Tianzi Mountains The Wonderland That Inspired The ‘Avatar World’
Deemed as China’s one of the most scintillating tourist destinations, the mesmerizing beauty of the sky-tapering pinnacles of Tianzi mountains, which surges from the hellish valley like lethal natural arrows, conjure the souls of the visitors! An exceptionally beautiful ‘Tianzi Mountain’ region makes out a ‘golden triangle’ of tourist attractions along with Zhangjiajile Forest Park & Suoxiyu valley & is located in the northern alpine terrain of Wulingyuan Scenic Area.
An astounding landscape of ‘Tianzi mountains’ is famous for the cluster of natural pillars made up of eroded sedimentary rocks. The rock pillars are, more often than not, get draped with the thick envelope of mist, which makes the entire landscape look like a huge smoke gun firing at all its might, just like the ‘Pandora-world’ shown in the movie ‘Avatar’! The Tianzi Mountains’, which dominates the landscape of the stone pillars, rises 1,262 meters above the sea level & provides more than 100 observation decks to explore the nature’s exquisite work of art.
The ‘Tianzi Mountains’ is known as the ‘Monarch of the Peak Forest’ & offers the stunning panoramic view of the entire ‘Wulingyun Scenic Area’. The mountain region & the surrounding valley put on different attires in different seasons; the winter attire, in particular, being the best of all, pulls the maximum crowd. People come here to witness four awe-inspiring wonders of the ‘Tianzi mountains’- the ‘sea of clouds’ (dense mists), ‘jungle of stone towers’ (towering rock pillars), stupendous view of the rising sun & captivating snow-caped peaks!
How To Get There?:
A special shuttle bus service from the entrance of ‘Wulingyuan Scenic Area’ gets you to the ‘Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve’. To reach atop the mountain, a cable car service is provided from the lower station, Zhaigongwan. Unfortunately, due to the absence of the trail, hiking here is impossible to reach atop the mountains.
What Makes Tianzi Mountain So Special?
A picturesque view of over 2000 sandstone peaks, some in the form of giant blocks, while others stand freely like obelisks or towers, makes the landscape of this amazing reserve park simply unique. The landscape is the result of a long process of stratification. The sandstone bedrock that occupies the majority portion of the Nature Reserve was exposed to the water erosion. The sandstone bedrock, being semi-porous, was greatly hampered due to the annual frost that settled into the crevices of the bedrock, causing them to expand & produce more cracks along their exposed edges. The erosion process was boosted by the rain & the mist, until the new frost filled the cracks, in turn widening them further. The process continued for several millenniums & the unique time & the weather-worn sandstone peaks landscape was produced that now enthralls the visitors with its divine beauty!
Another thing that adds to its divine charm is the caps of shrubs, which clad the sandstone pillars! The stratification process caused the erosion of the exposed faces of the pillars, due to which, the ledges were carved into the vertical surfaces, which in turn, aided in accumulation of soil. The accumulated soil provided the perfect platform for the growth of shrubs, grass & even trees, which made these green-top sandstone peaks look like the giant paint brushes! The vegetation also provided shelter to the wide variety of avian life.
At 1262 meters of height, ‘Kunlun Peak’ dwarfs the surrounding peaks, providing an otherworldly view of this dazzling landscape that, more often than not, hides behind the thick veil of mists. The legend of an ancient king associated with the ‘Tianzi Mountain’ makes this spectacular yet somewhat eerie landscape even more fascinating for the visitors!
The Legend of King Xiang Dakun:
The ‘Tianzi Mountains’ gets its name from the legendary leader of the peasant revolt. The leader of ‘Tujia’ ethnic group- Xiang Dakun, led a successful revolt against the ‘Ming dynasty’ & established a stronghold over the ‘Tianzi Mountain’ terrain. The rebellion leader ‘Xiang’ declared himself as ‘Tianzi’- ‘Son of Heaven’, the name from which the mountain draws its today’s title.
In the year 1385, the rebellions were attacked by the legions of ten thousand soldiers of the ‘Ming dynasty’ led by their first emperor- Zhu Yuanzhang. ‘Xiang Dakun’ & his army of rebellions couldn’t stand before the massive royal army & was eventually heavily defeated. ‘Xiang Dakun’ himself fought vigorously in the battle & martyred after falling into the ‘Sheng Tang Wan Gulf’.
People set up the villages along the ‘Tianzi Mountains’ to pay homage to the great warrior. The mountain was also renamed as ‘Tianzi Mountains’ in order to commemorate the brave soul of ‘King Xiang Dakun’.
Top Attractions In Tianzi Mountains Nature Park:
Although the entire Nature Reserve is full of nature’s exquisite wonders, some of the most famous tourist spots of the Nature Reserve that one should never miss are as follows-
Sheng Tang Wan Gulf:
Hellish gorges of ‘Sheng Tang Wan’, which so far, have remained away from the human interference, add up to the mystical appearance of this alpine region. Moreover, thick mist that resides here almost all the year makes it look Smokey & otherworldly. As per the legend, the ‘King Xiang’ perished after falling into the gorge & it is believed that the sounds of drum beats, human chattering & horse’s neigh still heard coming from the gorges.
Fields in the Air:
An exceptionally beautiful landscape that rises 1000 meters above the sea level & covers 3 hectares of land, makes up ‘Fields in the Air’. The Field often conceals behind the cloak of the fog & its surrounding dense vegetation portraits a gorgeous natural art.
Bridge of Immortals:
The natural bridge made up of red sandstones flanked by massive azalea & pine trees on either ends conjures the minds of the onlookers. The bridge spans 26 meters & is located 60-70 high from the ground connecting two cliffs. The bridge is also called as ‘the first bridge under the heaven’. The presence of natural stone steps makes this natural wonder even more fascinating!
Gathering of Heavenly Soldiers:
Hundreds of densely populated stone pillars, which stand across the ‘Bridge of Immortals’, resemble to a legion of ferocious soldiers of god ready to charge right from the word ‘GO’. Such an amazing congregation of imposing peaks is rarely found in any other part of the world.
Imperial Brush Peaks:
Also known as ‘Yu Bi’ peaks, the ‘Imperial Brush Peaks’ are the most celebrated among all other attractions. The sky-tapering peaks, which don green shrubs right on their tips, look like giant inverted ‘stone-brushes’. These natural stone-brushes have inspired several painters & photographers across all over the world for past several decades.
Fairy Offering Flowers:
Located opposite of the ‘Imperial Brush Peaks’, a stone-bluff of a beautiful ‘Fairy’ hides herself behind the thick blanket of flowing clouds. As per the legend, the stone-bluff is a symbol of a peasant girl who were in love with the ‘King Xiang Dakun’. After sensing an inevitable defeat in the battle even after fighting till the very end, the ‘King Xiang Dakun’ jumped off the cliff & ended his life. The girl in love with him searched for the ‘Xiang’ all across the cliffs, but wasn’t able to find any trace of her love. She then paid her respect for the King by strewing flowers from the cliff in dismay & eventually turned into a stone statue.
The ‘Helong Park’ is dedicated to Helong, the founder of the ‘Chinese People’s Liberation Army’. The park houses a colossal bronze statue of the great leader, which was the largest bronze statue in the nation during the last century.
The ‘Tianzi Mountain Reserve Park’ was the inspiration behind the floating Halleujah Mountains & bizarre, misty landscape depicted in 2009 blockbuster Hollywood movie ‘Avatar’!