Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Heavenly Gate At Tianmenshan (天门山) -- Part II

After the enjoyable visit to the Tianmenshan peak, we headed down, halfway to the Heaven's Gate.

And we got ready to board the gondola for a midway to head to the Heavenly Gate!
Atrocious English signages were everywhere, but the Chinese do seem to make a great effort to learn...

As we headed down, we were joined by a Chinese family - with teenage daughters...
They kept looking at us and talking amongst themselves...
Finally they asked Sam "Yindu?" enquiring whether we were Indians...
Indians in Zhangjiajie were obviously rare!

Another view of the Heaven Linking Avenue!

We got off on the cable car station midway and boarded a bus to head to the Heavenly Gate!
We took the Heaven-Linking Avenue, which is also known as the Big Gate Road. This road has been called the “most dangerous” roads in China. 
Starting from 200 meters below sea level the serpentine road reaches 1300 meters above sea level making a total of 99 hair-pin turns along the way. In Chinese culture, 9 is considered a lucky number because it is believed that heaven has 9 places. A road with 99 turns symbolizes heaven, and hence the term Heaven-Linking Avenue or Avenue Towards Heaven.
The road took eight years to build with work starting in 1998, and ending in 2006.
It was a 20 minute ride for us to the base of the Heavenly Gate!

999 steps connect the base to the Heavenly Gate
We took it as a challenge to climb the very steep steps... It took us about 30 minutes... 
The "gate" formation itself is very interesting...
It is believed that during China's "Three Kingdoms" period, the entire opening was formed in one cataclysmic event when the back of a huge cave collapsed in 263 AD. 
After the event, the name of the mountain was changed from Songliang Shan to Tianmen Shan....
Tianmen Shan now attracts stunt fliers. This is due to its location close to the Zhangjiajie airport as well as its large opening. Acrobatic flying teams from China and Russia have flown through the opening in 1999 and 2006. 

That's steep!
While climbing up is strenuous, one has to be extra careful while going down...

We forgot the exertion of the climb, when we reached the Heavenly Gate!
Indeed, that was a heavenly feeling!
No wonder Li Na became a nun!

At the Heavenly Gate!

When got back to the base, we were famished...
We found a small eatery, where friendly ladies were making local Tujia delights!
Pancakes, curries and what not!

We had this wholesome steaming hot meal of rice, noodles, carrots, spinach, egg and shredded meat alongwith a spicy pepper sauce!
It was fulfilling!

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