Time flies, we were left with the last 2 attractions to visit in Changsha before we would return to home sweet home that evening. Both the attractions are located in the same area, west of Changsha (湘西) where Hunan University is.
Although one of the attractions is a “mountain” by name, our tour guide joked with us that after seeing so many magnificent mountains and natural landscape in Zhangjiajie, Mount Yuelu (岳麓山) is really nothing in comparison, as its main and highest point – Yuelu peak, is only 300m above sea level. Mount Yuelu is known for its many scenic spots, including Qingfeng Gorge (清风峡), Aiwan Pavilion (爱晚亭), Lushan Temple (麓山寺), Yunlu Palace (云麓宫), the White Crane Spring (白鹤泉) and the Flying Stone (飞来石).
As the weather was as hot as the day before, at about 37-38 degrees celsius, upon hearing that big coaches were not allowed in the Mount Yuelu compounds and we had to walk about 45 minutes from the entrance of Hunan university to the mountain, all of us decided to pay RMB 30 (about S$6.10) for a 2-way trip on the eco-bus. The ride only took about 10 minutes and it was great to escape from all the possible perspiration if we had walked all the way up. :P
Indeed, the scenery here pales in comparison to the spectacular landscape in Zhangjiajie. In fact only my friend and I decided to continue our way up the mountain while the rest decided to rest and wait for us near the foot of the mountain due to the horrible weather. Both of us also gave up hiking after 15 minutes as it was very warm in the forest and there weren’t any interesting sights further up, even for the unique-looking tree of 130 years old above.
At the foot of the mountain is a statue of Mao Zedong (毛泽东)，a Chinese Communist revolutionary and the founding father of China. There was a student representative standing by the statue, helping visitors to take photos with Chairman Mao for RMB 10. Visitors are not permitted to take photos together with Chairman Mao on their own, but if it is just a photo of Chairman Mao then it is all right. So weird. >.<
Just a few steps away from the statue is the Aiwan Pavilion (爱晚亭). It is one of the 4 famous pavilions in China, formerly known as 红叶亭 (Red Leaves Pavilion) when it was built in 1792 during the Qing Emperor – Qianlong period (清乾隆朝代). In his younger days, Mao Zedong was involved in revolutionary activities at this pavilion. The plaque in the Aiwan Pavilion was later inscribed by him when they reconstructed the pavilion in 1952. The pavilion is also a popular spot for filming period dramas.
As the quick tour of Mount Yuelu and Aiwan Pavilion ended, it also meant that our 8 days of holiday in Hunan province were to end. I think the highlight of the whole tour was really those few days in Zhangjiajie, a memorable experience, while Changsha is essentially a city, and literally very hot one, with mostly man-made attractions to showcase its history and culture, but I am not so keen on.
Hope you have gained more information / ideas from reading about my experience, helping you to decide the must-visit attractions should you visit Hunan in future. :)