Discover Dongting Mountain's golden halls and the enchanting cave where bell chimes and qin melodies create an atmosphere of ancient mystique, as celebrated during King Huai of Chu's reign.
Dongting Mountain floats on Tai Lake, with hundreds of golden halls and chambers at its base where the goddesses reside. Throughout the year, one can hear the music of bells, chimes, qin, and pipes echoing on the mountaintop of Dongting. During the reign of King Huai of Chu, talented individuals were selected to recite poetry and create literary works by the water, which is why people say that listening to the music on the waters of Xiang and Dongting brings longevity. Even renowned compositions like “Xianchi” and “Jiushao” cannot compare to the music on the Xiang and Dongting waters. Every second month of each season, King Huai of Chu would often visit Dongting Mountain, enjoying the scenery and hosting feasts. He would compose poems and music based on the solar terms of the second month of each season. In early spring, during the second month, corresponding to the Yin mode of the Jiazong musical scale, he ordered the creation of poems and music about the clear winds and flowing waters, followed by a feast in the southern part of the mountain. In mid-summer, the fifth month, corresponding to the Yang mode of the Ruibin musical scale, he composed poems and music about the verdant guests, and in late summer, the eighth month, he instructed people to create music about the white dew and autumn frost. Later, King Huai of Chu gradually favored the scheming and power-hungry individuals who coveted high positions. Many virtuous and talented ministers were forced to flee the court. Qu Yuan, due to his loyal counsel, was cast aside and could only take refuge between the Yuan and Xiang rivers. He dressed in a straw cloak, survived on wild vegetables, and lived among birds and beasts, avoiding involvement in worldly affairs. He gathered the fruits of cypress trees and mixed them with osmanthus flowers to create a medicinal ointment to nourish his spirit. Ultimately, Qu Yuan was driven to exile by King Huai of Chu and chose to end his life by throwing himself into the clear and tranquil river. The people of Chu admired and revered Qu Yuan, referring to him as the Water Immortal. His spirit roamed above the Milky Way, occasionally descending to the banks of the Xiang River. A temple was built in his honor by the people of Chu, and it continued to exist until the end of the Han Dynasty.
Within Dongting Mountain, there is a mystical cave. When one enters the cave, it always feels as if there is candlelight ahead. The cave exudes a peculiar and rich fragrance, and the spring water and rocks are clearly visible. Once, a person who gathered medicinal herbs and stones entered the mystical cave and walked about ten miles inside, where he encountered an entirely different scene. The weather was clear, bathed in rosy light, with fragrant flowers and lush willow trees casting thick shade. There were crimson mansions and jade towers, palaces, temples, and a realm completely distinct from the earthly world. The herb gatherer saw many young and beautiful celestial maidens, dressed in robes adorned with patterns of seven-colored clouds. Their skin was as smooth as ice and their appearance was strikingly different from earthly women. They invited the herb gatherer, treated him to fine wine, and led him into palaces adorned with jade. There, they played music on flutes, pipes, qins, and se, among other instruments, for the herb gatherer’s enjoyment. After the banquet, the celestial maidens bid farewell to the herb gatherer and sent him back to his hometown, even gifting him with celestial wine. Although the herb gatherer was inwardly enamored and reluctant to leave, he longed for his children, so he retraced his steps back to the cave. Just as when he arrived, he felt as though there was a guiding light ahead, and he did not experience hunger or thirst. He finally reached his hometown. To his surprise, he found that the people in the village were no longer his original neighbors, and he could only locate his ninth-generation descendant. When he inquired about what had happened, his descendant replied, “My distant ancestor went to Dongting Mountain to gather herbs and never returned. It has been three hundred years now.” The herb gatherer explained his own experience to the villagers, but afterward, no one knew where he had gone.
Xiao Qilu said: According to the “Shang Shu · Yu Gong,” the records of mountains, rivers, lakes, and seas, as well as discussions about famous mountains and great lakes in official historical records, some are not accompanied by written texts or charts and are only mentioned in miscellaneous works and unofficial histories. Some seem to exist but cannot be found anywhere, while others appear to have similar content but are actually different, leaving readers perplexed and full of doubts. As for places like Mount Yuanqiao and Mount Daiyu, as recorded in “Liezi · Tang Wen,” they are locations where a multitude of marvelous and extraordinary events have been gathered. However, they are not mentioned in the ancient “Fen Dian.” Mount Penglai, Mount Yingzhou, and Mount Fangzhang all have different names as well. The mysteries of Mount Kunwu are also documented in “The Records of Zhang Qian’s Travels Beyond the Pass.” When examining the Central Plains and the territories of various ethnic minorities, the differences in climate affect the activities of both humans and animals, resulting in various forms of mystical energy. Clouds, flowing water, flowers, plants, and trees all display their own unique and splendid features. However, when investigating ancient classics, it becomes apparent that these phenomena belong to the same category. Just because they are distant from the present time doesn’t make them precious or significant. Such absurd and groundless records are quite laughable. We can only wait for those knowledgeable individuals to come and verify these miraculous occurrences.