Now that there is much economic freedom in China, and millions of Chinese citizens are now able to afford travel, domestic tourism within China has become very big business; so popular, in fact, that very traditional attractions are being upgraded to off much more than simply the pleasure of merely visiting a revered attraction.
The town of Zhangjiajie, in Hunan Province, is situated in quite a spectacular mountainous region where there are many revered peaks. Just eight kilometres from the town is the Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area which has become a popular attraction for domestic tourists because of its great beauty, reputation as a sacred place, and a couple of new improvements which add the element of thrill to anyone who wishes to try out the new attractions.
Tianmen is known in China as Heavenly Mountain, and it is 4700 metres above sea level, and surrounded by spectacular peaks. The mountain itself is very steep and rugged, and there is a Buddhist temple perched on the peak, which many people attempt to reach.
Where once, pilgrims had to climb a perilous 11 kilometre path to the top, now they have the option of using one of its four `wonders’ to reach the summit, the Tianmen Mountain Cableway, which has the reputation for being the longest and steepest cable car trip in the world.
Tianmen mountain cable car starts in the city of Zhangjiajie and finishes at the Air Garden which is situated at the summit of Tianmen Mountain. The journey is 7.5kms long and has an incline of 1279 metres; one trip will take you 28 minutes to complete.
Whilst the cable car may be difficult for those who are scared of heights, it is an otherwise comfortable and very scenic ride. The newest attraction on the mountain can be terrifying to complete, simply because it takes participants right out of their comfort zones, particularly if they look down.
This is a glass-bottomed walkway which is also known as the Ghost Valley Glass Bridge, that edges its way around a sheer cliff face. Beneath the glass is a sheer drop of about 1500 metres. The glass is just 2.5 centimetres thick, and the walkway is just one metre wide. So as not to damage the glass, walkers are required to wear cloth slip-ons over their shoes. This glass bridge, as it is called, is about 60 metres in length and looks very fragile, which is why the mind fools walkers into thinking that it is such a perilous journey.
Tianmen Mountain is naturally spectacular, but the addition of these newer attractions add elements of adventure which make a visit to the mountain a must for those visiting Hunan Province.