Seven-Star Rocks

Some 118 kilometers west of Guangzhou (Canton) lies one of the most famous scenic spots in Guangdong (Kwangtung), the southernmost province of China. This is Seven-Star Rocks, seven rocky peaks standing in the formation of the Big Dipper. Legend has it that these rocks are seven stars that fell to earth long, long ago. But geologists say they are limestone karst formations which aeons of water erosion have sculptured in many fantastic caverns, stalactites and stalagmites, peculiar stone pillars and subterranean rivers.

The main entrance to the park area is a grand arch gate which bears the inscription “Seven-star Rocks” ‘in the calligraphy of Zhu De, one of the great revolutionary leaders who helped found the People’s Republic of China. Passing under the arch one sees a big lake ahead, interlaced with causeways and stub ded with red arched bridges. Nestling among the flowers one trees are some forty pavilions and halls with pointed roofs and upturned eaves. To the right of main causeway are two swimming pools, to the left an on- the-lake restaurant. Available here is a special beverage made from local herbs. People in color, it has a sour tang and unique aroma.

At the end of the main causeway is a strip of water across which is seven-star Rocks. Each rocky hill has a name.

At one end is “Langfeng Peak”, its slopes covered with pines and cypresses and many kinds of fruits trees. The rock has many caverns. During spring and summer days, when the caves flood over water dripping from the cave ceilings produces melodious music as it touches the stream.

The neighboring hill seen from a distance resembles a big Screen, hence the name “Yuping(Jade Screen)Peak’’. Stone steps lead all the way to the top. At the half-way point is a Rock 2.6 meters long and one meter thick jutting one meter above the ground beside the steps. Called the‘‘Music Box”, it pro duces different notes of the scalewhen struck with a stone at different points. Further up js a stand of spectacular rock formations known as Stone Forest and nearby a deep welt with abundant water the year round. The echo of a scone thrown into the well resounds for a long time. At the foot of Jade Screen Peak is a temple romantically named “Moon-in-the-water Palace”. In ruins before the year of 1949, the temple was rebuilt and now serves as exhibition hall for paintings and calligraphy, as well as fossils and ancient relics unearthed nearby. Of particular interest are the fossilized teeth of a giant panda excavated in 1958. According to archaeologists, the area was once a primitive forest where many kinds of animals dwelt, the giant panda among them. This rare species is now found only in certain areas of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The highest of the Seven-star Rocks is Shishi (Stone Chamber) Peak, where nature has carved out many small caves within a cavern. On the walls a dozen meters high around an opening in the ceiling are 230 poems about the Seven-Stars Rocks carved by visitors from the 7th century on.

A subterranean river flows inside the stone chamber where a small boat takes visitors to view the artificially lighted rock structures on either side. The formations are imaginative named “Carp Spouting Water”, ‘‘Setting Hen”, ‘‘Rhinoceros Pining for the Moon”, ‘The Eagle Spreads Its Wings”….