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Xinzheng: The Home of Dates

Materials are provided by "Travel China weekly newspaper"
By Wang Xinsheng

For one hour, the train travels through a forest of date trees in Xinzheng, south of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, In autumn, the dates hanging on the tree branches look like red jewels.

Xinzheng is located in the center of Henan. To the north is Zhengzhou, to the south is Xuchang, to the east is Kaifeng and to the west is Luoyang.

Statures of Emperor Yan and the Yellow Emperor.

Statures of Emperor Yan
and the Yellow Emperor.

Xinzheng, the reputed birthplace of the Yellow Emperor, is hallowed ground to the Chinese nation. The origins of Chinese culture are located here, such as the remains of Yangshao Culture, Longshan Culture, and Shang & Zhou Culture, Bai Juyi (772-846), a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), was born in Xinzheng and spent his childhood there. Xinzheng is called the "home of dates." A local jingle says, "Xinzheng dates are sweet and fragrant, and the home of dates is Mengzhuang."

Mengzhuang Town is located 25 kilometers northeast of Xinzheng and just south of Zhengzhou. The soil is sandy loam, and the area has plenty of underground water, well suits the growth of red dates.

Autumn is the best season to visit Mengzhuang, for that is when the dates are ripe.

According to archaeologists, Xinzheng dates have a history of more than 2,000 years. Now Mengzhuang Town has 4,333 hectares of date groves, with 1.2 million date trees and an annual output of six million kg of dates in more than 30 varieties. Xinzheng dates have thick meat, thin skins and small kernels, The dates are mainly of two varieties: Jixin (chicken heart) dates and gray dates. The local dates are said to be good for invigorating the functions of the spleen, improving the appetite, and promoting the circulation of the blood.

Visitors can taste dates at any time here, and they can also view the ancient "King of Date Trees", which is more than 600 years old, having been planted during the reign of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Hongwu (1368-1399). When the tree was in full vigor, it was eight meters tall and its crown was 14 meters in diameter. In the late 19th century it was struck by lightning. Now its trunk is 3.1 meters in diameter, and its crown is five meters in diameter. It is the oldest date tree in China, and has the thickest tree trunk.

Xinzheng is the howm town of the Yellow Emperor.

Xinzheng is the howm town
of the Yellow Emperor.

Tourists can mount the Yuhuang Date-Viewing Terrace, to have a panoramic view of the date forest, or they can walk in the forest to breathe the fresh air, pick dates or have a picnic. After visiting the date garden, we went to the birthplace of the Yellow Emperor. It is located at Xuanyuanqiu, Beiguan, in downtown Xinzheng. This was where the Yellow Emperor was born and built his capital. The present town was built during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D.220), and has been renovated many times since. Many overseas Chinese come here to seek their roots.

We then toured the Xinzheng Museum, 300 meters west of the Yellow Emperor's birth place. The museum houses 30,000 precious cultural relics, and there is a story behind each one. How to get there: Tourists can take Train No. 179 from Beijing to Zhengzhou at 22:38 and arrive at Zhengzhou at 6:38 the next morning. Hard sleeper tickets cost 170 yuan. Then go by bus from Zhengzhou south Bus Station to Xinzheng.

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