Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

Updated: 2014-12-11 15:45

By Xu Lin(China Daily USA)

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For those who want a quick getaway from the hustle-and-bustle of Beijing, Shilinxia Scenic Area in Pinggu district is certainly a good choice. It is picturesque, with rocks, gorges, mountains and forests.

Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

Shilinxia, which literally means

the Gorge of Stone Forest, is named after its straight and steep mountains that resemble a stone forest. It's about 100 kilometers from downtown Beijing. Immerse yourself in the natural landscape and take in the fresh air. You will enjoy peace and tranquility that you can hardly find in a metropolis.

Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

At the foot of the Shilin mountain

is the Huangsongyu Reservoir, where you can go fishing and take a walk on the banks. You can try some farm dishes at the local restaurants such as roasted lamb leg, roasted fish, fresh vegetables and homemade tofu.

Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

You can play some water sports

such as driftage and bumper boats on the Shilin River. You can have fun crossing several special bridges on the river, maintaining your balance on their wonky boards. Watch out, or you may fall into the water.

Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

It's pleasant to start your

adventure at the valley and walk on a zigzagging road that passes through streams and pools. Since it's autumn, you will see many persimmon trees with ripe fruit and red leaves on the mountain. It feels like that you're in a beautiful landscape painting done by a master.

When you come to the Qixia Pool, you will see a sculpture of a pretty young Chinese woman, Xiagu. Legend has it that Xiagu lived here a long time ago and used to wash clothes at the pool. Her husband, Sanlang, was drafted into the army to resist a foreign invasion. One day, a flood dragon came to Shilinxia and imprisoned her because the dragon was drawn to her beauty.

Xiagu didn't surrender and killed herself by banging her head on a giant rock. Upon hearing the grievous news, Sanlang came back and slew the dragon with the help of an arhat, a "perfected person" who has achieved nirvana in Buddhist tradition. The arhat helped Xiagu and Sanlang become immortal and the couple stayed at Shilinxia to protect the local residents from then on.

Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

While you're among the vegetation, shadows and cliffs, you will notice that some mountain roads are bright and broad, and some are narrow and secluded.

Sceneries differ when you walk. When you're on the mountainside, you will see clearly the magnificent stone forest, which is partly hidden and partly visible when you're down in the valley.

The stones there are of various shapes and look different from one another when you get close. Some are like giant pens or bamboo soaring into the sky, some resemble long lances and some look like wild lions, graceful ladies and mischievous monkeys. As you go deeper into the mountain, you will see the Jiutian Waterfall, or the Nine Sky Waterfall, a rare geologic form that is divided into four parts by rocks, with a total drop of about 120 meters.

You can hear the water splash when it tumbles into the stream and beats against the rocks. When you ascend the stone stairs nearby, you will see the second part of the waterfall. The third and fourth parts are hidden, and you will see the magnificent scenery only if you climb to the top.

Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

When you reach the 768-meter-high

summit of the Shilin Mountain, you will see three enormous bronze musical instruments in three traditional Chinese-style pavilions.

They are: a gong that is about 2 meters in diameter; five chime bells of different sizes; and a drum that is 90 centimeters in diameter. It took one month for 40 people to transport the 400-kg drum from the bottom to the top of the mountain.

You can strike the gong, hit the chime bells and beat the drum to celebrate the ascent, enjoy the music and have a rest in the pavilions. You will have a bird's-eye view of the mountain with different shapes of peaks draped in fall color.

After enjoying a picnic and a pretty sunset in the pavilions, you may go down the mountain either by foot or by cable car.

 Shilinxia offers a scenic escape from busy Beijing

Shilinxia boasts a scenery of rocks, gorges, water, mountains and forests. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily USA 12/11/2014 page10)