Huili—the Backyard of South Silk Road
By Li Xiaobo
Carrying two to four theatrical actors in sedan chairs through the streets was the most distinctive traditional activity in Huili. The main actors were the spring ox and summer saint. Carriers could come from all walks of life—farmers, vendors, butchers, carpenters, tailors, smiths, pawnbrokers and so forth. Farmers provided oxen. Various programs cultivated people and made the town more civilized.
With the integration ethnic minorities, Huili is blessed with all kinds festivals. The Torch Festival has been a part of normal life. Legend has it that burning kilns is one of the festive traditions. A senior man would pour wine into the kiln and add wood into it. With red and blue flames dancing, people yell out ‘red fire’ which also means booming and thriving.
Chinese ancient walls and doors are of great architectural significance, resembling the face of cities and recording history. Meanwhile, ancient cities are both close and open. On the one hand, ancient doors have been destroyed with the booming of economy. On the other hand, even relics and remains carry precious memory.
However, the protection of history and culture of Huili is not confined to partial areas but combines all the natural, economic, cultural and historical factors and revives the city.
The ancient town integrates natural scenery with its history and culture, highlighting its macro-layout and distinctive features. As to the macro-layout, 7 revenues and 23 lanes are arranged organically. The streets with historical and cultural values are well protected, ensuring its genuineness and setting up graded protecting measures. Besides, intangible cultural heritages like traditional lifestyle, snacks, folk literature and art and local produce are also well preserved and passed from generation to generation, keeping the vitality of the city.
An ancient Chinese poet, Yang Shen, was once on exile to Huili when he wrote, “Surrounded by natural scenery of Sichuan and Yunnan, I dream about coming home but I am far from it.” However the poet felt, Huili was, is and will always be a strategic pass in southwest China with a history of thousands of years.
Driving from Chengdu to Huili covers 598km and takes 8.5h.
Coach travelling from Shiyang station covers 739km and costs 188rmb.
Free of entrance fee.
Popular scenic spots: the ancient town, Xianren Lake, Longzhou Mountain, Baita Mountain, Baima Temple.
Local specialities: rice noodles with mutton, noodles with slices of chicken, bronze hotpot, glutinous rice cake, buttered tea, flour with beans, pork bones.