CHONGQING: THE YANGTZE, RED HISTORY AND FANTASTIC KARST SCENERY

CHONGQING CITY

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Chongqing (on the Yangtze River, 1,600 kilometers west of Shanghai and 250 kilometers east-southeast of Chengdu) is dirty, industrial city of almost 16 million people. The starting point of many boat trips on the Yangtze River, it is located on the confluence of Jialing and Yangtze Rivers on the edge of the Three Gorges dam reservoir. It was the capital of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government during World War II in part it was too far inland for Japanese bombers to reach. Even so it was heavily bombed.

Chongqing (known in the old days as Chungking) is listed as the third largest city in China after Shanghai and Beijing and ahead of Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu (the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th largest cities in China). Chongqing is home to between 15.7 million to 18.4 million people depending on how the city is defined. Some say the urbanized area has a a population of only 7 or 8 million. The municipality is home to about 31 million people Chongqing is one of the nine national central cities in the People's Republic of China (PRC). Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), and the only such municipality in inland China. The core districts cover5,472.8 square kilometers (2,113.1 square miles).

The central urban area of Chongqing, or Chongqing proper, is unique for a city in that it has been built on mountains and is surrounded on three sides by the Yangtze and Jialing river, earning it the names "mountain city" and "city on rivers". At night it is quite spectacular when millions of lights in the city’s sloped are reflected in the rivers. Chonqing is famous for hot pot and is nicknamed the "furnace of the Yangtze".for its industrial activity and fiery food. it has an interesting old town with spectacular flights of stairs that wind up and down the mountains wedged between the two rivers. There are tall buildings, including one that looks the Chrysler building and a US$200 million opera house,

Chongqing has modernized very quickly and has experienced a construction boom that has gone on for decades. It has built an extensive subway system and expanded it deepwater port .for increased boat traffic from the Three Gorges Dam project. It also boasts a 1,693-foot tower and has a Carrefour and Ikea. Bicycles are rarely seen because the city is hilly and rises up so steeply from the Yangtze.

Known as a city in the mountains, Chongqing is flanked by waters on three sides, and by the mountains on four sides. It has a humid climate, with many cloudy days. In spring and autumn, the city is often enveloped by heavy fog, hence the name “Capital of Fog”. Chongqing has been called the Chicago of China because it is kind of gateway to the wilderness of the West and is major transportation hub where rail lines, roads and river outlets all merge.

Tourist Office: Chongqing Tourist Bureau, 175 Renmin Rd, 630015, Chongqing, Sichuan, China, tel. (0)-811-6386-3364, fax: (0)- 811-6385-1448 Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Maps of Chongqing: chinamaps.org ; Subway Map: Joho Maps Joho Maps Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Chongqing is accessible by air, bus train and Yangtze river boat. Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide

Chongqing Municipality

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Chongqing Peoples Hotel
Chongqing Municipality is about the size of Austria. It covers 82,403 square kilometers (31,816 square miles), is home to about 31 million people and has a population density of 370 people per square kilometer. About 65 percent of the population lives in urban areas. Chongqing city is the capital and largest city, with about 16 million people. See Above. Maps of Chongqing: chinamaps.org

Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing are direct-administered municipalities — municipalities under the direct administration of the central government in Beijing and have the same rank as provinces. A municipality is a "city" (“shì”) with "provincial" (shěngjí) power under a unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city and a province of its own right. A municipality is often not a "city" in the usual sense of the word term but instead is an administrative unit with a main central urban area at its core and much larger surrounding area containing rural areas, smaller cities (districts and subdistricts), towns and villages.

In 1997, Chongqing was removed from Sichuan province became one of the four municipalities directly under the central Chinese government, answering directly to Beijing. The other three direct-controlled municipalities are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. Chongqing is the only such municipality in inland China. The municipality of Chongqing embraces rugged mountains, villages and inaccessible rural counties broken up by gorges as well as city streets and concrete buildings. About 45 percent of the municipality's residents live in the city. In 2007, government leaders issued a directive stating that 70 percent of the municipality must be urbanized by 2020 in an effort to modernize it. To meet this goal a half million people were required to move from the countryside to the urban areas each year.

Chongqing municipality is comprised of 19 districts, 15 counties, and 4 autonomous counties. The official abbreviation of the city and the municipality is Yú, a name derived from the old name of a part of the Jialing River that runs through Chongqing and feeds into the Yangtze River. Most of Chongqing’s construction has occurred in the city and its suburbs but some has also taken place in the municipality. Air pollution produced by the region’s factories is a problem. It gets trapped by the mountains and canyons around the city. The rain here is more acidic than any other part of China. Many of the people who lost their homes to the Three Gorges Da, reservoir where resettled in Chongqing. According to report in the Guardian in 2009, there are 568 deaths, 813 births and 1,370 new arrivals in Chongqing everyday.

Chongqing has its own significant culture but has historically and traditionally been linked with Sichuan and was part of that province until 1997. The language-dialect spoken by the vast majority of people in Chongqing, with the exception of Xiushan, is Sichuanese — a form of Southwestern Mandarin that includes the primary Chengdu-Chongqing dialect and Minjiang dialect spoken in Jiangjin and Qijiang. There are few speakers of Xiang and Hakka in the municipality, due to the great immigration wave to the Sichuan region during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In addition, in parts of southeastern Chongqing, the Miao and Tujia languages are also used by some Miao and Tujia people.

Geography and Climate of Chongqing

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Ghost King
Chongqing city was built on a rock promontory at the confluence of the Yangtze and Chia-ling Rivers. Chongqing Municipality is located in the southwest of the interior of China, in the southwest of the Sichuan Basin. The municipality borders Hubei province to the east; Hunan province to the southeast; Guizhou province to the south; Sichuan province to the west and northwest; and Shaanxi province to the north in its northeast corner.

Chongqing is situated at the transitional area between the Tibetan Plateau and the plain of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River The municipality has a maximum width of 470 kilometers (290 miles) from east to west, and a maximum length of 450 kilometers (280 miles) from north to south.

Chongqing covers a large area crisscrossed by rivers and mountains, with Daba Mountains in the north, the Wu Mountains in the east, the Wuling Mountains in the southeast, and the Dalou Mountains in the south. The entire municipality slopes downward from north and south towards the Yangtze River valley, with sharp rises and falls. There are many mountain and hills, with large sloping areas at different heights and angles. Karst features, including stone forests, Karst towers and peaks, limestone caves and valleys can be found in many places. The Yangtze River runs through the whole area from west to east, covering 665 kilometers (413 miles) and piercing through the Wu Mountains. The Three Gorges of the Yangtze — Qutang, Wuxia and Xiling gorges — begins in Chongqing. The Jialing River joins the Yangtze in Chongqing after passing through the “Lesser Three Gorges."

Chongqing has a sub-tropical climate influenced by moist monsoons. It often rains at night in late spring and early summer, and thus the city is famous for its "night rain in the Ba Mountains". Chongqing is a misty, mountain city. Natives call it "fog city" because there are about 200 foggy days a year. During the winter it receives some snow but generally not so much. The average January temperature is 7.8 °C (46.0 °F). The average August temperature is 28.5 °C (83.3 °F). The lowest temperature ever recorded is −3.0 °C (27 °F); the highest is 44.0 °C (111 °F). Annual precipitation: 1,104 millimeters (43.5 inches).

