Huaiyuan Town— “Visible, Edible and Portable”
By Yang Bo
The history of Huaiyuan Town can be traced back to 4,500 years ago in the Neolithic Age. According to legends, the town was once home to Tushanshi who was the wife of Dayu, the hero who tamed flood and was so dedicated to his work that he passed his home for three times without getting in. The legend of Dayu also leaved many cultural relics in the town.
Blessed with a rich history of 1,700 years, the town once had different names, which made it more mysterious and enchanting. Owing to the popularity of another town nearby and poor construction, Huaiyuan was distant from tourists.
After the great earthquake happened in Sichuan in 2008, the Chongqing Road sponsored by Chongqing municipality was built in Chongzhou, attracting a few drivers who fancy quiet paths and cyclers who travel for long. It was then praised highly as the most beautiful country road and appealed more tourists from afar who realized that the town could be as popular as other booming towns for its geographical advantage, rich history, distinctive cultural and architectural features.
Huaiyuan Town is famous for its numerous streets and lanes. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing dynasty, there had been 4 streets. It grew into 8 streets and then 21. Streets kept expanding while temples, churches, and guildhalls were built, reaching an incredibly large scale. Experts were also surprised by its large scale and affirmed its importance.
As a hub of traffic and goods, the town is blessed with provincial intangible cultural heritage, namely, Huaiyuan Rattan Weaving and Three Amazing Food. The former has a long history and develops fast in recent years. The latter refers to Huaiyuan parfait, rice dumpling with salty pork and tofu pudding, integrating Sichuan style and local flavor.
To the south of the town, Chongqing Road links Yanxia Lake with Mount Heming. In the north, Dingjiang Bridge connects to Jiuzhai Valley. West Sichuan Circle leads to Jiezi Town and Mount Fengxi. In the east, there’re several towns and lakes. In the west lies West River, Wenjing River, Anzi River Natural Reserve and the forests park of Mount Jiguan.
Therefore, whatever lines you choose and wherever you go, you’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery in all seasons and embrace natural and ecological environment.
Spot one: Ten-Household Yard and Empress Palace.
Ten-household Yard sits in the middle of Xiaxin Street and got the name for the ten families who had lived there. It carries the typical style of Qing dynasty with a square shape, green eaves, curving chairs, white walls and intricate decorations.
Empress Palace, also called the ancestral hall of Lin, is located in Dashun Street. It embraces both eastern and western styles. According to archaeological results, Lin people moved from Fujian province and built the hall in 1831. At first it was a guildhall for the worship of the Goddess of Sea, and later changed to Empress Palace. In 1934, an armed uprising conducted by the Communist Party of China against the Nationalist Party made Empress Palace famous.
Spot two: ancient tower and doors
The town is beside rivers and therefore a tower was built here as a guardian. Built in 1866, the tower has six angles and nine floors, overlooking mountains and rivers and carrying people’s aspiration for auspice. The town being a strategic path throughout history, the doors are equipped with irons. People passing through had to be inspected and there was a couplet in the ancient west door.
Spot three: food, art and craft.
Food and craft are famous in the town. As is mentioned, one of the snacks, tofu pudding, was first made in Ming dynasty more than 500 years ago. In the past, the pudding was made within distance of the town and today it can be sold overseas. Parfait was created in the Republic of China with new technique and changed size. It tastes soft and glutinous, oily but not greasy. A senior in North Song dynasty made the rice dumpling with fragrance and pork. It is glutinous but not sticky to plates, chopsticks or teeth.
Craftsmen live in the Zongsheng Street and make living by weaving rattans. It takes only two days to finish rattan crafts. As to bamboo weaving, it has been a necessity in households with many furniture made of bamboo. The Huaiyuan Ratten Weaving enjoys the longest history. It was and is still a thriving sector and pillar of the town. Factories of rattan weaving line up the streets for a thousand meters, which is a spectacle.
Tips for travelling:
Traffic: Take a bus from Chadianzi Bus Station to the town.
Entrance fee: for free
Food: three typical snacks: Huaiyuan parfait, rice dumpling with salty pork and tofu pudding.