Shanjuan Cave Scenic Area
Shanjuan Cave Scenic Area is situated on Luyan Mountain. It is twenty kilometers away from southwestern Yixing.
Shanjuan Cave, like France's Lyons, is considered mysterious in China. The cave is a famous limestone cave, the oddest of the "three odd caves" in the area (Shanjuan Cave, Zhanggong Cave and Linggu Cave).
The Scenic Area offers eco-tourism, Buddhist temples, entertainment, pottery and tea culture. The Scenic Area consists of a park in front of the Shanjuan Cave and the cave. The most extraordinary attractions are the Xia (Bottom) Cave that has and the Water Cave that is 120 meters long and big enough for people to ride on boats inside.
Inside Shanjuan Cave is a world of stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations. The place is illuminated by colored lighting. One of the caves in the cave complex is hundreds of meters in length, and the total area of the complex is thousands of square meters.
The cave complex consists of four levels called Shang (top), Xia (bottom), Zhong (middle) and Hou (back). These caves meet and make up several floors like a stone building. So the cave was called the "Stone House" during the Three Kingdoms Period. It has been visited since ancient times by renowned literati who wrote poems to chant for its magnificence and beauty.
When tourists enter the cave, they will first come into a large area. It is like a palace, and it has the name of Lion and Elephant Plaza. It is about 1000 square meters in area. It is a Chinese habit to give each rock formation or natural place a legendary or poetic name such as "Lion and Elephant Plaza". For this name, you need to use your imagination. There are two huge stones on each side. One sort of looks like a lion and the other one sort of looks like an elephant. The Lion and Elephant Plaza is big enough to admit thousands of people.
Like a shell, the Shang (Top) Cave has a length of 70 meters, a width of 30 meters and a height of 30 meters. It is bigger than the Middle Cave. Inside the cave, there is continual mist. The temperature stays constant at about 23 degrees Celsius or so. Therefore, the cave is also called "Warm Cave". On the cave's wall are rocks with different shapes like that of lotuses, plum floweres, sheep, and horses. Streams form a pool on which the milky stones on the cave roof are reflected.
The Xia (Down) Cave has a length of 180 meters, a width of 18 meters and a height of 22 meters. Outside the cave is an escarpment that is six meters high. When it rains heavily, a waterfall surges down to the cliff. So it is nicknamed Waterfall Cave.
The Hou (Back) Cave is connected to an ancient underground watery cave called "Water Cave". It is about 120 meters long, 4.5 meters deep and 6 meters wide.
Legend of the Butterfly Lovers
In the Shanjuan Cave Scenic Area and nearby, there are other places of interest. For example, at the foot of Luyan Mountain is an old village called Zhuling Village where a beautiful legend called Butterfly Lovers is said to have happened. In this legend, two lovers named Liang Shango and Zhu Yingtai (梁山伯与祝英台) meet during the Eastern Jin Dynasty.
Zhu Yingtai wanted to break traditions that restricted females from going to school. She convinced her father to allow her to disguise herself as a young man and travel to Hangzhou to attend classes in Zhuling Village. During her journey, she met Liang Shanbo who was another scholar. Zhu Yingtai fell in love with Liang Shanbo. The academy that it is said that they attended was recreated. Travelers can sit in the mock up.
On the mountain, several other attractions are under renovation or construction such as Yuantong Chamber, Baidou Terrace and Xiyu Pavilion. A traveler can take a 400 meter long cableway to reach the attractions.
How to go there
Travelers can take Tourist Bus No.1 to go there.