History

of Chongqing

Tradition links Chongqing with the State of Ba. The Ba people are said to have established Chongqing during the Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 B.C.) after moving from their first capital Yicheng in Hubei under pressure from kingdom of Chu. This new capital was first named Jiangzhou. In 316 B.C., the state of Ba was conquered by the State of Qin.

Jiangzhou was renamed during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (A.D. 220-589) to Chu Prefecture, then in 581 during the Sui Dynasty to Yu Prefecture, and later still, in 1102, during Northern Song, to Gong Prefecture.. The name Yu survives to this day as an abbreviation for Chongqing. The city centre where the old town stood is called Yuzhong (Central Yu). It received its current name in 1189, after Prince Zhao Dun of the Southern Song Dynasty described his crowning as king and then Emperor Guangzong as a "double celebration" (pinyin: shuāngchóng x qìng, or chongqing in short). In his honour, Yu Prefecture was therefore renamed Chongqing subprefecture marking the occasion of his enthronement.

In 1362, during the Yuan Dynasty, Ming Yuzhen, a peasant rebellion leader, established the Daxia Kingdom at Chongqing for a short time. In 1621 during the Ming Dynasty, another short-lived kingdom of Daliang was established by She Chongming with Chongqing as its capital. In 1644, after the fall of the Ming Dynasty to rebel army, Chongqing, together with the rest of Sichuan, was captured by Zhang Xianzhong, who was said to have massacred a large number of people in Sichuan and depopulated the province. The Manchus later conquered the province. During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), immigration to Chongqing and Sichuan took place with the support of Qing emperor.

In 1890, Chongqing was opened as a treaty port.. The following year, the city became the first inland commerce port open to foreigners. The French, German, US and Japanese consulates were opened in Chongqing in 1896-1904. The city became trade center for much of western China. Textile mills, chemical plants, steel and cement factories, and several other smaller industries were opened up or expanded after the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 and the Chinese Communist Party began running the country.

Chongqing During World War II

Chongqing was the capital of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government of China and the headquarters of the Chinese National Army (Kuomintang) during World War II and the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937 -1945. In 1937, shortly before the capture of Nanking — the earlier Kuomintang capital the national administrative offices of the nationalist government were moved to Chongqing (then known as Chungking) remained there until 1945. The city was also an American air base during the war.

Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists did little to help the Allied effort against the Japanese. Chiang was more interested in exterminating the Communists and saving his forces for battles against the Communists than ousting the Japanese. Chongqing was China's capital during World War II in part because it was too far inland for Japanese bombers to reach. Even so it was heavily bombed. Over 5,000 died in just two days of air raids on May 3 and 4, 1939.

In 1942, Chiang was named the Allied commander in China. The American General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell, commander of the Allied forces in the China-Burma-India theater, didn't like Chiang at all. He referred to Chiang as a "Peanut" and called him "an unbalanced man with little education...arbitrary and stubborn." In regard to the corrupt and inefficient Kuomintang army he wrote: "The crux of it, they just don't want to get ready to fight...the Chinese government was a structure based on fear and favor." He also compared the fascist ideals of the Nationalist party with those of the Nazi party in Germany.

Chiang Kai-shek's military effort against Japan, as weak it was, won him support from the United States, Britain and even the Soviet Union. Western money and aid didn't seem to make the Kuomintang stronger it just seemed t make them more corrupt and out of touch with Chinese peasantry. A Kuomintang alliance with wealthy landlords didn't win them any support among the peasantry either.

Bo Xilai and Chongqing

From 2007 to 2012 the powerful Communist Party boss Bo Xiliaai Bo was Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee and member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Bo's posting in 2007 to Chongqing, the New York Times reported, deep in China's interior, was seen by some as an effort to sideline him. Instead, it became the base for his campaign to join the Politburo's Standing Committee, the nine-member body at the peak of the Communist hierarchy whose membership will turn over this fall.

Bo was put in charge of Chongqing with the mandate of radically transforming the city and the region into an economic powerhouse ranking with the major cities on the coast, Bo had great success making over the coastal city of Dalian when he was mayor there in the 1990s. Bo was sent to Chongqing by the Communist Party elite in part because the city was seen as backwater and his critics thought they couls shit him up by seding him there. Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “Yet any expectation that exile and a consolation-prize seat on the Politburo would bank Mr. Bo's ambitions proved misplaced. Instead, he reprised his Dalian agenda, spending billions to plaster the city with ginkgo trees, luring foreign investment, publicizing his accomplishments—and spearheading an anticorruption drive that took on aspects of the Cultural Revolution purges that claimed his father. [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

In Chongqing, Bo embarked on a series of campaigns. Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Bo's ideology is decidedly un-American, in the 1950s-McCarthyism sense—he's a hard-core Maoist best known for a campaign to sing revolutionary songs—but his style was straight out of American politics. In public, he spoke without a script and basked in media attention....That didn't sit well with China's tight-lipped apparatchiks. “They were offended by his courting the media and promoting himself as a personality," said Patrick Chovanec, an economist and political analyst at Beijing's Tsinghua University. “If that became the new template of how you compete in Chinese politics, a lot of them would have been in trouble." [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2012]

Bo Xilai's and the Chongqing Model

Reuters reported: Sharply dressed in a party of stolid conformists, Bo arrived in Chongqing in 2007 and promoted the city as a bold egalitarian alternative to China's current pattern of growth. As the "princeling" son of a revolutionary leader, Bo had added claim to speak on behalf of the party's traditions. But his promotion of Mao Zedong-inspired "red" culture and sweeping crackdown on organised crime prompted fears that he risked reviving some of the arbitrary lawlessness of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s - a criticism that Premier Wen Jiabao laid before the public in mid-March.

Willy Lam of the Jamestown Foundation wrote in China Brief, “Since Bo became party chief of China's most populous city in late 2007, the flamboyant former minister of commerce has made headlines with his no-holds-barred advocacy of Maoist norms. In his speeches, the charismatic Bo has profusely cited Mao-era slogans such as “plain living and hard struggle” and “human beings need to have [a revolutionary] spirit” He has resuscitated Cultural Revolution-vintage revolutionary operas. Bo...even asks his secretaries to regularly text-message Mao quotations to the city's students On the economic front, the high-profile “princeling” has made waves with his attempts to go after “red GDP," a reference to economic construction that exemplifies Maoist egalitarianism. Chongqing has emerged as a national pacesetter in social-welfare policies such as providing subsidized public housing to the city's masses [Source: Willy Lam, Jamestown Foundation, China Brief, December 17, 2010]

Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: Bo had a keen interest in economics and a reputation for getting things done. Nobody paid much attention to the fate of Jiang Weiping, a journalist who spent five years in jail after he reported on how Bo had covered up corruption among friends and relatives while working as a senior official in Manchuria in the 1990s. [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, March 4, 2012]

Lam wrote in China Brief, Xilai “Apart from staging revolutionary operas and putting up Mao statues, Bo and company have sought to take better care of disadvantaged sectors in the municipality by building more social-security apartments and providing near-universal health care and pension. Singing the praise of “redness” means supporting what is right, Bo, a leading member of the so-called Gang of Princelings, said recently. A city must do a good job of nurturing spiritual civilization. He added that cadres who are obsessed with GDP rates—but who lack spiritual values—may go down the road of corruption and degeneration (China News Service, April 20; Chongqing Daily, March 18). [Source: Willy Lam, China Brief, April. 29, 2010]

Bo promoted the “Chongqing model," a system of governance that mixed old-style communist morality, modern economic efficiency and zero tolerance of crime. Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, “The “Chongqing model," as it has been called in the local media, seemed to win an endorsement from the top when China's leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, made a brief visit in December and applauded the city for “upholding socialist norms." Other senior leaders have also traveled here to show their backing. But Bo, in the interview, said he was not focused on creating a national model. “I study the problems of the place where I work," he said. ‘so right now, I am just focused on the problems of Chongqing." [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 29. 2011]

Economy of Chongqing

Chongqing serves as the economic centre of the upstream Yangtze basin. It is a major manufacturing centre and transportation hub. In a July 2012 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, it was named as one of the 13 emerging megacities, or megalopolises, in China. There has been and continues to be massive government support to transform Chongqing into central China’s economic, trade, and financial centre and use it as a platform to open up the country's western interior to further development.

