By Sonia Ahmed | 12 August 2020
The sacred Wudang Shan is home to clusters of ancient palaces, temples, and monasteries; the first one was constructed under the rule of Emperor Tang Taizong back in 627-649 AD. These buildings are the birthplace of Daoism, the indigenous Chinese religion.
That’s one of the reasons why most western tourists visit the Wudang mountain to get authentic Tai Chi training (also known as Chinese shadowboxing) at the Wudang Shaolin Dream School within the Purple Cloud Temple.
Architectural Features of Mount Wudang
Located in the Hubei province of China and known as the birthplace of Tai Chi, Wudang mountain is known for the legend of Zhen Wu who used to practice Taoism on these trails. It’s here that Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist scholar during the Ming dynasty, is credited with the invention of Tai Chi.
According to legends, one day he observed a snake’s defensive techniques during a fight with a bird. The snake’s still and alert demeanor inspired him to invent the 72 defensive positions of Tai Chi.
Covering 312 sq km of area, the Wudang mountain is renowned for its natural landscape which includes 72 peaks, many rugged rocks, streams, 11 mystic caves, and several ponds.
It is impossible to visit all the ancient temples and palaces on Wudang Mountain in a single day trip. But you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the entire Wudang National Geopark from above through a cable car tour.
You can ride past the mountain’s highest peak, the Tianzhu Peak, and the Palace of Harmony up its top. You can view the Forbidden City famous for its thick stone walls and the bronze palace of the Golden Shrine.
The cable car also hovers past the South Cliff Palace, Yuxu Palace, Yuzhen Palace, and the high archway of the Xuanwu Gate. With colored mosaic tiles and yellow glazed cravings on the roof, the Purple Cloud Temple stands out on the Zhanqi peak.
Purple Cloud Palace - Chinese Architectural Masterpiece
Purple Cloud Palace, covering 6,850 square meters, was built during the Song dynasty in China. It was rebuilt during the reign of the Ming dynasty. Today the palace is an ideal place to witness Tao architecture and culture and learn Tai Chi at the Wudang Shaolin Dreams School.
The interior of the palace consists of Dragon hall, Purple Sky hall, the Shifang hall, and the most beautiful Parents' hall where the sacred statues of the parents of Zhen Wu stand. The Purple Cloud temple is a UNESCO world heritage site for its old temples and structures.
The building exemplifies the ancient Chinese architecture that stands in harmony with nature around it. That’s why some portion of the Zixiao Palace is built on the hills, some in the valleys, and some between the cliffs following the landform.
The surrounding area of the Purple Cloud Temple is famous for rocky pathways best suited for hiking. The rugged stairs require great stamina but the stunning scenes are worth the hike.
When it rains, misty fog surrounds the palace that doubles the joyful experiences and in Winters, the snow covered peaks, terraces, and palace rooftops look magnificent.
Wudang Shaolin Dream - The Cradle of Modern Martial Arts
The Wudang Shaolin Dream currently has three schools: Shaolin school, a few miles away from Shaolin temple, Dengfeng academy, and Wudang martial arts school at Ziaxio palace.
Since the Shaolin Dream School lies within the Purple Cloud temple, it gives traveling students a prestigious opportunity to learn directly under the supervision of the experienced monks within an authentic Taoist temple.
Florian, a french martial artist and the cultural exchange consultant in Hubei, founded this school to give the travelers an opportunity to familiarize with Taoist aspects of Mount Wudang during their stay in the temple.
Currently, Wudang Martial Arts School is famous for its research on fighting arts. They are constantly inventing and improving modern martial arts and meditation techniques.
Training at the Wudang Shaolin Dream School
The school realizes every student comes with a purpose in his mind. Some visit to immerse in the Taoist culture while others come for learning and initiation. Therefore, the school has multiple adaptable courses for both Shaolin and Wudang styles of martial arts.
The school provides customized courses for groups and individuals but the medium of instruction is the Chinese language so that students can familiarize with it during their stay. However, if you wish, the school can arrange a translator for you.
The students stay at a hotel near the temple, built by monks with all the modern facilities for the students.
Most of the training rounds are scheduled within the main temple to give you a religious perception behind the moves. However, the school has access to the entire Wudang geopark. That is why it often arranges tours to the scenic sites to train in different temples and palaces nearby.
Weekends are free for the students to come and go as they please. Most students prefer to explore the nearby temples and palaces. School also arranges these hikes if students want to enjoy it with their friends.
Along with authentic martial arts teaching, many optional Chinese language and calligraphy courses and traditional tea and herbal medicine learning is also a part of the courses at Wudang school. Your visit to the Purple Cloud Temple can be a complete learning experience so make sure you plan for more days to soak into the spirit of Wudang Mountain.