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Scenic area in Yuanping a peak of natural beauty

Source: Time: 25 03,2022

In China, imposing natural wonders are often described as "artworks crafted by heavenly masters".

Tianya Mountain Scenic Area, in the Shanxi city of Yuanping, is one such site that fits this description, thanks to its rich variety of landforms.

About 5 kilometers to the east of Yuanping's city center, the scenic area covers about 1,000 hectares.

Tianya is part of the Wutai Mountains, which are among the highest mountains in Shanxi province.

The southeastern part of Tianya Mountain consists of a group of peaks that resemble a set of teeth if viewed from afar. When viewed up close, these rising peaks resemble huge swords pointing to the sky.

Researchers believe such a landform is the result of geological evolution over billions of years. They surmise that the region began to rise some 2.6 billion years ago during the Archaeozoic Era and reached today's altitude during the Sinia Period between 570 and 800 million years ago, when high but gently sloped peaks formed.

The researchers believe that the high-rising peaks were formed during the Fourth Glacial Age about 2 million years ago as a result of glacial movement.

Today these peaks are a major destination for mountaineers from Shanxi and the rest of the country because of their difficulty to climb.

The northwestern part of Tianya consists of a totally different landform, featuring a number of peaks resembling lotus flower petals. Called Lianhuashan, or Lotus Flower Mountain, by locals, it is a site for amateur mountaineers due to its relatively low degree of difficulty to climb. The mountain-climbing paths are scattered between the gaps of the "lotus petals" and along the slopes.

One location in Lianhuashan that visitors cannot afford to miss is a huge piece of rock called Shigu, or Stone Drum. It is so named because a cave in the rock sounds like a drum when the wind blows through it.

This natural wonderland boasts a wealth of culture and has a rich and storied history.

Nearby the Stone Drum is an old building complex consisting of 20-plus rooms built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. This is a temple devoted to an ancient hermit called Jie Zitui. A politician during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), Jie retreated to neighboring Mianshan in search of a solitary life. After rejecting the king's offer to serve as a higher-ranking official, he died in a fire set by the king, who believed the blaze could force him out to continue his political career.

Tianya Mountain has been a popular destination for many Chinese literati, who have left a great number of poems and inscriptions on the rocks and cliffs.

Xing Aitian contributed to this story.

By Yuan Shenggao