Chongqing is a major car, motorcycle and steel manufacturer, producing more than a million vehicles a year. It has attracted workers tired of the coastal areas, wanting to work closer to home. Chongqing is China's third largest car producer and it largest motorcycle maker. In 2007, it had an annual output capacity of 1 million cars and 8.6 million motorcycles. Among the major automakers in the city are Changan Automotive Corp, China's fourth biggest automaker, and Lifan Hongda Enterprise. The Ford Motor Company has three plants in Chongqing. The municipality of is also one of the nine largest iron and steel centres in China and one of the three major aluminium producers.

The Chongqing economy grew in the 2000s at at rate of 14 percent a year (15.6 percent in 2006), compared to 10 or 11 percent for the rest of the country. It received investment from dozens of the world's top 500 corporations. Chongqing's GDP rose 15.2 percent to US$2,030 in 2006 but that still less than a quarter of Shanghai's and half of Chengdu’s. Chongqing's nominal GDP in 2011 reached US$158.9 billion and registered growth of 16.4 percent, however its overall economic performance still lagged behind eastern coastal cities such as Shanghai. Its per capita GDP was US$3,301, below the national average. In 2019, Chongqing’s economy was ranked ninth out 31 provinces and municipalities with a per capita GDP of US$10,992.

Organized Crime in Chongqing

Chongqing is —or used to be — regarded as the center of organized crime in China. Police there estimated that gangs there ran an illegal loan businesses worth as much as $4 billion---equivalent to a third of the city's annual revenue in the late 2000s. [Source: Tania Branigan The Guardian (August 19, 2009]

Gangs in Chongqing are known for “having a long history, wide coverage, deep connections, huge membership, high quality, and vicious influence." A computer firm employee who gave only his surname, Wang, told The Guardian, “Chongqing is a port city with a history of violence. It's what people always talk about over tea."

Liu Guanglei, a high-level official, told the Chongqing Evening News gangs were involved in “prostitution, gambling, drugs and guns”, and that their crimes included murder and kidnapping. The city's police chief said that organized crime was hiding behind legal businesses and had entered many industries through blackmail, extortion and illegal loans.

As well as prostitution, loan sharking and drugs, gangs were mainly involved with small businesses, Chongqing deputy police chief Wang Lijun said. “In the fish market the gangsters would fix a higher price and force everyone to follow it. Anyone who disputed their ruling was beaten. Since the crackdown, business is fairer." Chongqing was also known as a hotbed of illegal gun trafficking. In January 2009, police netted 470 suspects and 183 firearms following a 40-day campaign. In 2008, Chongqing municipal public security bureau statistics showed 339 cases involving illegal guns. [Source: Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, October 21, 2009]

Police launched a crackdown on organized crime in Chongqing in June 2009 involved more than 2,000 suspects---including local politicians whose palms were routinely greased by triad bosses. As of mid August police said they were searching for 469 suspects from 14 gangs---on top of the 1,544 already detained. They are holding 19 alleged leaders and issued the photographs of 67 more for whom they already have warrants. The effort was led by police chief, Wang Lijun, has a reputation as a “mafia buster," and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who became the city's top official in 2007. According to the South China Morning Post, the 40-year-old Wang has 20 scars from knife and bullet wounds, and was once in a coma for 10 days due to his long-term battle with the triads. [Source: Tania Branigan The Guardian (August 19, 2009]

Metro and Public Transportation in Chongqing

Public transport in Chongqing consists of metro, intercity railway, a ubiquitous bus system and the world's largest monorail network. Chongqing is the only Chinese city that has public aerial tramways. Historically there were three aerial tramways in Chongqing: the Yangtze River Tramway, the Jialing River Tramway and the South Mountain Tramway. Currently, only Yangtze River Tramway is still operating and it is regarded as a tourist attractions in China. It is 1,160 meters (3,810 feet) long, connecting the southern and northern banks of Yangtze River, carrying about 10,000 passengers a day. Bicycles are rarely seen because the city is hilly and rises up so steeply from the Yangtze.

The Chongqing Metro is formally known as the Chongqing Rail Transit CRT). Opened in 2005, it is comprised of eight lines with 326.9 kilometers of track and 189 station, of which 228.4 kilometers and 118 stations are heavy rail and 98.5 kilometers and 70 stations are monorail.. The system serves Chongqing’s main business and entertainment downtown areas and inner suburbs. Lines 1, 4, 5, 6, 10 and the Loop line are conventional heavy-rail subways, while Lines 2 and 3 are monorails. Lines 9, 18 and Hundreds are being constructed and Lines 1, 4, 5, 6, are being extended. A network of 18 lines is planned. Chongqing Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net

The following are the current lines: Loop Line runs from Chongqing Library (Shapingba) to Erlang (Jiulongpo). Opened in 2018 and expanded in 2019, it has 43.2 kilometers of track and 26 stations.
Line 1 runs from Xiaoshizi (Yuzhong) to Bishan (Bishan). Opened in 2011 and expanded in 2019, it has 44.5 kilometers of track and 24 stations.
Line 2 runs from Jiaochangkou (Yuzhong) to Yudong (Ba'nan). Opened in 2005 and expanded in 2014, it has 31.4 kilometers of track and 25 stations.
Line 3 runs from Yudong (Ba'nan) to Terminal 2 of Jiangbei Airport (Yubei). Opened in 2011 and expanded in 2016, it has 56.1 kilometers of track and 45 stations.
Line 4 runs from Min'an Ave (Yubei) to Tangjiatuo (Jiangbei). Opened in 2018 and expanded in 2019, it has 15.6 kilometers of track and 8 stations.
Line 5 runs from The Expo Garden Center (Yubei)to Dashiba (Jiangbei). Opened in 2017 and expanded in 2018, it has 15.8 kilometers of track and 10 stations.
Line 6 runs from Chayuan (Nan'an) to Beibei (Beibei). Opened in 2012 and expanded in 2015, it has 63.3 kilometers of track and 33 stations.
Line 10 runs from Liyuchi (Jiangbei) to Wangjiazhuang (Yubei). Opened in 2017, it has 33.4 kilometers of track and 19 stations.

