Stone Forest Kunming
The Stone Forest In Kunming Yunnan Province.
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Located in Lu’nan Yi nationality autonomous county (area 1,777 square kilometers, population 220,000), in southeast Yunnan Province, the Stone Forest is described by people as having “the most fantastic scenery in China.” Formed 270 to 300 million years ago, the Stone Forest consists of 352 square kilometers (352,000 hectares or 869,792 acres) of typical karst that has been developed of which are the most frequently visited for their concentration of Stone formations. It is 120 kilometers from Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province. From a distance, it indeed resembles a dense forest, but as the tourist draws closer s/he will find the “trees” are all slender Stone pinnacles. Geologists say that the Stone Forest is a special type of limestone formation known as karst (a region made up of porous limestone containing deep fissures and sinkholes and characterized by underground caves and streams). Some 200 million years ago this area was submerged under a thick layer of limestone at the bottom of the sea. Later, the movement of the earth’s crust caused the sea bottom to thrust upward and became land. Owing to solvent action, long deep cracks developed in the limestone, and rainwater running through the cracks gradually eroded the Stone into the present shapes.
First to greet the tourist is a huge natural Stone wall carved with eight red Chinese characters which translate : “A myriad pinnacles stand erect, receding one after another into the distance.” The inscription is after the handwriting of Zhu De, the late Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, who wrote the lines when he visited the Stone Forest. A little further on is another Stone wall on which are carved “Shi Lin.” Stone Forest beckons the tourist on. Strange pinnacles resembling bamboo shoots, giant pillars, pagodas, swords, lions, sleeping tigers, camels, or wild ox will surround the tourist on every side once s/he enters the “forest.” The formations range in height from five to thirty meters. Some stand in solitary loftiness, some in clusters. Between the pinnacles deep chasms wind in and out like corridors. The stones have holes like windows in them, and there also labyrinth in underground caverns… Literati have sung their praises over the ages in poems and prose, while graphic descriptions are to be found carved on the various rock faces. Follow the 1,200-meter path into the heart of the “forest” and the tourist will come suddenly upon a mammoth rock suspended between two towering cliffs overhead as though about to fall. This “rock hanging by a hair” may well discourage s/he from proceeding. Just proceed the zigzag trail and s/he will arrive at “Sword Peak Pool.” A sharp blade-like Stone projects straight upwards out of a pool. The crystal-outlined by a twisting walkway, resembles a natural jewel in its setting. Fish glide among the reflections of surrounding stones. Beside the pool stands a Stone horse.
A meandering stairway leads from the pool to Lotus Peak, through caves and over the tips of several pinnacles to the highest point of all in the Stone Forest. This is Peak Viewing Pavilion. From this natural vantage point s/he gets a bird’s-eye view of the entire “forest.” The pinnacles below are of fanciful shapes taxing the imagination.
Many of the stones are named “Mother and Child Viewing the Scenery.” “Phoenix Preening Its Feathers,” “Elephant on a Platform,” and “Woman Longing for Her Husband.” Many have delightful legends connected with them, of which the epic poem Ashma is famous. On e version of the epic goes that the heroine Asham of the Sani (the Sani people are a branch of the Yi nationality living in Yunnan Province) people was a beautiful and talented girl born into a poor peasant family. She began helping her father herd sheep at the age of 12. One day in the mountains she saved a boy named Ahei who had lost his way while picking wild fruit. Ahei, a 12-year-old orphan also from a poor family, had to do a grown man’s labour for the landlord. Ashma’s parents took pity on Ahei and took him in as their foster child. Ahei and Ashma grew up as brother and sister while love grew between them, to be declared when they reached maturity. Asham’s father had magic arrows, which he gave to Ahei. The couple was very happy. But one day when they were going to the market, Azhi, the landlord’s son who was captivated by her beauty, saw Ashma. Azhi dispatched a man to fetch Ashma for him. When Ahei learned that Ashma had been abducted, he mounted his horse and set off in pursuit with his magic arrows. Ahei killed three tigers set on him by the landlord and rescued Ashma. The lovers went into the Stone forest and lived hppily there ever after, giving birth to fine sons and daughters who are said to be the ancestors of the Sani people. Before 1949, the Stone Forest was practically inaccessible. Today, it draws millions of visitors from home and abroad each year, pathways and bridges have been built, as well as restaurants, shops and other service facilities. Stone tables and benches for rest are placed at intervals along the paths. Safety measures have been taken where necessary.
A 78 kilometer-long expressway from Kunming to Stone Forest was built and opened to traffic on November 16, 2003.
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The Stone Forest In Kunming Yunnan Province.
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