The southwest Chinese province of Yunnan possesses something very unique which is undoubtedly the pride of the nation but also something which is very rarely found in the world over such a large area. It is a forest, but not any forest of trees and animals. This is a Stone Forest, you guessed it right, and the entire forest is made of stone as their shapes resembles ‘tree’ they are known as ‘Stone Trees.’
The stone forest China
The Shilin National Park is spread over a huge area of some 350 sq km. It is divided into seven scenic areas and they are Naigu Stone Forest, Lake Yuehu (meaning ‘Moon lake’), the waterfalls of “Da Dieshui”, Zhiyun Cave, Greater & Lesser Stone Forest, Qifeng Cave and Lake Changhu (meaning ‘Long lake’).
The Shilin or Stone Forest is located some 85 km southeast of the town of Kunming in the Yunnan province. This national park houses beautiful lakes, stone formations and caves and is very popular among tourists. It is believed that the Stone Forest is an astonishing 270 million years old. The year 2007 saw this historical place finding a place in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list.
The stone formations of the Forest reach a height of up to 30 m. The forest is pre-dominantly a made of karst formations and most of them seem to come out of the earth like stone trees. The entire landscape creates an illusion of being a stone forest as there are so many stone trees of different shapes and sizes. However, to some, the stone trees resemble the human faces rather than trees.
It is believed the karst landscape of the forest is a result of the mildly acidic rain water, which has picked up carbon dioxide and as a result has dissolved a considerable amount of soluble bedrock like limestone. The water washes out the existing rock fractures till the time they increase into larger openings leading to an underground drainage system.
Over a period of time, the stone has become hollow and as a result one finds amazing stone formations and caves in the area along with springs and sinkholes. With an area of over 350 sq km, the Stone Forest is one of the most spectacular examples of human tropical to sub-tropical karst landscapes found anywhere in the world. The forest is also considered a superlative natural phenomena and a world reference as it possesses a much wider range of pinnacle shapes than any other karst landscapes in the world with respect to diversity of shapes and changing colors.
The south China karst region is home to the Yi minority. It is believed that minority’s facts history starts in Stone Forest itself. The community celebrates the famous Torch Festival, featuring wrestling competitions and folk dances annually. The festival is celebrated around the 24th and 25th day of the sixth lunar month.
The Shilin National Park is a major tourist attraction among both domestic and foreign tourists. Bus tours of the place from Kunming are undertaken on a large scale. Also there are a number of hotels in the area for the tourists to stay. Hence, the Shilin area provides ample access to visitors.