Getting to Chongqing

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport is the main airport in Chongqing. Located in Yubei District, it is located 21 kilometers miles) north of the city-centre and serves as an aviation hub for south-western China and China Southern Airlines, Chongqing Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, China Express Airlines, Shandong Airlines and Hainan Airlines's new China West Air. The airport has flights to most major cities in to China as well as to international destinations such as Auckland, New York City, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Doha, Dubai, Seoul, Bangkok, Phuket, Osaka, Singapore, Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Malé, Bali, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Batam, Rome and Helsinki. Line 3 of the Chongqing Metro runs to Terminal 2 of Jiangbei Airport.

Chongqing River Port is is one of the most important inland ports in China. Numerous luxury cruise ships and many not so luxurious ones depart from Chongqing, heading downstream along the Yangtze River to Yichang, Wuhan, Nanjing or Shanghai. There are also ones heading in the other direction. In the old days such boats were the primary mode of transportation. These days there are ordinary trains, fast trains and regular flights are river traffic has been greatly reduced or cancelled. Most of the river ferries and boats cater to tourists rather than provide transpor for locals. The construction of the Three Gorges Dam has made it easier for large boats to travel up the Yangtze as far as Chongqing and has allowed bulk transport of goods on the Yangtze River. Coal, raw minerals and containerized goods provide the majority of traffic plying this section of the river.

Fast Trains connect Chongqing with Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Changsha, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou, Xiamen and other cities. Trains between Chongqing and Chengdu cover 319 kilometers (198 miles) and take 1.5-2.5 hours. There are fiver or six trains every hour. The 2000-kilometer trip to Beijing takes about 12 hours. There are two trains plying this route that leave in the morning

Chongqing Railway Stations: 1) Yuzhong (Metro Lines 1 and 3, Lianglukou Metro station) is the city's oldest railway station and located near the city centre. The station handles mostly long-distance trains. There are plans for a major renovation and overhaul of this station, thus many services have been transferred to Chongqing North Railway Station. 2) Chongqing North railway station handles many long-distance services and high-speed rail services to Chengdu, Beijing and other cities. It was completed in 2006 and is connected to Metro Line 3) Chongqing West railway station in Shapingb handles many long-distance services and high-speed rail services to many cities. It is completed in 2018. 4) Shapingba railway station in Shapingba, near Shapingba CBD, accessible via Metro Line 1, handles many local and regional train services. It is completed in 2018.

Sights in Chongqing City

The Yangtze River's largest port, in Chongqing, is the departure point for boat trips to the the Three Gorges area and other destinations on the Yangtze River. Two of Chongqing most interesting natural features are its north and south hot springs parks, Beiwenquan and Nanwenquan. Chongqing Zoo has rare species such as the Giant Panda, the extremely rare South China Tiger as well as African elephants. The zoo is on the bank of the Yangtze. The Three Gorges are visible from the zoo. Beautifully landscaped Goose Peak Park is another popular tourist spots. The Research Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting has a workshops and studios for some of the region’s top artists.

The central district of Chongqing features narrow streets and pedestrian only walkways. Renmin Hotel, a luxurious hotel near downtown Chongqing, is styled as an ancient palace. Also worth a look are Luohan Si, a Ming Dynasty temple, Hongyadong stilted house, and the former sites for embassies of major countries during the 1940s. As the capital at that time, Chongqing had many residential and other buildings for these officials.

From 1937 to 1945, during the Japanese occupation of eastern China and World War II, Chongqing was the provisional Capital of China and served as a headquarters of the Allies. Chongqing has many historic war-time buildings or sites, some of which have since been destroyed. These sites include the air force cemetery in the Nanshan area, in memory of those air force personnel killed during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), and the People's Liberation Monument, located in the center of Chongqing city. It used to be the highest building in the area, but is now surrounded and dwarfed by numerous shopping centres. Originally named the Monument for the Victory over Axis Armies, it is the only building in China for that purpose. Today, the monument serves as a symbol for the city.

Arhat Temple (Minzu Road, Yuzhong District) is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China, and is now the seat of the Chongqing Buddhism Association. The temple, originally known as Zhiping Temple, was built during the Zhiping reign (1064-1067) of the Northern Song Dynasty, and was revamped in 1885 or the 11th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty. Since five hundred clay arhats were sculptured in the temple, it changed its name to Arhat Temple. Now, the Grand Hall of the temple houses 16 Buddhist statues, as well as the bronze statues of the “Three Saints from the West” and a jade sculpture of Shakyamuni and other Buddhist art treasures, The Arhat Hall also showcases 524 clay figurines, whose vivid postures embody exquisite craftsmanship. In the Scripture Storage Building, there houses a large collection of Buddhism classivcs, classical works in Sanskrit and Tibetan languages and other old books, handwritings and paintings. Most of the valuable works were created in the Tang (618-907) and the Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. Location: Minzu Road, Yuzhong District,Chongqing, Tel:0086-23-63626814

Shopping and Entertainment Areas in Chongqing City

Jiefangbei Shopping Square is Chongqing’s main shopping street. Situated in the commercial heart.of the city, it is a broad, paved pedestrian square with numerous glassy office skyscrapers and high-rise hotels. Around Jiefangbei there are more than 3,000 stores, more than two dozen large malls and shopping centers, dozens of star-graded hotels, and offices, banks, stock markets, trade and finance companies, postal and telecommunication services, and places of entertainment.

Chaotianmen Square (near where the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers meet in the northeast of Chongqing) is the home of Chaotianmen Gate, first built in 314 B.C. and rebuilt in the early Ming Dynasty. Known as the “Magnificent Pass to Ancient Yu” the gate was the largest among the 17 gates among Chongqing’s old city walls. It was also known as Chaotianmen, or the Gate of Paying Tribute to Heaven, because it was the place where local officials received the imperial decrees. The Chaotianmen Square was built near the Chaotian Gate in 1997. The 80,000-square-meter square is an excellent place to enjoy viewing the mergence of the two rivers and the beautiful scenery among the banks of the rivers.

Liberation Monument CBD (at the confluence of Minquan Road, Minzu Road and Zourong Road in Yuzhong District) is one of most bustling areas in Chongqing and a population shopping area. Famous brand products and local souvenirs are sold here. The pedestrian street of Liberation Monument Shopping Plaza is 620 meters long from east to west and 350 meters wide from south to north, with a total area of 36,000 square meters. It is a modern shopping area integrating shopping, leisure, tourism, business, catering service and recreation, hence the name the ‘No. 1 Street in Southwest China”.

Raffles City Chongqing’s Horizontal Skyscraper

Raffles City Chongqing is the 69th tallest building in the world. (as of 2020). Completed in 2018, it is 354.5 meters tall and has 79 floors. It is the cornerstone of the Raffles City Chongqing project, dubbed China's 'horizontal skyscraper'. Tamara Hardingham-Gill of CNN wrote: “Devised by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, it measures a staggering 1.12-million-square-meters and consists of a collection of eight towers and a gigantic connecting skybridge, which is being called a "horizontal skyscraper." The 250-meter-long skybridge, named Crystal, is said to be one of the world's highest” and has a “viewing gallery, sky gardens, an infinity pool and various restaurants. If that wasn't enough, the skybridge also transforms into a giant light beam at night time, illuminating the sky with a rousing light show.[Source: Tamara Hardingham-Gill CNN, February 27, 2019]

“The Raffles City Chongqing complex” also includes “a 230,000-square-meter shopping mall, 1,400 residential apartments, a luxury hotel and 160,000 square meters of lavish office space. The eighth and final skyscraper of the US$3.8 billion megastructure was recently topped out...The design was inspired by traditional Chinese sailing vessels, a nod to Chongqing's past as a trading center. The ambitious development is located in the center of the center, facing the intersection of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers.

