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Helan Mountain - a green continent in the sky and nature

    Hu Bingzheng, a poet of the Qing Dynasty, composed the piece Ode to the Helan Mountain which gives a incisive and vivid description of the topographical turmoil of the cloud-enshrouded Helan Mountain that is evocative of the celestial Penglai Island. This line by Yue Fei, the celebrated anti-Jin general of Song dynasty. Driving our chariots of war, we shall break through the pass of Helan Mountain, spreads the fame of Helan Mountain all over the country. The fact that the world helan in Mongolian means thoroughbred indicates the mountain’s noble status in the hearts of the northern nomad.
     The Helan Mountain is 200 kilometers long north and south and 20-60 meters wide east and west, and 3,556 meters at highest point. Thanks to a cool and moist weather, the mountain is cocooned in a mantle of luxuriant forests and grass and looks like an aerial oasis whose green color is in striking contrast to the golden sand of the desert around it. The dense woods of the mountain are a paradise of rare animals and precious birds, including red deer, goats, river deer, leopards, martens and Crossoptilon auritum, which is the mascot of Ningxia. For good reasons, the Helan Mountain is a major nature reserve under state protection.
    As the population folk rhyme goes, what a nice Ningxia is , the south China north of Great Wall. In the east the Yellow River serpentines like a dragon, and in the west the Helan Mountain is a treasure of nature. The mountain is also a natural barrier. Its massive body serves to protect the people and the land in the south from sandstorm and cold currents form up north, and makes it possible for the Yellow River to become a boon for Yinchuan Plain. Because of its strategic location, generals from central China like to turn the mountain into a defense work to keep invaders at bay. That is why old battlefields dotted the foot of the mountain. There are as many battle formation at the foot of the Helan Mountain as the could in the sky; day and night urgent military documents were dispatched in a constant stream, these lines by the Tang poet Wang Wei capture exactly what happened in the old days. The value of the Helan Mountain also manifests itself in its wealth of sites of cultural and military interest and scenic resorts the serpentine ancient Great Wall, Buddhist statues stone inscriptions, large amounts of cliff paintings, to name a few. The Lesser Gunzhongkou on the eastern side of the mountain is the site of the summer palace of Li Yuanhao, the founding emperor of the Western Xia, and a cluster of old temples that are through with pilgrims. 
    
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