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Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area

The Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area is situated in the Minshan Mountains, 400 kilometers from downtown Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Jiuzhaigou is famous for its rolling mountains, dense forests, colorful lakes, steep waterfalls, and wide variety of birds and animals.

The Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area covers an area of 600 square kilometers. The name “Jiuzhaigou” means the Ravine of Nine Villages, and the area was so named because there were nine Tibetan villages there. More than half of the scenic area is covered by virgin forests with bamboo, flowers, and such animals as giant pandas, golden monkeys, and white-lipped deer. The main valley is 50 kilometers long and consists of Shuzheng Qunhai, Rize, and Zechawa valleys coming together in the shape of a Y. Waterfalls and streams link 108 lakes of varied sizes.

Jiuzhaigou, with its many lakes, is enchanting. According to legend, the goddess Wonosmo dropped a mystical mirror, a gift of love from the god Dag, and the broken pieces became the 108 lakes.

According to science, the lakes were formed because of the calcium carbonate in the flowing water when the earth was in the cold, interglacial stage and the little ice age. The calcium carbonate could not coagulate but flowed with the water. More than 12,000 years ago, the global climate became warmer, and the calcium carbonate became active and attached itself to obstacles in the water. As time passed, the attached matter became thicker, forming the milky white banks of barrier lakes.

According to legend, the colorful lakes in Zechawa Valley are the Jasper Lakes of the Queen Mother of the West. Some of them are blue and green, others are brown, dark gray, and purple. According to a local saying, the lake water is colored by the cosmetics of fairy maidens, but people today say it has something to do with the aquatic plants in the lakes.

The view of Five-Flower Lake in Rize Valley is majestic. Looking down from the mountain, one can see the lake hemmed in on three sides by mountains. The lake looks like a big gourd pouring colorful water endlessly. At the bottom of the lake, there are small, dark-green plum-shaped spots, and in the middle of the gourd is a light-blue figure 10 meters long, shaped like the leg of a sika deer. It is said that when the Mountain God appeared in the mountain, a frightened sika seer lost a leg, which dropped into the lake.

The tranquility of the colorful mountain lakes is broken by the many roaring waterfalls downstream. The Nuorilang Waterfall at the end of the Shuzheng Qunhai Valley emerges from among willow trees, which seem to comb the 100-meter-wide falls into strands of crystal hair.

The most magnificent waterfall in Jiuzhaigou is the Pearl Beach Waterfall in the Rize Valley, roaring down from a sheer cliff, and flying about in all directions. The drops of water reflected in the sunlight glisten like colorful pearls.

At the end of the Zechawa Valley is Changhai (Long Lake), discovered in the 1970s by lumberjacks. It is the largest lake in Jiuzhaigou. With an elevation of 3,000 meters, the Changhai area is covered by snow all year round. Those who have visited the lake say that it is especially pleasant to boat on the lake in summer. In spring the lake mirrors the flowers on the snow-capped mountains. In autumn it mirrors the red and gold maple leaves. In winter, it is covered with ice.

Walking in Jiuzhaigou, the visitor feasts his eyes on beauty everywhere, and it is hard to resist an occasional sigh. “Walking in Jiuzhaigou,” said one visitor, “it seems as if one were walking in a picture.”

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