“According to Lucas Loh, deputy CEO and CIO of CapitaLand China, trees are being transported over to "enliven the skybridge," which will apparently feature the tallest observation deck in western China. "After six years of construction using state of the art engineering technologies, we are proud to present in Raffles City Chongqing an iconic architectural form resembling a powerful sail surging forward on the historic Chaotianmen site," Loh said in a statement. "Positioned as a must-visit destination for local residents as well as domestic and overseas travelers, Raffles City Chongqing has been garnering strong response from our customers." Occupying 9.2 hectares of site area, Raffles City Chongqing is CapitaLand's eighth Raffles City development in China. The others are in Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shenzhen and Shanghai, which has two.

Historical Area of Chongqing

Ancient Ciqikou Town (in Shapingba District on the bank of the Jialing River, three kilometers from downtown Chongqing) covers 1.5 square kilometers, and is rich in unique traditional culture and historical sites. Originally known as Baiyachang and built in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the town became famous in the Ming and Qing dynasties for the production and shipment of blue and white porcelain wares. As an important port on the jialing River, it was once a very prosperous town, nicknamed “Lesser Chongqing.” The building are plain-looking but many are very old and well preserved. The town is also famous for various local snacks, tea houses and traditional folk shows. such as oil crops compressing, silk reeling, candy making, dough figurine sculpturing and Sichuan Opera. Getting There: Take Bus No. 220,261,808 or 843 and get off at Ciqikou

Great Hall of the People (at Xuetianwan on Renmin Road) is housed in a building whose design is based on the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. One of the largest public assembly buildings in China, it incorporates traditional architectural styles and is adjacent to the densely populated and hilly central district. Built between 1951 and 1954, the building complex is modeled upon the imperial palaces in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. featuring an axially symmetric layout. It consists of four buildings — a main auditorium and the east-wing, south-wing and north-wing buildings, with a total area of 66,000 square meters. The 55-meter-high, five-story main auditorium covers an area of 25,000 square meters with a seating capacity of more than 4,200. A square with a lawn and fountains, named the People’s Square, was built in front of the hall in 1997.

Museums in Chongqing

Chongqing Museum (72 Pipashan Zhengjie, Yuzhong District) was built in 1951. Originally named the Southwest Museum, it has an exhibition hall of more than 3,000 square meters, and boasts a collection of 100,000 cultural relics and 100,000 valuable books. Treasures in its collection include paintings by famous painters since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), porcelain wares made by renowned kilns, boccaro wares of the Ming and Qing dynasties, coins, stone rubbings and stone tablets from various dynasties, and stone frescos of the Han Dynasty (260 B.C-A.D.24). These relics are historically and culturally significant to the studies of the Ba-Yu culture, folk culture and the modern history of Chongqing. Location: 72 Pipashan Zhengjie, Yuzhong District, Tel: 0086-23-63503390 Getting There: Take Buk No. 402,403,601 or 603.

Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum (western side of People’s Square) is dedicated to the protection, study and display of the historical and cultural heritages in Chongqing and the Three Gorges area. The main architectural structure of the museum is a gorgeous and magnificent building with 23,000 square meters of exhibition space and a collection of more than 170,000 cultural relics, many of them unearthed from areas submerged by the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. The museum has four major exhibition halls. The Hall of Splendid Three Gorges showcases the history and culture of the Three Gorges area: the Hall of Ancient Ba-Yu Culture focuses on the history of Chongqing. The Hall of Urban Development highlights the changes that have taken place in the city. The Hall of Anti-Japanese Years tells Chongqing’s story during the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance” (World War II and the Japanese occupation of eastern China). Location: Renmin Rd, Yuzhong,

Long Museum is a private art museum founded by Chinese billionaire collectors Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei. The museum has two locations in Shanghai. In 2016, a third location was opened in Chongqing and forth branch was slated to open in Wuhan in 2018. The Long Museum Pudong was officially opened in 2012. The Long Museum West Bund opened in 2014 and was China's largest private museum at the time of its opening. The architecture was designed by Liu Yichun of Atelier Deshaus. Website: /thelongmuseum.org

Red Tourism Sights in Chongqing

Chongqing is regarded as a Red Tourism Sight. Three Gorges Square in the heart of downtown, is where scores of retirees gathered every afternoon to play instruments and sing Chinese songs during Bo Xilai’s “Red Revival,” when people were encouraged people to sing patriotic revolutionary anthems from the Mao era, and group singing campaigns were organized.

Kuomintang Concentration Camp was set up by the Military Commission of the Nationalists (Kuomintang, KMT) government during the Anti-Japanese War. Baigongguan Prison and the Wanglongmen House of Detention, in Chongqing, were the "middle school" and "primary school" respectively. The camps in Guizhou Province — Yanglangba of Xifeng County and the prison itself, at Xuantiandong — were the "university" within the system,

Hongyan (Red Rock) Revolutionary Memorial Hall (13 Hongyan Village, Hualongqiao, Shapingba District, 20-25 minutes from central Chongqing) was originally known as Hongyan (Red Rock) Village. It is a war time relic that once housed the Communist party and the Kuomintang against the common enemy of the Japanese during World War II. The Village is now home to a Revolutionary History Museum, a diplomatic site for the Communist Party led by Zhou Enlai during World War II. It is where Mao Zedong signed the "Double 10 (10 October) Peace Agreement" with the Kuomintang. The memorial hall was the office of the Southern Bureau of the CPC as well as the office of the Eighth Route Army in Chongqing from 1938 to 1946 during the war of resistance against Japan and the liberation war. A number of prominent Chinese Communist Party leaders, including Zhou Enlai (1898-1976), Dong Biwu (1886-1975) and Ye Jianying (1897-1986), worked here for many years. They all made contributions to the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Near Chongqing City

Chongqing boasts beautiful landscapes, fascinating night scenes, cultural sites related to the Three Kingdoms Period, beautiful Dazu Rock Carvings, the precipitous Three Gorges on the Yangtze River and many other places of scenic and historical interest. Ciqikou is a 1000-year-old town in the Shapingba District of Chongqing. It is also known as Little Chongqing. The town, located next to the lower reaches of the Jialing River, was at one time an important source of chinawares and used to be a busy commercial dock during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Tongliang County Museum (in Bachuan Town, Tongliang County, 70 kilometers northwest of Chongqing city) covers an area of 10,000 aquare meters and has a floor space of 7,000 square meters. It is one of the landmark architectural structures in the county. There are four exhibition halls, showing over 11,000 precious cultural relics. Among them, the “Bronze Tripod,””Stone Encourage Figurines of the Ming Dynasty,””No. 1 Corridor of Horizontal Inscribed Boards in China” and “Bronze Dragon Lamp” are the most precious treasures of the museum. General Joseph W. Stilwell Museum (in Bachuan Town, Tongliang County, 70 kilometers northwest of Chongqing city) is dedicated to General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, a World War II general

Fishing Town is also called Fishing City, the “Oriental Mecca” and “the Place That Broke God's Whip.” One of the three great ancient battlefields of China, it is where the Mongol leader Möngke Khan died in 1259 and Imperial Chinese forces resisted the Mongol armies during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279). Xueyu Cave in Fengdu County is the only example of a pure-white, jade-like karst cave in China.

