The First Mound Under The Heaven

Also known as Taolaihe Mound, the First Mound under the Heaven, built by the Gansu patrol commander, Li Han, in the 18th year (1539) of Emperor Jiajing’s reign of the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644), stands on the 56-meter (184 feet) tall cliff by the Taolaihe River, watching the Qilian Mountain across the Taolaihe River. The First Mound under the Heaven was initially 14 meters (46 feet) long, 14 meters (46 feet) wide and 14 meters (46 feet) tall, some parts of which have collapsed owing to exposure to the weather, with only a mound left today.

Highlights of the First Mound under the Heaven


As many as the stars, the mounds are distributed along the dragon-like Great Wall, of which the First Mound under the Heaven at Jiayuguan Pass and the Laolongtou Mound at Shanhaiguan Pass serve as the head and tail of the dragon.The First Mound under the Heaven is six meters (20 feet) long, six meters (20 feet) wide and 10 meters (33 feet) tallnow, constructed by stamping the earth, and the stele of “the First Mound of the Great Wall” was written by Wei Chuan, a former general of the Xilu Army. Standing on the top of the First Mound under the Heaven offers visitors a panoramic view of Jiayuguan Pass.

Based on the First Mound under the Heaven, the First Mound of the Great Wall Scenic Area has been developed in recent years, which neighbors Jiayuguan City to the east, the vast rocky desert to the west, the magnificent Jiayuguan Pass to the north and the graceful curves of the Qilian Mountains to the south, with the Taolaihe River running at its foot.

Themed on the Great Wall culture and the Silk Road culture, the First Mound of the Great Wall Scenic Area has become a wonderful place with sightseeing, adventures, recreation and entertainment.

Background Information of the First Mound under the Heaven

Thirty-nine mounds of various sizes were distributed near Jiayuguan Pass, of which Taolaihe Mound, once stationed by soldiers, was a large mound, and it bore the responsibility of passing military information to the other mounds and beacon towers. For example, the soldiers stationed on the Great Wall would create smoke in the daytime and light a fire at night to warn their troops that intruders approached,during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC)and the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644). In addition, the First Mound under the Heaven was an important part of the Jiayuguan military defense system, which was also a strong deterrent to intruders in ancient times owing to its steepness and magnificence.

Travel Essentials

  • Location:south of Taolaihe River, 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) from Jiayuguan City, Gansu Province
  • Transportation: a direct sightseeing bus will take you there from Jiayuguan Bus Station
  • Opening times:8:30 am to 8:00 pm in summer and autumn; 8:30 am to 6:00 pm in winter and spring.

Questions and Answers About The First Mound Under The Heaven

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Hi, I'm Michael Yang
I updated this article on January 2, 2014
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