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Holidays : China: Sichuan : Chengdu Attractions : Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

It is said that if there should be wonderlands on the earth, Jiuzhaigou Valley must be one of them. There is no equal elsewhere that has sceneries and fables of dreamlike eloquence, or natural purities like a fairyland as Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Jiuzhaigou Valley is located in Nanping County, 450 kilometers (about 280 miles) to the north of Chengdu City. Its name is due to the existence of nine stockaded villages of Tibetan origin, and it is always regarded as a holy mountain and watercourse by the Tibetan people.

Jiuzhaigou Valley is a great masterpiece of nature having dreamlike scenery and abundant natural resources. It combines blue lakes, waterfalls, verdant forests, snow-covered mountains, and the folk customs of the Tibetan and Qiang peoples.

This region covers more than 600 square kilometers (about 230 square miles), and includes areas such as Shuzheng Valley, Rize Valley, Zechawa Valley and Zharu Valley, etc. The main beauty spots such as calc-sinter lake groups, waterfalls, and other waterscapes, as well as 12 summits make Jiuzhaigou Valley a wonderful appearance.

Legend has it; that long, long ago the deity of mountain named Dago had a crush on the goddess Semo, and he gave a mirror that was made from wind and cloud to the goddess. However, the devil appeared and made trouble to Semo. Inadvertently, Semo broke the mirror into 108 pieces, which fell down to the earth and then turned to 108 colorful lakes. The lake is also called Haizi by local people.

Shuzheng Valley

Shuzheng Valley is a main tourist route of Jiuzhaigou Valley. It is about 14 kilometers (about nine miles) in length with over 40 lakes, representing 40% of all the lakes in Jiuzhaigou. The major scenic spots in Shuzheng Valley are Double-Dragon Lake, Bonsai Beach, Reed Lake, Spark Lake, Tiger Lake, Shuzheng Waterfall, Rhinoceros Lake, and Nuorilang Waterfall, etc.

Double-Dragon Lake (Shuanglong Lake)
Double-Dragon Lake lies below Spark Lake Waterfall, and it got its name from the two zonary calc-sinter reefs hidden in the bottom of the lake, which are just like two dragons. It is said that in ancient times, two evil dragons always brought disasters by making hailstones or rainstorms to the Tibetan people in Jiuzhaigou Valley. Afterwards, they were faced down by King Gesar (a figure in a Tibetan hero epic) and were locked with chains in the lake. From then on, the lake was peaceful and tranquil. Now there are many beautiful swans and mandarin ducks inhabiting the lake. Sometimes, you can appreciate the sight of wild duck groups roaming in the lake and swans flying in the sky above, and this really adds more pleasure to your visits.

Reed Lake (Luwei Lake)
Reed Lake is 2,140 meters (about 7,021 feet) above the sea level and is 22 kilometers (about 14 miles) in length. There are reeds grow thickly in the lake. Clear streams wind through the reeds and aquatic birds fly above the lake. In spring and summer, the water is as verdurous as flourishing reeds, overflowing with vigor. In autumn and winter, golden reeds greet the eye everywhere. While during the florescence season, downy reed catkins joggle tenderly in the breeze, just like water waves. Egrets and widgeons sport in groups on the lake, presenting picturesque views.

Spark Lake (Huohua Lake)
Spark Lake is located between Double-Dragon Lake and Lying Dragon Lake. It is nine meters (about 30 feet) deep, and covers an area of 36,352 square meters (about 43,477 square yards). The azure and wide lake is hidden by surrounding luxuriant woods, like a glittering emerald plate or a jade mirror. When the first sunrays of dawn shine on the surface of the lake, the crystalline waters waves ripple, ring upon ring, resembling millions of burning and dancing sparks. In summer, bouquets of wild flowers with dewdrops glisten on the lakesides, making a phantasm with ‘sparks' in the lake; and the whole vista is totally ablaze with color.

Rhinoceros Lake (Xiniu Lake)
Rhinoceros Lake is the largest lake in Shuzheng Valley. The story goes that in olden days, a lama came here on a rhinoceros. He was seriously ill and was on the verge of death. After he drank some water of the lake, he recovered unexpectedly! Then the lama drank the lake water day and night and was reluctant to leave. Therefore, he came into the lake riding on the rhinoceros and dwelled in the lake forever. That is why the lake is called Rhinoceros Lake. It is one of the most changeable lakes in Jiuzhaigou Valley. Every morning the inverted images of clouds and mists are of enchanting beauty and people just cannot distinguish the sky from the lake. To the south of Rhinoceros Lake is a bridge where you can take in the beautiful scenery. To the north of the lake visitors can view Semo Mountain. Rhinoceros Lake is the only site that provides yachts for tourists to enjoy themselves, both for sport, sightseeing and life's simple pleasures.

