Monday, 28 March 2011

10 Most Spectacular Places in Sichuan

1. Jiuzhaigou 九寨沟
Located deep in the heart of the Aba autonomous prefecture in Sichuan and 400 km from Chengdu, Jiuzhaigou is an impressive spot offering scenery to rival Guilin and an atmosphere and culture that is not dissimilar to much of Tibet. Jiuzhaigou is actually a huge nature and scenery reserve covering approximately 60,000 hectares situated in the Min Shan mountain range. Ancient Chinese legend has it that the goddess Semo accidentally smashed her mirror here and the pieces which fell down the mountain formed beautiful lakes, streams and waterfalls. Despite official attempts to attract thousands of tourists, Jiuzhaigou remains a surprisingly peaceful and traditional place. Yaks, shrines and prayer wheels are all common sights. The small villages here are inhabited by Tibetan and Qiang people who conduct their lives in a very traditional manner. The scenery here is pretty spectacular too. Lakes and waterfalls spill down the mountainside, mountains tower above small hamlets and villages and there is an abundance of beautiful wildlife too. Panda, monkey and bison exist here and birds and fish are everywhere, nestled in amongst the pretty bamboo forest.

2. Huanglong 黄龙
Huanglong locates at the foot of Xuebaoding Mountain which is the main apex of Minshan Mountain in Sichuan’s SongPan County. Huanglong, a 7.5 km-long valley, was listed as the World Natural Heritage by UNESCO in 1992. Huanglong Scenic Spot starts from Peiyuan Bridge and ends at Wangxiangtai under Mt. Yucui. The valley is covered with a thick yellowish layer of carbonate of lime, which forms around 3,400 ponds of different shapes and sizes. Huanglong is called as the fairy pond on the earth. The 2300 ponds come into 8 groups which are five waterfalls, four stalactite caves and three ancient temples. Due to the unique five-colored calcium carbonate ponds, Huanglong wins the honor of “the Fairyland on the Earth” and of “the Marvelous Spectacle in the World”.

3. Leshan Giant Buddha 乐山大佛
Sitting facing the west, the Giant Buddha is located on the western slope of Xiluan Peak of Lingyun Hill in Leshan. The Giant Buddha is a stone sculpture of the sitting Maitreya. The total height of the Buddha is 71 m, which is as high as the top of Lingyun Hill. It is lofty and massive with a symmetrical scale and with a 10 m wide head, 5.6 m long nose, 7 m long ears, 5.6 m long eyebrows, 3.3 m long eyes, 3.3 m long mouth, 3 m long neck, 28 m wide shoulders and 8.3 m long fingers, and the height from the Giant Buddha’s insteps to its knees is 28 m. On its head, there are a total of 1021 hair buns. Moreover, the drainage system has been skillfully concealed from the back of the Buddha’s neck to its toes. The Buddha rests his feet at the confluence of three rivers, reclines his back on nine hills, overlooks Emei Mountain and dominates the old city, Jiazhou. With a dignified and solemn appearance and grand verve, the Buddha is the largest sitting stone sculpture of Maitreya in the world.

4. Mountain Emei 峨眉山
Mount Emei is located  south of Chengdu, and covers a scenic area of  one hundred & fifty four square kilometres. The highest peak, Ten Thousand Buddha Peak at an altitude of 3,099 m, is a popular tourist attraction in southwest China. Emei Mountain was listed in the Directory of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1996. The lofty, graceful and ancient natural landscape is famous for its long-term Buddhist culture, abundant resources of plants & animals, in addition to unique geology and physiognomy. It has been awarded many titles, such as Celestial Mountain & Buddhist Kingdom; Plant Kingdom, Animal Paradise, Geological Museum, and The top graceful mountain in the world.

5. Wolong National Nature Reserve 卧龙国家级自然保护区
Wolong National Nature Reserve is located in the boundaries of Wenchuan County, Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, by the left bank of upper reach of Minjiang River and the east slope of Gonglai Mountain, and 134 km away from the capital city Chengdu. The Reserve is 52 km long from east to west, and 62 km wide from south to north, covering an area of about 200,000 hectares. Established in 1963, the Reserve joined the International Man and Biosphere Reserve Network of UNESCO in 1980, and its main targets for protection are forest ecosystem and precious animals like giant pandas.

