The Grand Yellow Emperor Mausoleum and What to See

The Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi Mausoleum) is as said the one for Xuanyuan, the earliest ancestor of the Chinese nation. It is located on the Qiaoshan Hill in the north of the county seat of Huangling to the south of Yan’an, Shaanxi Province.

Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Xian
Yellow Emperor Mausoleum

Overview of the Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor

The Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor, aka Huangdi Mausoleum, is the burial place of the Yellow Emperor, who is said the legendary ancestor of the Chinese nation.  Covering a total area of ​​2286.70 square kilometers, this site is located in the north of Qiaoshan in Huangling County, Yan’an City, Shaanxi Province, and has been claimed as the “First Mausoleum of China”.

Beyond being the resting place of the Yellow Emperor, this site is also known as the cradle of Chinese civilization. Visitors can add this site to your Xi’an trip is you want a deep connection to China’s ancient history and cultural heritage. Various historical and cultural relics can be seen here, such as the Hanwu Xiantai (Han Wu Divine Platform), Lingxing Gate, sacrificial pavilions, and burial mounds.

The unique architectural style is another highlight of the mausoleum, characterized by simplicity and elegance, and harmonizes with the surrounding landscape,  showcasing the majestic etiquette of ancient emperors and the exquisite craftsmanship of ancient Chinese architecture.

Annual Ceremony of Worshiping the Yellow Emperor

An annual ceremony is held at the mausoleum during the Qingming Festival, known as the Xuanyuan Huangdi Ceremony or the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum Ceremony. This event has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage.

There is a long history of honoring the Yellow Emperor. According to the historical records, this kind of ceremony can date back to 422 BC. Many emperors and notable figures throughout history, once conducted rituals to honor the Yellow Emperor, and one of the most renowned ceremonies was held by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty when he led 180,000 troops to the mausoleum for the ceremony.

Legend of the Yellow Emperor

According to the ” Biographic Sketches of Five Kings in Records of the Historian,” the Yellow Emperor is the son of Shaoqu, surnamed Gongsun and Xuanyuan his first name. ” On the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month he was born some 5,000 years ago at the Subduing Dragon Gorge, Zuyuan Pass by the riverside of the Zu on the northwest loess plateau of the Chinese soil. It was because of this there came with a saying that on the 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month the dragon raised its head which was considered to be something auspicious on the lips of the Chinese people.

Yellow Emperor's Mausoleum
Yellow Emperors Mausoleum

The loess plateau is broad and flat, simple and honest, vast and deep with rich and thick yet yellow soil. The yellow is the very color of the each, symbolizing auspicious happiness. It is greatly appreciated and valued by the ancients. The earth is the center of the five elements, on which all living beings depend for living and Xuanyuan assumed the King of the people thanks to his virtue of the earth, hence addresses as “Huangdi.”

Noted in the ancient record are the Three Emperors and Five Kings. Among them, Xuanyuan ranks the first of the three emperors and also the first of the five Kings. In the late period of Yandi when the society was in chaotic state, Xuanyuan staged an assault at Yandi and with the slogan for virtue and morality he called on the people to rise and defeated Yandi at Banquan. Taking the place of Yandi he styled himself the son of the heaven and went on to defeat Chiyou in the area of Zhulu, thereby putting all end to the wars in ancient times and unified the whole country.

This is the very first country with only one ruler on the Chinese soil. Elected the first emperor of the Chinese nation China set out on the road of civilization from the very moment onwards. The kings of Tang Yao, Yu Shun and the kings of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties are all the descendants of the Emperor Xuanyuan and so he is revered as the earliest ancestor of the Chinese nation.

Highlights of the Mausoleum: What to See & Do

Visit Xuanyuan Temple

A significant site within the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum complex, Xuanyuan Temple dates back to the Han Dynasty, serving as a primary site for worshiping the Yellow Emperor. Some key architectural features of the temple include the temple gate, the Hall of the Human Ancestor (constructed during the Ming Dynasty), the stele corridor on the east of the temple housing over 50 ancient stone tablets, and the main sacrificial hall.

In the courtyard of the temple are some ancient Cypress trees which are said planted by the Yellow Emperor and have been over 5,000 years old.

Explore the Mausoleum Area

The mausoleum area is located in the northern park the complex, consist of various landmarks, including ancient cypress trees, Hanwu Xiantai, sacrificial pavilion, and the Yellow Emperor’s burial mound.

Visitors can ascend along a mountain road to reach the tomb and the road is called Ascension Road. Along the road, visitors may encounter a Ming Dynasty stele known as the “Dismounting Stone”, which marks the spot where worshippers need to dismount from their horses or carriages in reverence. The tomb mound is surrounded by the ancient Cypress Forest.

To its south is “Hanwu Xiantai”, a large earth platform that is believed to have been constructed during Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, and offers a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.

Admire the Ancient Cypress Forest

The ancient cypress grove on the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum is said the oldest and best-preserved ancient cypress grove in China, boasting a history of thousands of years. This remarkable grove consists of over 80,000 cypress trees, among which over 30,000 trees have stood for over a millennium. Legend has it that one of the cypress trees in this area was planted by the Yellow Emperor over 5,000 years ago, and stands as a precious cultural heritage now.

Recommended Xi’an Tours including Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor

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