The Underground Karst Landscape
Located on the northern bank of the Red River, Jian Shui can be found on the south of Yunnan. Renowned for its sugarcane production, this city was inhabited even during the Paleolithic period. This entire region is dotted with a huge resource of underground limestone caves that are so big that they can accommodate large mountains in their womb.
The underground karst landscape has been formed here because of thousands of years of soil erosion. Jian Shui offers some of the most diverse karst landscapes in China and is known to be the world museum of the karst formations in Asia.
The most famous karst cave in Yunnan region is the Swallow Cave, which is a double limestone cave. This cave is located about 30 kilometers east of Jian Shui and is spread over an area of 100,000 square meters. It is divided into three regions – a dry cave, a water cave and a 30,000 square meters natural forest.
The name of the Swallow Cave comes from that fact that each year thousands of swallows migrate here from Malaysia. They build nests and give birth to their young ones. The entire landscape is ideal for the swallows because the steep cliffs are perfect to keep away their predator enemies like the mice and snakes. The forest outside is home to several species of insects, which form a good food chain for the swallows.
The Tourist Track
Inside the Swallow Cave there is a tourist track, which is about 3000 meters long. This karst cave is divided into two parts – the upper cave and the lower cave. The upper cave is the dry cave while the lower part is the water cave. The water cave present inside the Swallow Cave has a breathtaking view.
The water from Lujiang River flows and splashes over the 50 meter high and 30 meter wide entrance of the water cave. This water cave has existed for over three million years. Because of the consistent and constant water flow various sized stalactites have sprung up. Some of these stalactites are over 50 meter high. The dry cave is huge. It can contain up to 1,000 people. One can watch some local performances here.
Ancient Alu Caves
Located about 200 kilometers away from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, you can spot a scenic area of 54 kilometers that comprises of three parts – the Anciant Alu Caves, Dailu Waterfall and Banqiaohe Reservoir. Also known as the “First Caves in Yunnan”, the Ancient Alu Caves are the largest underground karst caves in this cluster. These caves used to serve as dwellings for the ancient tribe “Alu” during the Nanzhao Period. This cave is spread in a n area of 3 kilometers and has three dry caves and one water cave.
The dry caves are the Luyuan Cave, the Yuzhu Cave and the Biyu Cave. The water cave is known as the Yusun Stream. The stalactites in the cave are simply amazing. Some of them look like flowers and pearls while some like waterfalls and peaks. The Yuzhu Cave has most of the stalactites and stalagmites. The Yusun Stream flows beneath the Yuzhu Cave. This is an underground cave where tourist can go for sightseeing on a boat. The length of the stream is 800 meters and one can clearly view the bottom. The stream is home to “the blind fish”, which is a rare type of fish. It is transparent and you can actually see its bones.