Guilin Tourist Attractions
Guilin lies in the middle of some fabulously beautiful countryside in the northeast of the autonomous region of Guangxi.Several crystal-clear rivers meander through the town, which is encircled by a ring of mountains with bizarre rock-formations and caves.
The landscape was formed over a period of some 200 million years, when the sea still reached this far inland. Layers of muschelkalk (chalk formed from fossilized shells) were deposited; then the earth's crust was formed, the chalk stratified and was shaped by wind and water to produce vast numbers of caves.All that makes Guilin a unique natural experience. For hundreds of years poets and artists have been fascinated by the sheer splendor of the unique scenery, around which many fairy tales and legends have been woven. In autumn the scent of cinnamon trees fills the air.The Qin Emperor Shi Huangdi (reigned 221-210 BC) laid the Lingqu Canal which links the Lijiang and Xiangjiang rivers. Although today it is used mainly for irrigation purposes, for many centuries the canal was the main traffic route between south and central China. Guilin has now become the capital of the administrative region of the same name. It obtains its name (''Forest of Cinnamon Trees'') from the subtropical cinnamons which have been a feature of the town since ancient times. In the mid-17th C the Ming government took up residence here when fleeing from the Manchurians. When the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) succeeded the Mings Guilin was made the capital of Guangxi and attained this status again between 1936 and 1949, after which it was finally replaced by Nanning. During the Sino-Japanese War many people from the north fled to Guilin. Its economic situation has improved considerably during recent years.
Seven Star Park is the largest park in Guilin. It contains seven hills, some of which have caves.
Mount of Unique Beauty
A steep path of 306 steps leads up to the top of the Mount of Unique Beauty in the town center. It is 152m/500ft high, and from the top there is a magnificent view over the town and the surrounding area. The peak is dominated by an arched edifice known as The Southern Gateway to Heaven (Nantian Men). There are a number of caves on the mountain slopes, the inner and outer walls of which are covered in inscriptions from the Tang (618-907) and Qing (1644-1911) eras. To the south of the mountain, on the land belonging to the teacher training college, stands the Wangcheng, once the residence of the King of Jingjiang. All that remains are parts of the walls together with some balustrades and staircases.
Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill can be found on the west bank of the Lijiang river, in the south of the town. Its shape is reminiscent of an elephant dipping its trunk in the river. Legend says that an elephant which belonged to the Emperor of Heaven came down to earth to help the people in their work. This angered the Emperor of Heaven, who stabbed the elephant as it was drinking at the river's edge and turned it to stone. The cave between the ''body'' and the ''trunk'' is of a particularly interesting shape and has inspired poets and writers old and new to engrave verses on its walls. The poems of Lo You, Fan Chengda and other poets of the Song dynasty (960-1279) are of inestimable literary and archaeological value. On the top of the hill stands the Puxian Ta Pagoda in the shape of the handle of the dagger with which the elephant was killed.
Cave of the Returned Pearls
The Cave of the Returned Pearls (Huanzhu Dong) lies at the foot of the Mountain of the Gentle Waves. According to legend, this was the lair of a dragon which owned a glowing string of pearls. A fisherman found them and took them, but he was plagued by pangs of conscience and finally returned the jewels to their owner. In the cave will be found the touchstone on which swordsmen tested their weapons. On Qianfo Yan Rock can be seen over 200 Buddhist sculptures and inscriptions from Tang and Song era (7th-13th C).
Whirlpool Hill (Fuboshan) lies 300m/900ft to the east of the Peak of Unique Beauty. The iron bell weighing 2.5 tonnes and the giant Pot of a Thousand Men are from the Dingyue Si temple of Diecaishan and date from the Qing period (1644-1911).
South Creek Hill
On the southern edge of the town towers South Creek Hill, with its two symmetrical peaks. It is rich in caves and artistically inscribed rock-faces. The writings number 200 and date back to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) eras. On the north edge of the hill lies a park of the same name.
10km/6mi south of the town, at the foot of Mount Dushan, will be found the cave known as Zengpi Yan, where traces of a Stone Age settlement were found in 1965. The finds - stone and bone tools, pottery, traces of fires and graves - can be seen in an exhibition hall.