万象洞

Wanxiang Dong - Wànxiàng dòng - Vientiane Cave


Useful Information

Location: Yangpang Village, Hanwang Town, Wudu District, Longnan City, Gansu Province. 10 km from Longnan.
(33.328534, 105.006661)
Open:
Fee:
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=4,500 m, A=1,150 m asl, T=14 °C, H=89 %.
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Wanxiang Dong, Wudu, Longnan, Gansu, Tel: +86-939-852-8414.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1993 approved by the Gansu Provincial People's Government as the provincial key cultural relics protection unit.
1999 approved as a provincial scenic spot.
2000 approved as a national AA-level scenic spot.
2004 approved by the Ministry of Propaganda of the Provincial Party Committee as a patriotic education base in the whole province.
2005 approved as a provincial geological park by Gansu Provincial Land and Resources Department.
09-JUN-2007 new cave discovered.
AUG-2007 approved as a national AAAA tourist attraction.
JAN-2017 Vientiane Cave Tourist Reception Center unveiled.

Description

万象洞 (Wanxiang Dong, 10,000 Elephant Cave) is located at the hillside 190 m above Bailongjiang (White Dragon River). Wanxiang and Vientiane are both transliterations of the same name, and the name Vientiane is also the name of the capital of Laos. The first part means 10,000 or any huge number. So we translated it 10,000 Elephant Cave, which is only one of numerous possibilities. To reach the cave the road crosses the river and then goes up the hill in serpentines. From the parking lot at the end of the road a staircase goes uphill, for the high numer of vivitors it has a railing in the middlw, so make sure you are on the right lane. Halfway, at a height of 1,150 m asl, is an outlook which offers a great view on the Bailong River valley. The hugeplaza in front of the cave is typically Chinese, with huge trees surrounding it and the huge Chinese letters 万象洞 (Wanxiang Dong) chiseled into a huge stone.

The show cave is in the first section of the "old"" cave, it is entered through a huge portal at the foot of a limestone cliff. The first part of the passage behind is filled with rimstone pools, which are unfortunately dry. Then there are three chambers with - typical for Chinese caves - esoteric names. The first is called 月宫 (Moon Palace) with a respectable Speleothemcurtain of 10 m length and 2.8 m width. The second chamber named 龙宫 (Dragon Palace) with the wind tunnel, a small opening 1 m height and 1.7 m width. As far as we understood, visitors must crawl through this hole to reach the next chamber named 天宫 (Heavenly Palace). Here is an abundance of stalactites and stalagmites of all forms. The cave has only one entrance, at the end of the developed part the tour turns around and returns the same way.

According to legend, there was a rhinoceros spirit living in Wanxiang Cave, which often caused mischief and had the secret support of the Third Prince of the Dragon King. When the Eight Immortals passed by and learnt of this, they decided to help the people. First, they tried to persuade and educate the rhinoceros spirit, but the stubborn spirit would not listen. The Eight Immortals fought a fierce battle for three days and three nights, but the rhinoceros spirit won repeatedly because he was familiar with the terrain of the cave.
In order to eradicate the evil, the Eight Immortals went to heaven and invited Tai Shang Lao Jun, Er Lang Shen and other gods and goddesses to set up a chain formation to take down the rhinoceros spirit and imprison him in the cave, and sent Chang E to guard him. As a result, there was a huge rhinoceros lying on its knees in the corner of the cave, looking up at the moon in the sky, forming the landscape of the rhinoceros looking at the moon.
The gods reported this to the Jade Emperor, and also told him about the unique view inside the cave. When the Jade Emperor heard that there was such a beautiful place on earth, he led his heavenly soldiers and generals down to earth to travel. The local god of the land told the people around the cave, and to commemorate the event, a Jade Emperor Treasure Hall was built on the mountain, where incense is offered from the third to the nineteenth day of the third month of the lunar calendar every year, and the custom continues to this day.

The cave is also known as 仙人洞 (Immortal Cave) and the 五仙洞 (Five Immortals Cave). According to legend five immortals used the cave for practicing. We are not sure what they practiced, being immortal probably? Actually we are not sure what the term Immortals actually means, the Eight Immortals from above legend sound like The Magnificent Seven.

There are actually two parallel passages, Wanxiang Dong has a length of 5 km, the nearby cave, 20 m to the east, is 600 m long. It seems like both caves would meet at a point in front of the cave entrances, but this part of the cave was destroyed by the river. The new cave was obviously once a side branch of Wanxiang Dong. This second cave was discovered in 2007 and named 万象姊妹洞 (Vientiane Sister Cave), but is generally called new cave. The tour also includes a short trip into the new cave. The first 100 m of the cave passage were developed with trails and electric light.

According to a local saying Vientiane Cave is as big as the whole mountain. A group of tourists(?) once brought luggage and dry food, traveled 5 kilometers, traveled through caves to the Dumu Bridge. There you can hear the sound of chickens and dogs in Wenxian County (on the other side of the mountain).

We are not sure how old this legend is, but it could be either 4,000 years old or just a decade. International caving expeditions frequent China, and as long as there is no noteworthy local caving scene the locals are completely stunned by the foreigners crawling into their caves. Such legends come up now and then.

Quite typical for Chinese caves Wanxiang Dong has numerous inscriptions with chinese leters, either to commemorate events or poems. In total there are 100 m² of inscriptions. The oldest is from 574 from the Northern Zhou Dynasty in the third year of Jiande. The inscription was by Emperor Wu Wen Yong for the minister of Wu Ding Gong He Lou Ci, who was on tour.