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Elephant Trunk Hill

Guilin, China

China has some of the most wonderous karst landscaping and river-side views. And you can catch a good many of these in Guilin of the Guangxi region. The most iconic one being the Elephant Trunk Hill (locally Xiangbishan), which is probably what pops in mind when the name Guilin comes up since the sight is the face of the city’s tourism material.

Xiangbishan is exactly as the name describes it; a hill, crafted by nature in the likeness of an elephant that is getting its fill of water from the Li river below. There are many legends associated with how the elephant came to be but what everyone knows as fact is that the place is a beauty. You can catch comprehensive views from a cruise along the famous Li river (another amazing experience) or from Xiangshan Park. Buses 23, 16 and 2 will take you right to the park’s entrance, as do the sight-seeing buses. There is an entry ticket for RMB55 (kids under 3.9 feet go free) and the place closes at 21:30 throughout the year. However, opening times differ in summer and winter; in the former, entry is from 06:30 while winter times are from 07:00.

The eponymous hill obviously takes center stage, when visiting the park. But that isn’t all there is to it. Around the attraction, there are some very picturesque small baby elephants show playing in the river and they juxtapose the large hill elephant splendidly. Taking a bamboo raft, that are available for hire along the shore, on to the river and getting a distance shot of the Elephant will be well worth the effort
The hollow under the hill, between the body and the trunk, a sort of cave is called Water Moon because the perfectly circular shape lends the impression that the moon has descended in to the Li river.

As you run your sights above the elephant, you will find another thing of interest on its back. This is the Puxian pagoda. This solid brick construction dates to the Ming era and is built in a Tibetan style to worship Puxian bodhisattva, of the four great bodhisattvas. Puxian on top of an elephant is considered and sign of peace and happiness. Another sight close to the top is the Elephant Eye cave, which is a short passageway with a grand view on either ends. At the south, you will see the town and its hustle bustle, while on the north, you will be stunned by the magnificence of the river and the towering mountains.

Dagoba, another pagoda, and Yunfeng temple are also good for a quick visit for their aesthetic and historical value. A short trip to Love island, adjoined by a cute stone bridge, is as romantic as it is peaceful.

Though the morning and night views have their own pros, the marked advantage of coming in the evening is the night show they put on against the hill. The projected, 4-part movie regales visitors with a delightful tale.

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