Pianyan Ancient Town (150 kilometers east-northeast of Chongqing) was a business center in imperial China. With a history of more than 300 years, the town sits between two extensions of Huaying Mountain, with the winding crystal Heishuitan River flowing by. The streets, architecture, culture and customs of the town have remained and are well-preserved. Simple but elegant buildings along the streets have never been renovated, and maintain their original look. The most unique attractions in Pianyan Town are the Yuanyang Bridge, Couple Trees and Female Smith Forge.

Yuanyang Bridge in Pianyan Ancient Town was built at the intersection of the mainstream and a branch of Heishuitan River in 1809, during the Qing Dynasty. Two Ficus trees stand on either end of the bridge. As time passed, the two trees grew toward each other, and their branches and roots have been twining together, like an embracing couple. This was the reason why people called them the Couple Trees. There was a smith forge in the town. Different from other smith forges, a woman worked as a blacksmith in this forge, which created a beautiful scene in the town. The Wu Temple, Book House, Opera Tower, Stilted Houses by the river and the ancient street paved with blue stone slabs are also worth a visit.

Guang'an (100 kilometers north of Chongqing, 250 kilometers east of Chengdu) is a prefecture-level city in eastern Sichuan province most famous as the birthplace of China's former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Guang'an lies between the hills of central Sichuan and the gorges area of the east. It is the only "Sichuan Chongqing Cooperation Demonstration Zone" in Sichuan and the nearest prefecture level city from the main city of Chongqing. It has been incorporated into the 1 hour economic circle of Chongqing. Because of its strategic location, it is called the "Gateway to Eastern Sichuan". Its population is around 3,2 million. The city has its own subway system. Guang'an Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net

Dazu

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Dazu (in Wuxi County, 160 kilometers northwest of Chongqing) is the home of Dazu stone sculptures, which are found in 75 protected areas around Dazu. Sculpted between 1179 and 1249 during the Song dynasty, the sculptures are laid out in precise plan, and if it wasn't for the efforts of Zhou Enlai they probably all would have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. There about 50,000 statues in all, with over 100,000 Chinese character inscriptions. In 1999, the Dazu Rock Carvings were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

According to UNESCO: “The steep hillsides of the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of rock carvings dating from the 9th to the 13th century. They are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

The site is important because: 1) The Dazu Carvings represent the pinnacle of Chinese rock art in their high aesthetic quality and their diversity of style and subject matter. 2) Tantric Buddhism from India and Chinese Taoist and Confucian beliefs came together at Dazu to create a highly original and influential manifestation of spiritual harmony. 3) The eclectic nature of religious belief in late Imperial China is given material expression in the exceptional artistic heritage of the Dazu rock art.

Web Sites: Travel China Guide (click attractions) Travel China Guide UNESCO World Heritage Site site: UNESCO Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Dazu is accessible by bus from Chongqing.Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

Statues and Carvings in the Dazu Area

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Dazu shike
The Dazu Rock Carvings site contains Chinese religious sculptures and carvings, dating back as far as the 7th century Baoding Hill (16 kilometers from Dazu) contains the largest, richest and most exquisite collection of Dazu stone statues. Located at the foot of the hill are 10,000 statues, many of them beautifully painted, in a 500-meter-long series of grottos. The most distinctive statues include Thousand Arm Goddess of Mercy, a series of demonic figures, and Sleeping Buddha, a 100-foot-long painting of Buddha with dozens of figures painted in front of it. Nearby on a cliff there is small temple with 1,007 gilded hands and eyes. Dazu shike Beishan Hill (three kilometer mile walk from Dazu) contains the second most impressive set of statues in the Dazu area. Located at the foot of this hill are 264 shrines and 7,000 statues in a 500-meter-long series of grottos. There are also impressive rock sculptures and spectacular scenery, including steep rice terraces, bamboo forest and lots ducks, around Beishan Hill.

UNESCO recognizes five main sites. According to UNESCO: “The largest cluster at Beishan contains two groups along a cliff face 7-10 meters high stretching for around 300 meters. There are more than 10,000 carvings dating from the late 9th to the mid-12th century which depict themes of Tantric Buddhism and Taoism. Inscriptions give insight to the history, religious beliefs, dating and the identification of historical figures. The late 11thcentury Song dynasty carvings at Shizhuanshan extend over 130 meters and depict Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian images in a rare tripartite arrangement. The Song dynasty carvings at Shimenshan dating from the first half of the 12th century extend along 72 meters and integrate Buddhist and Taoist subjects. At Nanshan the Song dynasty carvings of the 12th century extend over a length of 86 meters and depict mostly Taoist subjects. The culmination in terms of expression of Tantric Buddhism is found in the U shaped gorge at Baodingshan which contains two groups of carvings dating from the late 12th to the mid-13th century near the Holy Longevity Monastery. The very large group to the west stretches for about 500 meters and comprises 31 groups of carved figures depicting themes from Tantric Buddhism as well scenes of herdsmen and ordinary life.

“The carvings are known for their grand scale, aesthetic quality and rich diversity of subject matter as well as for being well preserved. Standing as an example of the highest level of Chinese cave temple art dating from the 9th to 13th centuries, the Dazu Rock Carvings not only underline the harmonious coexistence in China of three different religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also provide material proof that cave temple art has increasingly shed light on everyday life. Large numbers of carvings and written historical materials within the heritage site show the great changes in and development of cave temple art and religious beliefs in China during that period.”

UNESCO World Heritage Site Karst Formation in Chongqing

Wulong Karst (60 kilometers west of Chongqing city) is a karst landscape located within the borders of Wulong County, Chongqing Municipality. A component of the the South China Karst, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, Wulong Karst consists of a high inland karst plateaux that have experienced considerable uplift. Its giant dolines (a hollow or basin in a karstic region, typically funnel-shaped.) and bridges are representative of South China’s tiankeng (giant collapse depression) landscapes, and provide the evidence for the history of one of the world’s great river systems, the Yangtze and its tributaries. The Wulong Karst component is a cluster of three core zones, each with a separate buffer zone. The total area is 6,000 hectares with buffer zones of 32,000 hectares.

Wulong Karst is divided into three sections: 1) Three Natural Bridges, 2) the Qingkou Tiankeng and 3) Furong Cave. is a part of the Wulong Karst National Geology Park as well as part of the South China Karst, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The Wulong gorge karst system has many canyons and various forms, with typical V-shaped canyons, box-shaped canyons, slit canyons and the double-circulation canyons formed by them and the combination of canyon and tiankeng constitute a grand natural bridge group, which is the evidence of the evolution stage of the gorge karst. The canyon and its underflow have a special combination, which is of great significance and a good place to study the formation mechanism of the karst gorge. Getu River Scenic Spot almost contains all the features of karst landform, such as fenglin, fengcong, gorges, valleys, depressions. These landscape combinations can form multi-dimensional aesthetic. Getu River Scenic Spot is a serial interconnected whole with outstanding aesthetic and scientific value, constituting the unique karst natural park. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO]

Wulong Temple has Buddhist, Taoist and the Confucian influences and integrates the two functions of religious and military defense. The outer wall of buildings is made of stone, which is rarely seen in building of the Han nationality, and it is honored as ―a model of stone buildings and ―a bright pearl in mountains by building experts.