6. Dujiangyan Irrigation System 都江堰简介
The Dujiangyan Irrigation Project was completed around 250 BC during the Warring States Period by a local official Li Bing. Prior to its construction, the Chengdu Plain was prone to flooding in the winter and drought in the summer by the Minjiang River, a branch of the Yangtze River. The great project, presently, honored as the "Treasure of Sichuan", is the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world, and a wonder in the development of Chinese science. The project consists of three important parts, namely Yuzui, Feishanyan and Baopingkou scientifically designed to automatically control the water flow of the rivers from the mountains to the plains throughout the year.

7. Qingcheng Mountain 青城山
Qingcheng Mountain, originally called Old Man Mountain, is a famous mountain of Taoism. Located to the southwest of Dujiangyan City, Sichuan Province, it covers an area of some 100 km², the highest peak being 1600 m above sea level. Surrounded by countless peaks and densely covered by tall ancient trees, Qingcheng Mountain is known as the most secluded mountain in China. The main cultural relics include Jianfu Temple, Tianshi Cave and Shangqing Temple. It is one of the cradles of Chinese Taoism. Xhasng Daoling, the founder of Taoism, had preached his doctrines here and left behind numerous stories and relics. Taoists regard the mountain as the "Fifth Dwelling of Immortals".

8. Yading Nature Reserve 亚丁自然保护区
Yading Nature Reserve is located in Daocheng, a county subordinated to the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on the southwest border of Sichuan Province. This national nature reserve is noted for its mysterious lamasteries, forests, pastures, snow clad peaks, clear lakes and primitive Tibetan villages. It is so beautiful that the tourists nickname it  "The Last Shangri-La", "The Wonderland of Shangri-La" and "The Last Pure Land on the Blue Planet". Yading is a holy land for the local Tibetan, it means "the land towards the sun" in the Tibetan language. The reserve is at an elevation of 2,900 - 6,032 m and covers an area of 1,344 km². Yading was seldom known by the outside world until it was discovered by Joseph Rock in 1928. Today, Yading is still a less-visited destination in China. This is because of the less tourism promotion.

9. Southern Sichuan Bamboo Sea 蜀南竹海
Characterized by bamboo scenery, the Southern Sichuan Bamboo Sea is a 'China's National Scenic Spot', one of 'the 40 Best Tourist Attractions', a 'Chinese Biosphere Reserve', 'the First AAAA Class Tourist Attraction'. It locates in the southwest Liantian Mountains, which border the Changning County and Jiangan County of Yibin City, and covers an area of 120 km² with an elevation from 600 to 1,000 m. In its central region, more than 5,000 hectares of big tall and upright bamboo (Pronounced in Chinese as Nanzhu, spelled Phyllostachys Mazelexh. de Lehaie in Latin) shelters 28 ridges and peaks high and low, 500 hills big and small. Bamboo grows in the fields at different levels and in the mountains and hills that stretches long and far. The place seems like a misty vast green sea. Hence comes the name of 'Bamboo Sea'.

10. Hailuogou 海螺沟
Hailuogou is a national forest Park with modern glacier and a beautiful valley. It is officially named Hailuogou National Glacier Forest Park and commonly called Hailuogou Valley among the Western tourists. Located on the eastern mountainside of Mt. Gongga (7,756 m above sea level) within Moxi Town of Luding County, Sichuan Province, the park is famous for its low altitude glacier, glacier cascades, mountain hot springs and virgin forests. This fascinating valley is the biggest glacier park in China with the lowest glacier in the world. Its glacier belongs to the valley glacier, stretching 14.4 km long and covering an area of 23.2 km². With a lowest altitude of 2,850 m, the glacier is easily accessible to visitors. The glaciers there are formed in various vivid shapes, such as arches, caves, stairs, gates, lakes and hills, look very beautiful.

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