China Focus releases a new feature on Zhangjiajie: A Majestic "Alien Planet" of Peaks
China Focus releases a new feature on Zhangjiajie: A Majestic "Alien Planet" of Peaks. The feature is contributed by Meng Jiaxin who is a reporter of China Today.
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was the first designated national forest park in China. Covering an area of 130 square kilometers, it lies in Wulingyuan, the core scenic area of Zhangjiajie city in central China's Hunan Province, with a forest coverage of about 95 percent. It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1992. In February 2004, this forest park was also included in the list of UNESCO Global Geoparks.
Zhangjiajie features peculiar landforms formed by imposing peak forests of various patterns. Its luxuriant vegetation, steep slopes, deep valleys, and a warm and humid climate create an array of natural attractions. The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has six small scenic areas, among which Huangshizhai and Yuanjiajie are the most famous.
Huangshizhai is a huge square mountain terrace with an area of 16.5 hectares at an altitude of 1,080 meters. The place is an ideal observation deck overlooking Wulingyuan. Climbing to this natural observation deck, tourists can see countless jagged and upright rocky peaks and pillars. The main attractions in Huangshizhai are the Golden Tortoise Rock, the South Heaven's Gate, and the Star-Picking Platform.
Visitors can take a cable car straight to the top of the mountain, from which point they can see one of the most spectacular peaks in the scenic spot. In the midst of the boundless emerald green, the peak stretches up straight into the sky.
Apart from this magical masterpiece of nature, man-made architecture is also worth visiting. Huangshizhai has a famous architectural attraction called the "Six Wonder Pavilion," which refers to Zhangjiajie's peculiar mountains, water, clouds, rocks, plants, and rare animals. Standing on the pavilion, visitors can look out over the magnificent scenery of the peaks, and if tired of walking, they can enjoy a short rest here.
The Golden Tortoise Exploring the Sea, also known as the Golden Tortoise Rock, is a rock that resembles a turtle seen from a distance. When it is cloudy, the tortoise is hidden in a misty sea, hence the name Golden Tortoise.
South Heaven's Gate lies in the southeast of Huangshizhai. It is a natural gate formed by an inclined rock and cliff. It looks like a gate leading into the "heavenly court." There is a large stone on the right of the stone gate, about 20 meters high and shaped like a man. It is said that the stone is a deity guarding the heavenly gate.
A 100-meter ridge protrudes from the mountains in the east of Huangshizhai. At the highest point of the ridge is a lookout point composed of two sandstones stacked on top of each other. It was called the Star-Picking Platform and is an excellent place for stargazing at night. In addition to the above attractions, Huangshizhai presents an array of peculiar sandstone peaks and serves as an ideal place to watch the sunrise.
Yuanjiajie is located in the north of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, with an area of about 1,200 hectares and an average altitude of 1,074 meters. Legend has it that after the failure of Huang Chao's uprising in the late Tang Dynasty (618-907), a general surnamed Yuan who used to follow Huang Chao retreated to this place to elude enemy forces. General Yuan settled down and lived in seclusion in the mountains. He built a community here, and named it "Yuanjiajie," which means a village of Yuan family in Chinese. Today, it is a core scenic area in Wulingyuan, and its main attractions include the Bailong Elevator, the World's First Bridge, and the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.
The Bailong Elevator, or hundred dragons sky lift, is a 326-meter-tall sightseeing elevator built onto the side of a huge cliff. It is the world's tallest outdoor lift, and consists of three double-deck lifts, each of which can transport around 50 people per trip, shortening the journey of climbing a 326-meter mountain to less than two minutes. The elevator has won three Guinness Book of World Records awards for being the tallest full-exposure outdoor elevator, the world's tallest double-deck sightseeing elevator, and the world's fastest passenger traffic elevator with the biggest carrying capacity. At the top of the elevator, visitors can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Yuanjiajie's landscape.
The World's First Bridge is another iconic attraction of Yuanjiajie and is one of the "10 Wonders" of Zhangjiajie. It is a natural stone bridge stretching between two peaks that were originally one peak. The natural scene is a result of long-time weathering. The bridge is two meters wide, four meters thick, spanning a distance of more than 20 meters at a height of more than 300 meters, making it the world's highest natural stone bridge.
Another wonder in Yuanjiajie is the Souther Pillar of Heaven, now known as the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain. The production team of Avatar spent four days in Zhangjiajie seeking after inspirations for movie settings, and as a result, a large number of scenic images from here were used to present the fictional world of Pandora. The Southern Pillar of Heaven is a peculiar peak shooting into the sky, with an altitude of 1,074 meters and a vertical height of about 150 meters. With lush vegetation on the top, the giant vertical peak stands on the ground so straight that it seems to be cut sharp by a knife. When there are clouds and mist around, it appears like a realistic version of the floating mountains in the Pandora planet as seen in Avatar.
Visitors to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are always mesmerized by the magnificent peaks of different shapes and sizes. Marveling at nature's magical work, they will find themselves exploring an alien world in reality.
Contact: Bai Shi