Tianmen Mountain National Park
    2009-11-10 14:46:48     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Zhao Lixia
Located only eight kilometers from the city of Zhangjiajie in northwestern Hunan and standing at 1,500 meters above sea level, Tianmen Mountain is often referred to as the "Soul of Zhangjiajie".
Express
Now it's time for our regular feature 'On the Road'. In last week's program, we visited Zhangjiajie National Park in central China. Today our guide Xiao Hua will take us to the second national forest park in Zhangjiajie, the Tianmen Mountain National Park.

The Tianmen Mountain National Park is a newly developed attraction in central China's Hunan Province.

The mountain is located only eight kilometers from the city of Zhangjiajie in northwestern Hunan. Standing at 1,500 meters above sea level, Tianmen Mountain is often referred to as the "Soul of Zhangjiajie".

Tianmen Mountain boasts a primitive forest, numerous rare tree species, medicinal herbs and an abundance of fauna.

Chen Ziwen has been living at the foot of the mountain his entire life. He says an emperor came to worship the gods here almost 1,500 years ago.

"The emperor of the North Zhou Dynasty wanted to worship heaven and earth. He chose Tianmen Mountain as one of the sites for his ceremonies."

One of the main attractions of Tianmen Mountain is the Tianmen Cave. It is a natural water-eroded cave with the highest elevation in the world. It is actually a big hole in the mountain but people call it a cave and it has become a major attraction. In 1999, in an acrobatic show, three airplanes flew through it. The live telecast drew an estimated audience of 800 million people worldwide.

Many rock climbers enjoy climbing the cave walls. To reach the platform towards the cave you have to travel along a spiral road known as Tongtian Avenue. The view from the long and winding road looks just like a dragon ascending from the mountains and is a wondrous sight. It's impressive just how the ancient Chinese were able to build structures like this.

About 25 minutes along Tongtian Avenue you'll reach the base platform and a long flight of stairs leading up towards a cave. This is known as the 'Heaven Reaching Ladder'.

At the western side of the summit, the forest trees remain low. There you can find the newly built Tianmen Temple. Before the 10,000 square meter temple was built, there was a smaller temple in which Buddhist Pilgrims had worshiped since the Ming Dynasty 400 years ago.

Breathtaking mountains and legends also attract adventurers. Li Guangzhang is a native of the Tianmen Mountain area. He's been into the Ghost Valley Cave, another of the mountain's attractions, on several occasions.

"I live at the foot of the Tianmen Mountain. I have been attracted by the mountain as well as the legends and stories about it. We reached the bottom of the Ghost Valley Cave with a 120 meters long rope. We were a little scared the first few times we went into the cave, but now we are not afraid at all."

Another wonder that local people always talk about is that the Tianmen cave cliff which can magically keep itself dry even in heavy rains. People say that if the cliff becomes wet, a big disaster will surely follow. Their harvest would be destroyed by serious flood or drought.

Another topic that the locals find interesting to tell visitors is about the moving cave. The Tianmen Cave could be seen from the city several decades ago. But now it is impossible to see the cave from the city. Geologists explain that the cave has gradually moved from its original position.

Luo Zhaoyong is a photographer.

"I have been a photographer here for over 30 years. We were able to see the cave at the north gate of the old city when I was a child. But now the cave has turned westward. And it's continuing to move."

The Tianmen Academy is another attraction. It has delivered advanced education since ancient times. Many high ranking officials and scholars were brought up here. Here's local resident Chen Ziwen again.

"Emperor Timur of the Yuan Dynasty in the mid 14th century thought highly of the educational achievements in the Tianmen Mountain area. He wrote an inscription about Tianmen Academy to honour the local college."

Tianmen Academy is now a senior high school.

If you are tired of climbing up and down the mountain, the cable car is a good choice. The cableway from the city towards Tianmen Mountain is considered to be the longest cableway in the world, covering a distance of 7,455 meters and with a height of 1,279 meters.

The ride from the city to the mountain takes around 15 to 20 minutes and provides passengers with awesome views.
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