Photo Essay

The Reed Flute Cave: China´s refuge of the Dragon King's magic needle.

The cave simphony in blue

The Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is an amazing cavern located five kilometres Northwest of the downtown of Guilin, on the southern shoulder of the Guangming Hill (Bright Hill), in China. It is in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The cave got its name from the verdant reeds growing outside it, with which people make flutes and pipes; but according to a legend, The Reed Flute Cave got its name because people believed that the reed by the cave's mouth could be made into flutes.

Once you get inside the cave, you are presented with an amazing display of colours and shapes that makes your imagination watch shapes such as Pines in the Snow, Mushroom Hills, A Dragon Pagoda, Sky-Scraping Twins, Virgin Forests , A Red Curtain, etc. The cave is about 240 meters long and it was formed 600,000 years ago by a cave river. The stalagmites in the cave are generally longer than the corresponding stalactites, and can reach more than 10 meters, which suggests quicker speed of dripping water.

According to the legend, the stone pillar in the grotto is the Dragon King's magic needle, used as a weapon by the Monkey King in the popular Chinese fable and novel "Journey to the West." People started visiting the caves in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the cave used to be a war refuge during World War II. The grass covered the entrance to the cave, so the people of the area used this cave for many centuries as a hideout.

During the Sino-Japanese War, Guilin became a refuge for thousands of nationalities and intellectuals, and the cave served as refuge for some of them. Printing plants, newspapers, hospitals, and even theatrical companies took refuge in the karst caves (the location of some of these caves was not rediscovered until the late 1950s). The cave was opened to the public in 1962 and it is so spectacular that it has been named "The Palace of Natural Arts".

This is a selection of 10 of my favourite pictures of my travel to the Guilin region an the first story in a series of writings about China. Enjoy.

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