The tower-like peaks of Tianzi Mountain abruptly spring up from the tree-covered terrain below to form a unique panorama that is frequently shrouded in mist. One of the planet’s most unusual structures may be found in the 21 square miles of mountainous terrain that make up the Wulinyuan Scenic Area in the Hunan Province of China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It’s only fitting that James Cameron looked to Tianzi Mountain for ideas when creating the alien terrain of “Pandora” in Avatar.
How Tianzi Mountain Formed
Tianzi Mountain is a result of sedimentary rock erosion over millions of years. Its 300 million-year-old sandstone peaks have been gradually sculpted by wind and water. What’s left are the thin, worn structures (some reaching heights of about 4,100 feet), which more closely resemble skyscrapers than a cityscape.
Additionally, erosion has produced distinct, stratified layers. As a result of exposure to the elements through time, have changed in color and shape. Younger and less degraded mountains are also scattered across the remainder of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, adding to the region’s distinctive range of mountain shapes. The Tianzi Mountain formations have a jagged pattern with ledges protruding unevenly at various locations around the rock. It is because erosion occurs at varying rates at the same time.
The Tianzi Mountain Landscape
The soil that has accumulated over the years on the sharp ledges of the towers has allowed a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees to grow up along the sides of the formations. In turn, the vegetation also draws wildlife, especially the various species of birds that live in the trees.
Although the Tianzi scenery contains more than simply this forest, trees fill the area around the mountain. The mountain’s dissolvable limestone base has been chiseled away by acid rain and erosion, thus its lowest levels also contain caverns. Underground lakes and rivers can be found inside these caverns. The caves can be unstable and prone to sinkholes and cave-ins, though, because the limestone is so fragile.
The Legend Of Tianzi’s Origins
According to legend, Xiang Dakun, a member of the ethnic Tujia people, gave Tianzi Mountain its name. Xiang Dakun led a peasant insurrection in the 1300s among the Tuija, an ethnic minority. For 40 days he and his troops fought the forces of the Emperor before they were finally routed and he was killed.
Xiang Dakun allegedly struggled until he was pushed back to the cliff’s edge of the mountain. Where he then reportedly plunged to his death. The flowers that cover the ledges today are said to have been placed on the cliff by his beloved after he passed away. According to a different myth, Xiang Dakun’s writing implements, which hardened into stone after his passing, are what make up the Tianzi peaks. Visitors would be able to see the Yubi Feng, also referred to as “Emperor’s Writing Brush Peak,” on the mountain. The tradition claims that three separate rock formations at this location on the mountain resemble writing brushes that formerly belonged to Xiang Dakun. These formations are of varying heights.
Last but not least, Tianzi Mountain got its name from mythology. Tianzi, which translates to “Son of Heaven,” is a title typically used to refer to the emperor. However, Xiang Dakun decided to reclaim the name by referring to himself as “Tianzi” out of rebellion. Despite having this name, the mountain is sometimes occasionally referred to as Emperor Mountain.
Highlights Of Tianzi Mountain
#1. Shentang Gulf
Shentang Gulf is a bottomless valley with bluffs on all sides and a dark green pool at the bottom that has not yet been touched by man. All year long, mist covers it. According to legend, the Xiang Tianzi perished here. There is only a perilous nine-step natural ladder that gives room for one foot to stand that leads to this place; there is no other, safe route. Every time you catch a peek at the bottom, you will be appalled. It’s particularly astonishing to hear voices, horses neighing, and gongs and drums banging coming from the canyon.
#2. Dianjiang Terrace
The West Sea Stone Forest may be seen best from Dianjiang Terrace. The beautiful misty view of Xihai Peak Forest can be enjoyed here by pausing for a moment at a modest lookout platform. Rugged rocks protrude from a foggy canyon like a ruler tallying his troops. Similar to much of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, the West Sea is made up of oddly eroded mountain peak remnants. Some of these take the form of tower-like stratified sandstone obelisks and others of which are larger stratified sandstone blocks. Obelisk “waves” or “rows,” with each row rising higher than the one before it, do indeed resemble a “Gate to Heaven.”
The terrace and the points of the ascending rows of obelisks are the only things that can be seen through the banks of genuine clouds that can settle here. It gives the view the appearance of a “staircase to heaven.”
#3. Ten Miles Gallery
Ten Miles Gallery is a valley in the Tianzi Mountain Natural Reserve that is about 10 miles long. You can choose to take the tiny green train to explore the lovely sights along the road. It was beautiful scenery in this little valley. Major picturesque areas of this region are those peaks with different shapes. For example, The God of Longevity Welcoming Guest, An Old Man Gathering Herbs, Conch Peak, etc., resemble the things for which they are named.
#4. Imperial Writing Brush Peaks
Imperial Writing Brush Peaks captivates both painters and photographers alike. It can be seen in a lot of photos taken both domestically and overseas. According to legend, King Xiang left his writing implement here. Ten undulating peaks that rise into the clear sky are visible when looking northeast from the vantage point. The peak on the right resembles an upside-down brush. Additionally, the peaks to the left appear to be a finished painting.
#5. Tianzi Pavilion
The best vantage point from which to view Tianzi Mountain is Tianzi Pavilion. A constructed structure with elements of traditional Chinese design. Tianzi Pavilion, which has a height of 30 meters. It is situated on a platform about 200 meters to the east of Helong Park. Three large Chinese letters reading Tian Zi Ge may be seen as you approach the pavilion. The pavilion is built similarly to other ancient Chinese pavilions, with six stories and four double-hipped roofs.
#6. Fields In The Air
It’s difficult to imagine how a scene from a fairy tale could occur in real life. 1000 meters above sea level is where Fields in the Air is located. A 3-hectare section of a terraced field could be seen beneath a chasm with jutting vertical rocks. The area is bordered by trees and white clouds on three sides, resembling a beautiful landscape picture.
Tianzi Mountain is undoubtedly one of the planet Earth’s most strikingly distinctive landscapes. Regardless of what we call it or where it came from.
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