Huanglongsi, a nature preserve, is the home of the giant panda and the site of Yellow Dragon Temple, a Daoist Monastery. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.

Huanglongsi is a nature reserve on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in northwestern Sichuan Province. It is the home of Yellow Dragon Temple, a Daoist monastery, as well as numerous hot springs and dramatic glaciated peaks. It is also one of the last holdouts of the critically endangered giant panda.

Huanglongsi (Yellow Dragon Temple) is a natural reserve area in northwestern Sichuan Province on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, 150 kilometers from the bustling provincial capital of Chengdu (estimated 2007 population 11.2 million). Huanglongsi, along with the adjacent ravine to the north, Jiuzhaigou, was recently designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site for its natural scenery and endangered wildlife (Huanglongsi in 2000, Jiuzhaigou in 1997). The limestone geology of the area, combined with hot spring algae growth, has produced a great range of colored waters in both areas: turquoise, green, yellow, and milky white.

Much of the area was heavily logged in the 1980s; today the area, which has been banned to logging since 1998, is one of the last holdouts of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). The reserve also features the smaller (and also endangered) red panda (Ailurus fulgens, also called the lesser panda), golden snub-nosed monkeys (Pygathrix roxellanae roxellanae), water deer (hydropotes inermis), and 55 other species of mammals, as well as 155 species of birds and five species each of reptiles and amphibians. There are also vast areas of rhododendron, wild roses, clematis, and wild ginger.

The Yellow Dragon Temple, for which the reserve is named, is a Daoist monastery. Because it is located so high (3,430 meters) in the Minshan range, the temple was previously known as the “Snow Mountain Temple” (Yueshansi). (Yueshan, the “Snow Mountain” itself, features China’s easternmost glacier.) The temple is situated at a pass into a forested valley surrounded by glaciated peaks (up to 5,000 meters) and dotted with more than three thousand natural hot pools of various-colored water, from which the Tibetan name of the temple, Gser mthso lha khang (Yellow Pool Temple), is derived. The existing structure, dating from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), originally was the rear of a complex of three halls.

Further Reading

Gyurme, D. (1996). Tibet handbook: With Bhutan. Chicago: Passport Books.

Introduction to All of Giant Panda Sites & Reserves: Huanglong Nature Reserve. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2009 from

Kanamaru, A. (2000). Mapping the Tibetan world. Reno, NV: Kotan Publishing.

Kirk, M. (Ed.). (2009). China by numbers 2009. Hong Kong: China Economic Review Publishing.

Sichuan sheng Aba Zangzu Qiangzu zizhizhou difang zhi bianzuan weiyuanhui. (Ed.). (1994). Aba zhou zhi [Aba Prefecture gazetteer] (Vol. 3). Chengdu, China: Minzu chubanshe.

Stevens, K. M., & Wehrfritz, G. E. (1988). Southwest China off the beaten track. Chicago: Passport Books.

WWF (formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund). (2009). The land of the panda. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from

Source: Tuttle, Gray. (2009). Huanglongsi. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 1096–1097. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Huanglongsi (Huánglóngsì ???)|Huánglóngsì ??? (Huanglongsi)

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