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Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area (Sichuan Province)

Updated: 2012-11-14 19:54

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. It is the largest lake in Jiuzhaigou. With an elevation of 3,000 m, the Changhai area is covered in snow all year round. 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.

Flora and Fauna

More than half of the scenic area is covered in virgin forests, with bamboos, flowers, and is home to such rare animals as giant pandas, golden monkeys and white-lipped deer.

Among over 500 categories of seed plant, there are about 92 full species special for their rarity, endemicity, or their ornamental or medicinal use, including 15 species of rhododendron, found between 2,000 and 4,000m, and also two species of bamboo which are important food for giant pandas.

Historic and Cultural Value

The name Jiuzhaigou means the Ravine with Nine Villages, and the area was so named because there were originally nine Tibetan villages there. The local Tibetan population maintain cultural traditions.

The numerous lakes in Jiuzhaigou Valley have evoked religious feelings in the local residents and given rise to many enchanting folktales. According to legend, the goddess Wonosmo dropped a mystical mirror, a gift of love from the god Dag here, and the broken pieces became the 108 lakes. The colorful lakes in Zechawa Valley are said to be the Jasper Lakes of the Queen Mother of the West. According to a local saying, the lake water was colored by the cosmetics of fairy maidens, although it is more likely something to do with the aquatic plants in the lakes. Legends and more recent stories abound concerning the existence of monsters in various lakes, notably Changhai (Long Lake), Jianzhuhai (Arrow-Bamboo Lake) and Nuorilang Lakes. One of these lakes, Wolonghai or Dragon Lake, has a calcareous dyke running through it clearly visible below the water surface, which, in local folklore, has been compared to a dragon lying on the bottom. These stories are a further attraction to tourists and have received some scientific interest.

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