Three Natural Bridges is a series of natural limestone bridges located in Xiannushan Town that forms the nucleus of the 22 square kilometers (8.5 square mile) conservation area which includes the following features: 1) Tianlong Qinglong and Heilong limestone bridges; 2) Qinglong Tiankeng; 3) Shenying Tiankeng; 4) Yangshui River Karst Canyon; 5) Longshui Gorge; 6) Central Shiyuan Tiankeng; 7) Lower Shiyuan Tiankeng; 8) Seventy-two Branch Cave; 9) Longquan Cave; 10) Immortal Cave; 11) Hidden Monkey Stream; 12) Hidden Baiguo Stream; 13) Niubizidong Tiankeng; and Qingkou Tiankeng Scenic Area;

Qingkou Tiankeng Scenic Area (around Houping Township, Wulong County, 100 kilometers east-southeast of of Chongqing) includes five tiankengs: 1) Qingkou Tiankeng; 2) Niubizidong Tiankeng; 3) Daluodang Tiankeng; 4) Tianpingmiao Tiankeng; and 5) Shiwangdong Tiankeng; and nearby caves. This is the only currently known tiankeng cluster in the world hypothesized to have formed by surface water erosion.A tiankeng is a type of very large collapse or sinkhole that has evolved by roof collapse over a large cave chamber where a huge mass of breakdown debris has been removed by a substantial cave river. The Qingkou Tiankeng Scenic Area (sometimes known as the Houping mechanical-erosion karst tiankeng system) comprises a 7,134 hectare core zone and 46,781 hectare buffer zone.

Furong Cave (Jiangkou Town, Wulong County, 200 kilometers east-southeast of Chongqing) is 20 kilometers from the county town, near the confluence of the Furong and Wu rivers. The cave is 2,846 meters (9,337 feet) long and features numerous vertical shafts running through the limestone. Stalactites and other sedimentary features abound throughout the cave, and it is open daily for tours. The Furong Cave-Furong Jiang area comprises a 3,941-hectare core zone and 24,024 hectare buffer zone.

Jinfoshan Karst (75 kilometers south-southeast of of Chongqing city) is a component of the South China Karst, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. It is located in Chongqing province within the boundaries of the Jinfoshan National Nature Reserve and Jinfoshan National Park. The Jinfoshan component has an area of 6,744 hectares and a buffer zone of 10,675 hectares. The Jinfoshan Karst component is a unique karst table mountain surrounded by towering cliffs.

South China Karst

The South China Karst was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. According to UNESCO: South China Karst is one of the world’s most spectacular examples of humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes. It is a serial site spread over the provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Yunnan and Chongqing and covers 176,228 hectares. It contains the most significant types of karst landforms, including tower karst, pinnacle karst and cone karst formations, along with other spectacular characteristics such as natural bridges, gorges and large cave systems. The stone forests of Shilin are considered superlative natural phenomena and a world reference. The cone and tower karsts of Libo, also considered the world reference site for these types of karst, form a distinctive and beautiful landscape. Wulong Karst has been inscribed for its giant dolines (sinkholes), natural bridges and caves.

“The huge karst area of South China is about 550,000 square kilometers in extent. The karst terrain displays a geomorphic transition as the terrain gradually descends about 2000 meters over 700 kilometers from the western Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau (averaging 2100 meters elevation) to the eastern Guangxi Basin (averaging 110 meters elevation). The region is recognized as the world’s type area for karst landform development in the humid tropics and subtropics. The World Heritage Property of South China Karst is a serial property that includes seven karst clusters in four Provinces: Shilin Karst, Libo Karst, Wulong Karst, Guilin Karst, Shibing Karst, Jinfoshan Karst, and Huanjiang Karst. The total area is 97,125 hectares, with a buffer zone of 176,228 hectares. The property was inscribed in two phases.

“The property contains the most spectacular, scientifically significant and representative series of karst landforms and landscapes of South China from interior high plateau to lowland plains and constitutes the world’s premier example of humid tropical to subtropical karst: one of our planet’s great landscapes. It complements sites that are also present in neighbouring countries, including Viet Nam, where several World Heritage properties also exhibit karst formations. Phase I inscribed in 2007, include three clusters totalling 47,588 hectares, with buffer zones totalling 98,428 hectares.Phase II inscribed in 2014 includes four clusters totaling 49,537 hectares, and buffer zones totaling 77,800 hectares. The property’s forest cover and natural vegetation is mainly intact, providing seasonal variation to the landscape and further enhancing the property’s very high aesthetic value. Intact forest cover also provides important habitat for rare and endangered species, and several components have very high biodiversity conservation value.

“The South China Karst World Heritage property includes spectacular karst features and landscapes, which are both exceptional phenomena, and of outstanding aesthetic quality. It includes the stone forests of Shilin, superlative natural phenomena which include the Naigu stone forest occurring on dolomitic limestone and the Suyishan stone forest arising from a lake, the remarkable fengcong and fenglin karsts of Libo, and the Wulong Karst, which includes giant collapse depressions, called Tiankeng, and exceptionally high natural bridges between them, with long stretches of deep unroofed caves.

“It also includes Guilin, which displays spectacular tower karst and internationally acclaimed fenglin riverine landscapes, Shibing Karst, which has the best known example of subtropical fengcong karst in dolomite, deep gorges and spine-like hills often draped with cloud and mist, and Jinfoshan Karst, which is an isolated island long detached from the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau, surrounded by precipitous cliffs and punctured by ancient caves. Huanjiang Karst provides a natural extension to Libo Karst, contains outstanding fengcong features and is covered in almost pristine monsoon forest.”

Geology and Geomorphology of the South China Karst

The South China Karst World Heritage property protects a diversity of spectacular and iconic continental karst landscapes, including tower karst (fenglin), pinnacle karst (shilin) and cone karst (fengcong), as well as other karst phenomena such as Tiankeng karst (giant dolines), table mountains and gorges. The property also includes many large cave systems with rich speleothem deposits. The karst features and geomorphological diversity of the South China Karst are widely recognized as among the best in the world. The region can be considered the global type-site for three karst landform styles: fenglin (tower karst), fengcong (cone karst), and shilin (stone forest or pinnacle karst).The landscape also retains most of its natural vegetation, which results in seasonal variations and adds to the outstanding aesthetic value of the area.

“The South China Karst World Heritage property reveals the complex evolutionary history of one of the world’s most outstanding landscapes. Shilin and Libo are global reference areas for the karst features and landscapes that they exhibit. The stone forests of Shilin developed over 270 million years during four major geological time periods from the Permian to present, illustrating the episodic nature of the evolution of these karst features. Libo contains carbonate outcrops of different ages shaped over millions of years by erosive processes into impressive Fengcong and Fenglin karsts. Libo also contains a combination of numerous tall karst peaks, deep dolines, sinking streams and long river caves. Wulong represents high inland karst plateaus that have experienced considerable uplift, with giant dolines and bridges. Wulong's landscapes contain evidence for the history of one of the world's great river systems, the Yangtze and its tributaries. Huanjiang Karst is an extension of the Libo Karst component. Together the two sites provide an outstanding example of fengcong karst and also preserve and display a rich diversity of surface and underground karst features.

