Shennongjia is a natural medicinal herb garden.
Random photo: Impressions of China
Located in Central China’s Hubei Province, Shennongjia (Shenong’s Ladder for the area to commemorate a legendary emperor, Shennong, believed to be the forefather of traditional Chinese herbal medicine and agriculture) covers an area of 3,250 square kilometers. Approximately 1.7 million years ago, because of a glacier of the Quaternary Period, at least one-third of the earth’s land mass was covered with snow and ice about 1,000 meters thick, resulting in a heavy loss of life. It fortunately escaped the destruction of the glacier and became a haven to plants and animals, which have long perished elsewhere.
Home to 2,400 species of plants and 500 kinds of animals, Shennongjia is a natural botanical garden and zoo. In Shennongjia, 29 plants generally referred to as “living fossils” are found, including the dove tree, ginkgo and fit. Endangered animal species, such as the snub-nosed monkey, leopard and South China tiger, live there.
Shennongjia is also a natural medicinal herb garden. At least 60 of its 2,013 medicinal herbs have proven effective in preventing and treating cancer and other diseases. But what makes Shennongjia most mysterious is the possible existence of the legendary “Wild Man,” known as “big foot” in the West. In the late Qing Dynasty, local chronicles recorded the existence of the “Wild Man” as a 2-meter-tall creature with ape-like facial features and a body covered with red hair. Standing on two legs, it has no tail and usually leaves large footprints on snow and in the fields. Although many people claimed to have Seen the “Wild Man,” nobody has ever caught one, despite efforts by scientists. Some scientists say the creature may be an unknown primate.
Shennongjia was open to visitors in 1993. In 1996, it received 120,000 tourists. The number of tourists reached 500,000 in 2002. In 1990, Shennongjia was listed in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s “Man and Biosphere” project.
An ideal place for tourists to start their journey to Shennongjia is Yichang, a city in Hubei. Yichang is the last stop for a downstream trip through the Three Gorges, the most spectacular scenery on China’s largest river, the Yangtze River. Known for magnificent, tranquil and mountainous landscapes, the Three Gorges section of the river is 201 kilometers long, of which 140 kilometers flow through Hubei Province. From Yichang it takes about five hours to reach Shennongjia by bus. The ideal time to visit Shennongjia is from May to October, staying there for one to four days. Shenlongjia now has several well-furnished hotels where programme-controlled telephones are available. In several towns in Shennongjia, there are amusement halls, cinemas, shopping malls and free markets where medicinal herbs, tea, root carvings and potted plants are sold. In Shennongjia, everything is easy for visitors to understand because there are no cultural relics. What permeates it is the naked beauty of nature—thick forests, streams, flowers, birds and fresh air. Autumn is the most wonderful season in Shennongjia. Adormed with plants and flowers of different colours, the mountains look like a large oil painting. On the bottom is the green grassland, above that is a large yellow arrow bamboo forest, and above the bamboo forest are forests embellished with unknown flowers.
Shennongjia is also known for its many inscrutable caves. In one grotto, which can accommodate at least 10,000 people, the temperature varies so much that visitors can experience the four different seasons. Glaciers fill another grotto even in summer. Some of the caves are connected with subterranean rivers and fish teem in the sulterranean rivers. Each year, soon after the first spring thunderstorm, shoals of fish rush out of them. For visitors, a trip to Shennongjia’s specimen hall can be a king of compensation. Covering an area of 120 square meters, the hall displays specimens of 400-plus animals, birds, fish, butterflies and insects, which exist in Shennongjia. They include the snub-nosed monkey, white bear, South China tiger, wild boar, black bear, jackal, white stork and golden pheasant. Also on display in the hall is a mosquito 40 millimeters long and 98 millimeters wide when its wings are spread. It is said to be the largest mosquito in the world.
For researchers and visitors alike, the primitive forests of Shennongjia spell too many mysteries closely linked with its geological changes.
Shennongjia has been listed by UNESCO as one of nature reserves for wildlife protection in a global programme, the “Human Beings and Biosphere.”
Pan Gu 盘古
Legend relates that Pan Gu盘古(creator of the universe in Chinese mythology), who was born in the Kunlun Mountains, took up a broad axe and wielded it with all his might to crack open the dark egg. The light clear part of the egg floated up and formed the heavens, the clod, turbid matter stayed below to form earth. Pan Gu stood in the middle with his head touching the sky and his feet planted on earth. The heavens and the earth began to grow little by little every day, and Pan Gu grew along with them. After thousands of years, the sky was higher, the earth thicker, and Pan Gu stood between them like a pillar so that they would never join again. When Pan Gu died, his breath became the wind and clouds; his voice the rolling thunder. Pan Gu’s one eye became the sun and the other the moon. His body and limbs turned into five big mountains and his blood formed the raring water. His veins became far-stretching roads and his muscles fertile land. The innumerable stars in the sky came from his hair and beard, His marrow turned into jade and pearls. His sweat flowed like the good rain and sweet dew that nurtured all things on earth. Until Pan Gu’s death, there were no human beings but only lords. The endless fights between lords enmeshed the whole world with evils. Monstrous floods came to wash all evils away and carried a big gourd that protected a brother Fuxi 伏羲 (a legendary ruler of great antiquity, the first of the Three August Ones 三皇, credited with the invention of hunting and fishing and the domestication of animals) and his sister Nüwa 女娲 (a creator goddess who patched with stone blocks the holes in the sky made by Gonggong 公公, the Spirit of Water, in a conflict with Zhuanxu 颛顼, the Spirit of Fire) inside. They got married and gave birth to all the lords who then created human beings.
More About The Hubei Province
- Shennongjia Introduction
Shennongjia is a natural medicinal herb garden.
- Wuhan Introduction
Wuhan is a generic name, referring to the three linked mid-Yangtze River citied of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang.
- Xianling Tomb in Hubei Province
The Xianling Tomb encompasses about 40 hectares.
- Yichang Introduction
There are more than 340 scenic spots at Yichang.