In ancient times, Guangdong Province (廣東省), then known as Nanyue (南粵) was isolated from the rest of China by mountainous ranges across the northern part of the province thereby preventing a land route into the province, so, the only means of access was by sea.
Sometime during the Qin-Han Dynasties (秦漢朝) period a pass was found in the mountains between Jiangxi Province (江西省) and northern Guangdong Province. This ancient pass through the mountains was called Plum Pass/Meiguan (梅關) and the passage into Guangdong Province was named Meiguan Ancient Trail (梅關古道). The original length of this trail was 40km and was the shortest connecting distance between the Yangzi River (長江) and Pearl River (珠江) systems. Meiguan therefore became the gateway into Nanyue (南粵). Waves of immigrants from the north entered Guangdong through this only pass.
Below is a satellite map showing the relative locations of Nanxiong City, Zhujixiang and Meiguan
During the Tang Dynasty (唐朝) in the fourth year of the reign of Kaiyuan (開元), ie. 716 AD, prime minister Zhang Jiuling (張九齡) was sent by the Tang court to develop the pass and trail to promote greater commerce and cultural links between the north and south. The project lasted for two years, during which time the width of the trail was widen to 6m and paved with stone to allow for the passage of people, horses and vehicles. However, this trail is quite steep on both sides of the pass.
Distances between Meiguan and Guangzhou
The current trail and pass that still exists straddles the Meiling mountain (梅嶺山) at the border between Jiangxi and Guangdong Provinces and the total length is now only 8km long. At the top of the Nanling ridge is a fortress. On the Guangdong Province (south) side the gate inscription reads “Nanling’s first pass” (南嶺第一關) and on the Jiangxi Province (north) side another gate inscription reads “Nanyue’s majestic pass” (南粵雄關). The term Nanling (南嶺) and Nanyue are alternative names for present-day Guangdong Province.
Sights between entrance to Meiguan Trial and top of ridge
Down on the Jiangxi north side are plum orchards, called Mei (梅) from whence came the name of the pass, Plum Pass/Meiguan and the mountain range, Plum Ridge/Meiling. Down the south slopes on the Guangdong Province side are pine trees with a mountain stream on the west side. There are are also some bamboo groves.
Meiguan is located approximately 15km from Zhujixiang heritage village (珠璣巷) and about 24km north of Nanxiong city (南雄市). Zhujixiang heritage village is located about 9km north of Nanxiong city.