Tiger Lake (Laohu Lake)
Tiger Lake, lying further up towards Shuzheng Waterfall, is 2,298 meters (about 7,539 feet) above the sea level. It is peaceful and tranquil, yet the vigor and enthusiasm cannot be hidden in the silence. The rushing water that is like falling snow of Shuzheng Waterfall is just too reminiscent of the lake's burst. There are three sayings concerning the source of its name. One is that the sound of Shuzheng Waterfall is as the tigers' roaring; the second is that in late autumn, the reflections of Five-Colored Pond forests shine upon the lake which look like the lines of tigers; the third saying is that the tigers in the mountain are fond of this lake and used to drinking the water of the lake.

Shuzheng Village
Shuzheng Village offers one of the main accommodation centers in Jiuzhaigou Valley. In front of the village stands a golden dagoba where the Tibetans worship Buddha and incant observances. Hotels of Tibetan style and Prayer Flags can be found all over the village. Meanwhile, you can get a good view of Shuzheng Lake Cluster whilst looking down upon the village.

Shuzheng Waterfall
Shuzheng Waterfall is the first waterfall you will encounter in the valley. It is 62 meters (about 203 feet) wide and 15 meters (about 49 feet) tall. Though it is the smallest of the four main waterfalls in Jiuzhaigou Valley, it will bring heart quakes to first time visitors. The green forests surround nineteen lakes of different sizes and levels. The lake water in the upper reaches flows slowly along the shoal and is divided into countless streams by the groves in the lake. Then the streams join on the top of Shuzheng Waterfall and suddenly drop down to the lower lakes. The sprays fly in the air, creating an elegant screen.

Nuorilang Waterfall
Nuorilang Waterfall is 32 meters (about 105 feet) wide and 25 meters (about 82 feet) tall, and it is the widest waterfall in Jiuzhaigou Valley. Nuorilang means 'grand and magnificent' in Tibetan, so it is a gorgeous waterfall. The top of the waterfall is very flat. It is said that originally there was no waterfall but a platform here long ago. Then a monk brought a spinning wheel when he returned to this place. A Tibetan girl learnt the skill of spinning very soon, so she carried the wheel to the platform and showed her sisters how to spin. The cruel man Roza considered that she was doing something evil and kicked her, as well as the spinning wheel off the cliff. In no time, torrents rushed Roza and his accomplices down the mountain, so the platform had turned into the waterfall. When the sun shines in the morning, flowery rainbows can be seen in the sky, which make the waterfall more charming and splendid.

Walking south forward from the Nuorilang Waterfall, Jiuzhaigou Valley is divided into two main routes: to the due south is Zechawa Valley and to the southwest is Rize Valley.

Rize Valley

Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake, wrapped by forests, is a narrow and long lake about 1,000 meters (1,094 yards) in length. The mountain on the opposite side is like a huge stone screen. On the right is the lower reach of Mirror Lake, abutting the Nuorilang Lake Cluster and on the left is the upper reach that joins the Mirror Lake Valley. In the rosy dawns, the lake is as smooth as a mirror and blue sky, white clouds, the mountains far away and trees nearby can all be seen reflected in the lake. What is more wonderful is that you can see the conjured images that the fish are swimming in the sky and the birds are flying in the lake! Near the lake there is a tree reaching the sky, which is tightly twisted by a long vine, just like two sweet lovers. Therefore, people gave Mirror Lake another romantic name, Love Park.

Peacock River
Peacock River is 310 meters (about 1,017 feet) in length and wends along the deep valley with flowers and trees on its two sides. The water appears in a cacophony of varietous colors: dark green, golden, and sapphire blue. When autumn comes, the forests are covered with hoarfrosts and the fallen leaves are bestrewed all over the lake. When seen from above, the bright and clear water flows in a colorful world and it is like a peacock displaying its fine tail feathers.

Five-Flower Lake (Wuhua Lake)
The pride of Jiuzhaigou Valley, Five-Flower Lake lies at the end of the upper reach of Peacock River, 2,472 meters (about 8,110 feet) above the sea level and five meters (about 16 feet) in depth. Most of the colorful leaves are gathered in the lakefront and interlaced as brocades. The water that contains calcium carbonate as well as hydrophytes with different colors presents a versicolor sight, azure blue, blackish green and light yellow, etc, so it is named Five-Flower Lake. The local people say that it is a holy lake, and where there is the water, there must be flourishing flowers and trees. When looking down from the mountain, you will find that the lake with hills on three sides is just like a huge upended cucurbit pouring colorful water to the lower place.

Peculiarly, there is a pattern of a deer's leg in the abdomen of the cucurbit, 10 meters (about 33 feet) or so. The whole pattern is light green, while the middle part presents dark green due to the quincunx-shaped pits of the terrain of the lake bed. So the pattern is really like a spotted deer. The legend said that the deity of all mountains hurt the holy deer that belonged to the King of Forest by mistake when he was seeking for water source in the mountain. The King of Forest was so furious that he chased the deity on the holy deer and wanted to kill him. Other deities cut off one leg of the deer in order to help the deity of all mountains. Then the holy deer fell down and became the colorful lake.

