resembles that of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with chapels, halls, pavilions, gallery of murals, Buddhist pagodas, and drum towers scattered symmetrically on both sides of the axis. The mural gallery with an area of 360 square meters has a collection of huge painted murals, vividly depicting the life of Sakyamuni. The colors of the murals are still bright after experiencing 600 years of wind and rain.
Located in Weiyuan Town, the seat of the Tu Autonomous County of Huzhu, 30 kilometers from Xining, the Tu Village has more than 100 families with over 500 inhabitants. The villagers speak their own language, and have their own tradition and culture. They are talented singers and dancers. The Tu women are good as embroidery, and their clothes are joined together with pieces of cloth in blue, black, yellow, white, and red, embodying the sky, the earth, harvest, good luck, and enthusiasm. Hence, the county is known as Home of the Rainbow.
The Liuwan Tombs, located in Liuwan Village, Gaomiao Town of Ledu County, 80km from Xining, is the largest tombs of primitive China, which are well preserved. The tombs cover an area of 110,000 square meters. The re are more than 1,500 tombs with 30, 000 relics unearthed belonging to the cultures of Majiayao, Machang, Qijia, and Xindian. The buried articles are mainly production tools. Such as axe, chisel, and knife, as well as pottery articles for daily use. Among the relics unearthed, the painted pottery statue is the most valuable, and has been listed as one of the state-level relics.
Beishan National Park
Seventy kilometers northeast of the Tu Autonomous County of Huzhu, 100 kilometers from Xining, the Beishan National Park has more than 1,000 species of plants and 100 species of wild animals. Consisting of five parts, the park boasts over 30 scenic spots, such as the Maple Leaves at Daban, the Snow View at Yuanpu, the Ancient Pines at Qinggang, and the Frog and Rain at Shilong. There are well-equipped tourist service- facilities, such as a guest-house, the Mountain Village at Shilong, a Tent Hotel, a restaurant, and a dance hall.
Located 30 kilometers east of the Tu Autonomous County of Huzhu, 65 kilometers from Xining, Gun-lung Monastery was established in 1604, the 32nd year during the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty. The monastery was first run by Geyser (Rgyalsras), the Seventh Living Buddha, and is now run by the 13th Living Buddha. The Qing emperor granted the living Buddha the title of Hutuktu, who have enjoyed high position. Religious activities, such as dance karma (mchams), and displaying the image of Buddha, are held during the 14th and 15th days of the first month on Tibetan calendar. Another grand traditional religious activity is held during the 7th and 9th days of the sixth month to commemorate Sakyamuni.
Mt. Riyue & Daotang River
The mountain was known as Chilling Range in ancient China. Legend has it that in the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Taizong granted Princess Wencheng a mirror named the Sun and the Moon before she married King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. The mirror was said to see Chang'an, then capital, and her relatives. When she passed through Chilling Range, the princess threw the Sun and the Moon onto the mountain. Hence the name. To commemorate Princess Wencheng, the local people built two pavilions named the Sun and the Moon respectively. At the northwestern foot of the mountain a river runs westward. Hence its name. It is said that the river water was tears of Princess Wencheng who suffered from homesick. Worried that someday the river would have reached Chang'an if it runs eastward, the princess prayed for turning its flow back. God was deeply moved and changed the flow of the river.
Located in northeast Qinghai Province, 150 kilometers from Xining, Qinghai Lake covers an area of 4,500 square kilometers, 3,200 meters above sea level. It is the largest inland salt lake in China, and is famous for alepidote, fresh, tender, which grows 500 grams 10 years. In summer time, flowers blossom along the lakeside inhabited by the Tibetans.
Located in the northwestern corner of Qinghai Lake, the island, less than 1 square kilometer, is a natural habitat of more than 100,000 migrant birds, including bar-headed geese, ruddy shel-ducks, cormorants, swans, and brown-headed gulls from southern China and the Indian Ocean. May and June are (he best time for admiring the birds. The flying birds blot out the sky and cover the sun, forming a splendid view on the island.
Kanbula National Park
Located in northwestern Jainca County, 131 kms from Xining, the Kanbula National Park covers an area of 39.17 square kms. This scenic spot consists of hills, eroded hillock, and small basins among mountains, with 50 tourist attractions, of which Danxia landformation, Buddhist temples,, and Liujia Gorge Power Station are the highlights. It is an ideal place for sightseeing, worshipping, and summer resort.
Mengda Heavenly Pond
Located in the east of Jishi Town, Xunhua County, 150 kms from Xining, the pond covers and area of 20hectares, and is 30meters in depth. The pond is surranded by ancient trees of 550 species, including spruce and Huashan pines. Among the dense forest, there are rare animals and birds, such as blue sheep and snow cocks. An ideal health resort, the place has become a state nature reserve.
Former Residence of the Tenth Pancen Lama
Located southwest of Jishi Town in the Salar Autonomous Couty of Xunhua, the Foer Residence of the Tenth Pancen Lama is a compound building complex with one-story houses in the south and three-story structures in Tibetan style. These buildings are brightly painted, elegant, grandeur and luxuriously decorated. In the north are chapels, which enshrines the dead of the Panchen Lama.
Longbaotan Nature Reserve
Located 80 kilometers northwest of Jiegu Town, the Longbaotan Nature Reserve is a long narrow basin hemmed in by mountains, with an area of 100 square kilometers. Yi Qu, a tributary of the Tongtian River, runs through the basin, forming five lakes with numerous springs. The crisscrossing lakes and marshes cut the area into sandbanks and small "islands." The advantageous natural condition makes it an ideal home for birds and aquatic animals and plants. The black-necked cranes are finder good protection and are held a holy bird bringing good luck and happiness. More than en species of birds, such as the black-necked cranes, bar-headed 3eese, and brown-headed gulls, come to breed every March and April.
Four Villages of Regong Art
The four villages including Shangxia Wutun, Nianduhu, Gasairi, and Guomari, in Tongren County, Tibet Autonomous Prefecture of Huangnan, are known as home to Buddhist paintings and sculptures, popular some 700 years ago. The techniques of the Regong art have been fully used in beautifying people's life, and can be found almost everywhere - on the walls, bricks, stones, clothes, and buildings.