Monday, March 19, 2012

Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area- World Heritage Site

A spectacular area stretching over more than 26,000 ha in China's Hunan Province, the site is dominated by more than 3,000 narrow sandstone pillars and peaks, many over 200 m high. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, some 40 caves, and two large natural bridges. In addition to the striking beauty of the landscape, the region is also noted for the fact that it is home to a number of endangered plant and animal species.

The site lies in the Wulingyuan District of the city of Dayong and covers the entire drainage basin of the Suoxi Brook, which winds for 69 km through the site. The most notable feature, dominating about two-thirds of the site, are more than 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks. Between the peaks are numerous ravines and gorges, many containing attractive streams, pools and waterfalls. The site also contains a number of karst features, notably some 40 caves which are concentrated on the banks of the Suoxiyu River and the south-east side of Tianzi Mountain. Huanglong or Yellow Dragon Cave is said to be one of the 10 largest caves in China. Spectacular calcite deposits are a major feature of many of these caves.

There are two spectacular natural bridges in the area: Xianrenqias (Bridge of the Immortals) and Tianqiashengkong (Bridge Across the Sky). It lies 357 m above the valley floor and may be the highest natural bridge in the world. The site is popularly known to have '800 brooks and streams' but in reality, there are far less, perhaps 60. Many drain into the Suoxi River which runs through the center of the site. One of the side branches of this river has been dammed at one point, creating Baojeng Lake. This lake has been created for water supply, flood control and to enhance the habitat for the Chinese giant salamander as well as for recreation.