Panda Lake (Xiongmao Lake)
Pandas are regarded as lucky and endearing animals. It is said that pandas in Jiuzhaigou Valley like to drink water and play in this lake, so the lake is called Panda Lake. It is 2,587 meters (about 8,488 feet) above sea level and 14 meters (about 46 meters) in depth. The water is clear and transparent. Especially on fine days, the blue sky and white cloud are mirrored in the lake. There are inverted images of cliffs with strange textures in the lakesides and the white stones with black lines in the lake, all of them have made the Panda Lake an interesting and beautiful place.

Virgin Forest
About 52% area of Jiuzhaigou Valley is covered by virgin forest and the forest at the top of Rize Valley is part of it. Seeing the luxuriantly green trees, walking on thick and soft lichens, smelling the fragrant and moist air, and listening to the sound of wind and bird-song you will find that you are coming into a new isolated world. In the lower part of the south of mountains, Chinese pines, oaks and spruces grow thickly and in the north Chinese hemlocks, maples, birches and fir trees are flourishing. In the upper part of mountains are alpine shrubs and alpine meadows.

Zechawa Valley

Zechawa Valley, 18 kilometers (about 11 miles) in length, is the longest and highest route in Jiuzhaigou.

Magic Mirror Cliff (Baojing Cliff)
Magic Mirror Cliff, 400 meters (about 1,312 feet) in height, lies at the mouth of Zharu Valley and stands facing the lakes. The surface of the cliff is rather even and it looks like a great mirror when seen from distance. It is said that the precious mirror was founded by the master of the mountain to suppress a devil who killed people cruelly. Therefore the cliff is also named Devil Cliff.

Seasonal Lakes
There are Lower Seasonal Lake and Upper Seasonal Lake in Zechawa Valley. Lower Seasonal Lake is near Zechawa Village and has a grove of birches at the lakeside. Strawberries and other wild fruits can be found in the grove. The upper Seasonal Lake is next to Five-Colored Pond surrounded by cliffs. All the lakes have plenty of blue water due to the ample rainfall in autumn and are at a low level of green color water in spring and winter. While in the early summer, the water dries up and turns into grassland as lots of grasses grow in the riverbeds.

Five-Colored Pond (Wucai Pond)
The old Chinese legend said that there was a colorful lake, Jasper Lake, in the palace of the Queen Mother of the West. However, nobody has seen it with his own eyes. In Jiuzhaigou Valley you can truly appreciate the colorful lake, which is the small but exquisite Five-Colored Pond in Zechawa Valley. The lake is 6.6 meters (about 21.7 feet) deep, 2,995 meters (about 9,826 feet) above the sea level and occupies an area of 5,645 square meters (about 6,751 square yards). On sunny days, the lake present various colors when the lake ripples, shining with red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and purple light, as if you are in a dreamland.

Long Lake (Chang Lake)
The largest lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley, Long Lake, is located at the end of Zechawa Valley, covering an area of 930,000 square meters (about 230 acres). The source of Long Lake is melted snow from the mountains. Cedars all over the mountain encircle the lake. When looked at from afar, the lake is bathed in the sunshine, like the jade palace in the heaven. At the side of the lake there is an old tree, which is said to be the guardian of the lake. In winter, the lake is frozen 60 centimeters (about 24 inches) on the surface and is an ideal place for skating.

Shuzheng Valley, Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley are three main valleys in Jiuzhaigou, but the sceneries are far more than mentioned above. There are Panda Lake Waterfall that has the longest drop in Jiuzhaigou Valley and freezes to a crystal world in winter, the giant calc-sinter beach Pearl Beach, the Arrow Bamboo Lake that has a large area of bamboo, the favorite food of pandas, and Swan Lake where swans inhabit ... to name just a few. Only if you are personally present can you truly appreciate just how splendid the sights of Jiuzhaigou Valley are.

In addition to the dreamlike sceneries, there are numerous flora and fauna in Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area. The natural forest covers an area of nearly 30,000 hectares (about 74,132 acres), including 2,576 higher plant species (24 species of national protected plants) and over 400 lower plant species (212 species of algae). The diversity of flora has provided a good environment for wild animals. There are 170 species of vertebrates, 141 species of birds and 17 species of rare animals. Among them the first rank has giant pandas, takins and golden monkeys and the second rank has lesser pandas, marmots, and blue sheep.

Fees: Peak Season (Apr.1st-Nov. 15th) Admission Fee CNY 220
Sightseeing Bus CNY 90
Low Season (Nov.16th-Mar. 31st) Admission Fee CNY 80
Sightseeing Bus CNY 80
Opening Hours: Peak Season: 07:00-19:00; Low Season: 08:00-18:00

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