“Guilin Karst is considered the best known example of continental fenglin and provides a perfect geomorphic expression of the end stage of karst evolution in South China. Guilin is a basin at a relatively low altitude and receives abundant allogenic (rainfed) water from surrounding hills, leading to a fluvial component that aids fenglin development, resulting in fenglin and fengcong karst side-by-side over a large area. Scientific study of karst development in the region has resulted in the generation of the ‘Guilin model’ of fengcong and fenglin karst evolution. Shibing Karst provides a spectacular fengcong landscape, which is also exceptional because it developed in relatively insoluble dolomite rocks. Shibing also contains a range of minor karst features including karren, tufa deposits and caves. Jinfoshan Karst is a unique karst table mountain surrounded by massive towering cliffs. It represents a piece of dissected plateau karst isolated from the Yunnan-Guizhou-Chonqing plateau by deep fluvial incision. An ancient planation surface remains on the summit, with an ancient weathering crust. Beneath the plateau surface are dismembered horizontal cave systems that appear at high altitude on cliff faces. Jinfoshan records the process of dissection of the high elevation karst plateau and contains evidence of the region’s intermittent uplift and karstification since the Cenozoic. It is a superlative type-site of a karst table mountain.”

Heaven Pit: the World’s Largest Sinkhole

Heaven Pit and Ground Seam Scenic Spot (400 kilometers northeast of Chongqing, Coordinates: 108°53'-109°11' E / 31°30'-31°40' N) embraces 626-meter (2,054-foot) -long Xiaozhai Tiankeng, or Heavenly Pit, the largest tiankeng-type sinkhole in the world. A tiankeng is a type of very large collapse or sinkhole that has evolved by roof collapse over a large cave chamber where a huge mass of breakdown debris has been removed by a substantial cave river.

Heaven Pit and Ground Seam Scenic Spot was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in. 2001. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Xiaozhai Heaven Pit is actually a "heaven window" of the underground river on the lower reaches of this karst hydrogeological system, and is called karst tunnel. Xiaozhai Heaven Pit is close to the edge of the precipitous cliff on the right bank of deep-cut Daxi River. The elevation of the pit mouth is 1330 meters, and the elevation of the river bed in a shortest distance is 300 meters, the relative height difference between them exceeds 1000 meters. The measured data obtained by Wanxian hydrogeological team in 1984 indicate that the elevation of the highest and lowest points on the precipitous cliff at the heaven pit mouth is respectively 1331 meters and 1188 meters and there is an underground river flowing through the bottom of the heaven pit, with the elevation of 669m. It can be seen from this that the maximum and minimum depth of the Xiaozhai Heaven Pit is respectively 662 meters and 511m. In the vertical depth, Xiaozhai Heaven Pit is in double-layer structure, its upper part is a large elliptic pit, with the diameter of 537m-626 meters and depth of 320 meters, and its lower part is a vertical rectangle-like well, with the depth of 342 meters and mouth diameter of 357 meters in north-south and 268 meters in west-east, and at the pit bottom, there is a developed inclined slope. The total volume of the heaven pit is 119.348 mm3. Precipices stand on its all sides, just like they are cut by axe or knife. The pit is completely enclosed, if you stand at the pit bottom, you seem to look at the sky from the bottom of a well.

The Heaven Pit and Ground Seam Scenic Spot is a part of Qiyao Mountain range and the geodetic structure is located in the extension part of the upward and folded zone of Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan and Guizhou at the west edge of Wuyi Mountain-Xuefengshan Mountain folded zone in Neocathaysian structural system. The direction of structural line is NE-SW. It is a typical landform of shallow-medium cut platform peak-cluster depression. The emerged strata are the medium-thick strata in Jialingjiang formation of the lower series in Triassic system, with little thin limestone interbedding, and gradually ascended in three steps from southwest to northeast. The karst hydrogeological system of Xiaozhai Heaven Pit-Tianjingxia Ground Seamis composed of the wider valleys on its upper reaches, the gorges, water discharging holes and ground seam on its middle reaches and the underground river and heaven-window funnel on its lower reaches, the drainage area of the system is 230 square kilometers, the height difference between the head and the tail of the system is 1700 meters, and the whole length from the head to the tail of the system is about 37km. [Source: National Commission of the People's Republic of China., (natcomcn@public3.bta.net.cn)]

The wider valley section of the upper reaches is 7.5 kilometers long. Tongshuoba-Maochaoba Basin which was developed along the anticlinal axis is located on the peak-cluster depression in elevation of 1900-2000 meters, with the elevation at the valley bottom of 1710 meters and slope descent of 0.02. The section on the middle reaches is featured by gorges and is 13 kilometers long, the gorge is 100 meters-500 meters wide, with the cut depth of 200 meters-500 meters. This section is a section strongly affected by Shuoyuan erosion in the Quaternary period, with the slope descent of 0.04. The ground water flows into underground from several places one-odd kilometer from its lower section, water mainly flows into the black holes at the valley's bottom and always ends at these places in dry and normal-flow seasons. The compound valley section (its lower part is a screen-like valley) of Tianjingxia ground seam is 5.5 kilometers long and is a box-type valley with the width of its upper part of 200-400 meters and depth of 300 meters-400 meters, extending towards Chigucao dry valley with its bottom elevation of 1000 meters. The lower part is the "Tiangjingxia Ground Seam" with the width of top opening of 10 meters-30 meters and the width of seam bottom of 1m-15 meters. The depth is gradually added to 150 meters-229 meters and the width gradually gets to be narrower from its upper reaches to its lower reaches, finally, it becomes a "seam" and thus called Tianjingxia Ground Seam. The slope descent of the valley section of the ground seam is 0.07, it is the largest in this hydrogealogical system. The Tianjingxia valley, starting from the south end of Chigucao dry valley, changes into an underground river, which flows through the Xiaozhai heaven pit and ends at the outlet of Migonghe River, with total length of 7.026 kilometers and slope descent of 0.046, this is the section of lower reaches of this hydrogeological system. The width of the underground river cavern is mostly less than 15 meters, but its height is over 100 meters. The temperature in the cavern is lower than 10?, annual average flow rate is 8.77 m3/s and the maximum flowrate is 174m3/s. The outlet of the underground river is located on the precipice of Migonghe River, with the waterfall drop of 46m.

This scenic spot is in middle subtropical warm and moist southeast monsoon climate zone, and since it is affected by the terrain rise and the general configuration of the earth's surface, the vertical climate changes greatly, the main climate of mountains is distinct and the rainfall is abundant, which make the animals and plants in middle and north subtropical zones and middle temperate zone able to live and breed. It has been proved that in this scenic spot there are 224plant families with 1285 species, including the national Class I protected plant dawn redwood, 13 species of the national Class ? protected plants such as gingko, walnut, cucommia and so on,and 8 species of Class ? protected plants. The coverage rate of vegetation is up to 80 percent or more. There are the national Class I protected animal golden monky, 15 species of Class II Protected animals such as giant salamander, otter, zibet, clounded leopard, golden pheasant, Chinese pangolin and musk deer, and 14 species of Class III protected animals. Owing to the particular geography and land form, here live many unique wild animals, including the Yang fish and glass fish in the underground river, the white tadpoles in the hidden river of the ground seam, the white crickets in deep caverns and the rare flying squirrels in the caverns, etc.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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