Henan, called “Yu” for short, is situated in the central-eastern part of China on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, with Zhengzhou as its provincial capital. As Henan is mainly located to the south of the Yellow River, hence the name Henan (South of the River).
Widely regarded as the cradle of Chinese civilization along with Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, Henan is referred to as a museum of China history and culture. During the 5,000 years of Chinese history, Henan served as political, economic and cultural center for 3,000 years. Since the 21st century B.C., more than 200 kings and emperors of over 20 kingdoms and dynasties set up their capitals in Henan. Of the eight ancient capital cities in China, Henan has four: Luoyang for nine dynasties, Kaifeng for seven dynasties, Anyang and Zhengzhou of the Shang Dynasty. The famous ancient painting, Along the River During the Qingming Festival (Qingming Shanghe Tu) by Zhang Zeduan, described vividly the prosperity of the flourishing capital of Song dynasty, the present-day Kaifeng. Henan is also recognized as the home of the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China, namely, compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing. Walking into Hennan is like entering a historical gallery.
The ups and downs of the dynasties in ancient China left extremely rich cultural relics to Henan. The world-famous Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang is a treasure house of stone carving, and one of the Four Notable Grottoes in China alongside with Mogao Caves in Dunhuang of Gansu Province, Yungang Grottoes in Datong of Shanxi Province and Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui of Gansu Province. The excavation of the Yin Ruins (Yin Xu) in Anyang brought the mysterious Yin Dynasty over 3,000 years ago to the light again. The Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”, including the 8 groups of sites located at the foot of the sacred Mount Songshan, are concentrations of China’s ancient civilization and show the 2,000-year architectural history in Central China. Each of the three world cultural heritages will surely make you gasp in admiration.
Henan boasts four Global Geoparks – Songshan Geopark in Dengfeng City, Yuntaishan Geopark in Jiaozuo City, Wangwushan-Daimeishan Geopark in Jiyuan City and Xin’an City and Funiushan Geopark in Nanyang City. Mount Songshan, also called Zhongyue, is one of the Five Great Mountains in China, along with the Mount Tai in Shandong Province, Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province, Mount Heng in Shanxi Province and Mount Heng in Hunan Province. Mount Songshan is best known for its natural beauty and Shaolin Temple. Yuntai Mountain is notable for its peculiar peaks and numerous rivers, lakes, pools and springs. The Yuntai Waterfall, with a fall of 314 meters (1,030 ft), is acclaimed as the highest waterfall in China.
The other popular attractions of Henan include: the White Horse Temple, the Xiaolangdi Dam, the Danjiang Reservoir and the Red Flag Canal.
Henan has the largest population in the country, with 98 million people. There are many great and famous people from Henan, such as Lao Tzu (Old Master) – a philosopher of ancient China who is best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching, Zhuang Zi (or Master Zhuang) – an influential Chinese philosopher, Zhang Heng – the world famous ancient scientist and astrologer and Zhu Zaiyu- the great musician who initiated the twelve equal temperament which later became the universal standard tones.
The Henan people have developed colorful customs and folk arts, such as the Shaolin Kung Fu and Taijiquan health-promoting exercises, Henan Opera (Yu Opera), acrobatics, Tricolor Glazed Pottery of the Tang Dynasty, Jun Porcelain and Woodcut New Year Pictures. Henan is the birthplace of Chinese Kung Fu (martial arts) and Kung Fu in China originated from the Shaolin Temple, which features for the coexistence of Chan School and martial arts. Bold and vigorous, Shaolin Kung Fu can help people build up their health.