by Lauren T
November 5, 2001
Purple Mountain is really enormous for a park located within such a large city. It takes thirty minutes in a cable car to get to the top of the mountain--basically the central point in the park. From there, most people walk down the mountain to look at the scenery and sites of tourist interest at various points along the mountain. When you are up in the cable car, you really get a feel for how big the place is. It makes a lush, green, peaceful retreat from the busy and polluted city of over 6 million people surrounding it.
In theory, Purple Mountain park is home to an impressive array of cultural treasures, many from the Ming Dynasty. However, they can be very difficult to find, as they are scattered about the park and little help is given to find them. There is a remarkable shortage of signs to show you where to go and the maps available are really horrible. Employees we asked for help seemed unable or unwilling to steer us in the appropriate direction.
We found a few statues, including an enormous Buddha that is very easy to find because it is close to the site where you disembark the cable cars at the top of the mountain. I am guessing it a relatively recent construction since the surface finish is chipped in places to reveal that the Buddha is made of concrete. Still, it is a lot of fun because you can climb on the Buddha--ten people can sit on comfortably on his belly. We also found some buildings which looked to be of some historical importance but were not marked in English. They were okay, but not the spectacular cultural treasures I was expecting to find. Spectacular cultural treasures may be there, we just weren't able to find any before we ran out of time and had to leave.
Another thing, for a park that is regarded as a premier tourist attraction, the pathways are horribly maintained. If you plan on walking down the mountain, you must be in decent shape and wearing appropriate shoes and clothes for mountain hiking. If you have any doubts, don't try it. Take the cable car up to the top of the mountain and then back down again. The place is a sprained ankle (or worse) waiting to happen.
Okay, so the paths weren't wonderfully well-maintained, materials to steer you in the right direction were inadequate, and I didn't find the historical treasures I was seeking. Aside from that, I really enjoyed it. The scenery was lovely, the weather perfect, and the hike across the mountain was a lot of fun. Maybe I didn't find the fascinating relics of ancient China that I sought (which probably were hiding around there somewhere), but I found a good place for a nature hike.
From journal Weekend in Nanjing