A jade green mountain under blue sky with tiny habitat down below is a holiday spot we all love. This description fit to a T for Tianmen Mountain, in the Hunan province.
Located ten kilometers south of Zhangjiajie City, this place is not a part of Zhangjiajie National Park, and if you wish to reach there, you need to hire a cab from Zhangjiajie City or Zhangjiajie airport.
Most people prefer to club this route with Zhangjiajie trip, and so did we. The sky was cloudy when we reached Tianmen town and chose to go up in the cable car and the bus to come down. (Our tip, you can choose transports up and down the mountain, but remember you can avail one thing once). We reached the ropeway entrance around 7:30 in the morning to find the queue long enough to wait for more than an hour. It was an exciting 20-minutes journey in the ropeway. We had a bird’s eye view of the spiraling road up the green mountain with clouds shawled at tips. The houses below looked like matchboxes and the buses nothing more than a Lego toy. The seven kilometers long route having 37-degrees ascent at places was indeed thrilling. Reaching the top, we chalked our way around the hill. There are two routes around the mountain. (Our tip, it is always advisable to make use of the map and identify the places you wish to visit). Our target was simple; we wanted to capture the best views in less time as we had to leave the same day. The morning was cloudy so we were afraid whether we would get a good view but soon our prayers were answered, and it started to clear.
The west line is comparatively shorter and quicker to reach the top, and we also wanted to walk on the newly opened Coiling Dragon Cliff, the third glass skywalk overlooking Tongtian Avenue at Tianmen Shan.
The Glass Walk
On a non-touristy day, the famous glass walk was still crowded. We were handed shoe covers to put on our shoes to walk on the glass path. Unfortunately, it did not give the adrenalin rush, which we were expecting. Too many people spoiled the fun. The glass below barely gave a clear view of the cliff below, as it had become translucent and we were struggling to get a glimpse in between other’s feet. However, there were still few tourists crying and shrieking to walk on it.
Tianmen Mountain Temple
Next, we walked through forests and cliff side paths for about an hour to reach the Cherry Village where we grabbed some food at a restaurant. Acquiring some energy, we walked to Tianmen Mountain Temple. Built during the Tang Dynasty the temple was serene and calm. Colorful walls and paintings made a beautiful spectacle. The tall Buddha statue in the main chamber reminded us of our mortal existence. Next stop on our map was the Fairy Top.
An open ropeway runs from Mountain temple to Fairy Top. It is just an iron chair without any cover. The clouds engulfed us, as our chair car started moving. By the time, we reached the other end it had begun raining heavily. Apparently, we thought we would not enjoy any view from the top but the weather God seemed pleased with us and in 15 minutes, the rain stopped making the hills greener, and the sky clear. Without wasting time, we climbed up the observatory. The wind was strong and noisy at that height; our caps were almost blown away. The moving clouds sometimes hid the sun casting darker shadows on the mountains. Soon the sun peeped out gloriously making the surrounding brighter and cheerful. After enjoying the cool breeze and clicking lots of pictures we took the elevator to go out of the observatory. We walked down to the escalator that would lead us to the entrance of the famous Tianmen Cave.
Tianmen Cave and the road down the mountains
Known as “Heaven’s Gate,” it is an enormous natural hole between two mountains creating a giant passage with 999 steps going down to the bus station below. Now there is a set of an escalator, which makes it easier. The site is amusing and is said to be formed through soil erosion many, many, many years ago. (Maybe, when the transformers had come; Transformers: The Age of Extinction had scenes shot at this backdrop). We also came to know that it had been the venue for the first and second World Wingsuit Championships. Around 4:30 in the evening, we said goodbye to this beautiful place and hopped on to the bus. Our bus drove down the serpentine road with 99 bends presenting a spectacular view of the Tianmen Mountain. In another 30 minutes, we reached our hotel just opposite to Tianmen Cable Car station to collect our luggage to take the evening flight back home.
How to go from Beijing
Flight to Zhangjiajie Airport and then a taxi to Tianmen Town; taxi fare would be well within ¥50 depending where your hotel is. Plenty of hotels are available on C-Trip as per your budget. Food available is again local Chinese food.
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