The Red Hill in Urumqi

Why is The Red Hill So Special?

With an elevation of 910, the mountain is believed to be a giant dragon fly from the Heavenly Lake by the Bogda Peak, while the Yamalik Mountain on the west bank of Urumqi River is believed to be the avatar of a demon. It’s also believed that if these two mountains met, Urumqi would turn into a place of vast sea. To press down the mountains and lock the water, two pagodas were set up on the top of two mountains respectively in 53rd year of the Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty (1788). From then on, “the pagoda relieved against the setting sun” become a famous scenic spot of Urumqi. Today the Red Hill is the biggest urban park in Xinjiang.

Where is The Red Hill

Situated on the east bank of Urumqi River, the Red Hill gets its name from the ochre sandstone of its body.

History of The Red Hill

After 1779, Urumqi local officials built “Yuhuang Temple” one after another on the top of Hongshan, and stipulated to hold Hongshan Temple Fair on April 15 of the lunar calendar every year. The temple fair was bustling and bustling.

In 1785 and 1786, Urumqi was flooded for two consecutive years, causing heavy losses to the residents near Hongshan. Therefore, rumors were rife that Hongshan and the opposite Yamarix Mountain were moving closer to each other. Once the Urumqi River rolling north between the two mountains was blocked, Urumqi would become a vast ocean. Therefore, in 1788, Shang An, Urumqi’s highest military and political officer, built a 6-sided, 9-grade, octagonal-topped, blue brick solid tower with a height of about 10.5 meters at the top of Hongshan and Yamarix Mountains respectively, called “Zhenlong Pagoda”.

On September 26, 1949, Xinjiang was peacefully liberated. In order to restore Hongshan scenic spots, the vast majority of the people paid great efforts to plant trees on the top of Hongshan Mountain, which is 910 meters above sea level. The purplish red sandstone formed about 250 million years ago was covered with green new clothes. Starting from 1985, a hill park centered on the Zhenlong Pagoda with a history of more than 200 years was born. This is the present Hongshan Park. There are also Hongshan Pagoda inside, including scenic mountain asphalt roads, climbing steps, aerial cable cars, summerhouses, overlook buildings, sacred palaces, artificial waterfalls, Lin Zexu sculptures and temples. If you climb on it, Urumqi has a panoramic view, and is the best place to watch the scenery of this border town.

Legend of The Red Hill

Legend has it that in ancient times a red dragon fled from Heavenly Lake and the Heavenly Empress caught him and sliced him in two with her sword. Late r on, the western part of the dragon turned into Yamalike Hill and the eastern turned into Red Hill. The sword turned into the Urumqi River. Oddly enough, topographic pictures tell us the two hills were once one and were separated into two parts due to stratum rupture.

Eventually, ancient legend affected real life. In 1785 and 1786, floods hit Urumqi causing much destruction. Rumors arose that Red Hill and Yamalike Hill were growing closer and closer together. Once they met, the Urumqi River between them would be blocked and the city would become flooded as the water rose. Therefore, in 1788 Shang An, the highest military officer, ordered the Zhen Long (in Chinese, to subdue the dragon) Pagodas built on both hills. These two pagodas were made of gray brick, 10.5- meter (34.4-foot)-high with six sides, nine stories, and an octagonal roof.

Main Attraction of The Red Hill

The front of the temple is the main hall, which is more than 10 meters high. It is an ancient brick and wood structure with a style similar to that of an ancient Chinese palace. The front of the temple is of a single-eaved Xie Shan style with green glazed tiles embedded in the roof. There are 36 red round wooden pillars in the corridor around the hall. The scale is magnificent and spectacular. At the back of the hall is a double-eaved “octagonal building” with eight or four eaves, which is a full moon building. The decoration of the four walls and doors and windows in the temple is exquisitely carved, and brick and wood carvings are all made of various patterns such as flowers, melons and fruits, which not only strictly follow the Islamic doctrine of not using icons and animal figures, but also maintain the architectural style of traditional wood structures in ancient China. The hall is paved with blankets for Muslim worship.

In front of the hall is a spacious compound, with halls on all sides except the west. The north hall is a lecture hall, the south hall is a bathroom, and the east hall is a place for imams to study.

Today, a beautiful park has been developed surrounding the Red Hill. Modern entertainment facilities and ethnic performances bring a fresh and lively atmosphere to the park. On the peak of the hill, you will have the whole city of Urumqi before your eyes!

Recommended Xinjiang Tour Packages

Best Time to Travel The Red Hill

The best time to come to Urumqi is every autumn, that is, August and September.

At this time, the weather has begun to become cool and melons and fruits have begun to mature. It is a very suitable time to travel. At this time, most scenic spots begin to hang attractive golden colors. Let’s tour in the golden ocean. The natural scenery in various parts of Urumqi is very beautiful. In our spare time, we bring our family to Urumqi to play, eat delicious melons and fruits, and enjoy the different local conditions and customs here. I believe this is a very beautiful moment and a very happy memory.

How to Get There

  • By bus
    Take bus 7, 14, 17, 52, 68, 157, 301, 311, 537, 907, 910, 917, BRT 1, BRT 2, BRT 4,  or BRT71 to Hongshan (Red Hill).

Useful Travel Tips

Entrance Fee Free for the Red Hill;
CNY 5 for entering the Yuantiao Tower inside.
Opening Hours 10:00 – 21:00

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Doreen/张洋