中石院天坑

Zhongshiyuan Tiankeng


Useful Information

Location:
(29.452081, 107.820061)
Open:
Fee: Adults CNY 120.
[2022]
Classification: KarstTiankeng
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=630, W=565, VR=214 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Zhongshiyuan Tiankeng, Tel: +86-, Fax: +86-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

2013 village opened as a living folk museum.
APR-2016 Zhongshiyuan and Xiashiyuan merged into one scenic area.

Description

中石院天坑 (Zhōngshí yuàn tiān kēng, Zhongshiyuan Tiankeng) is a huge doline or tiankeng. With a diameter around 600 m the surface of the floor is big enough for a village named 中石院 (Zhōngshí yuàn, Middle Stone Courtyard). Almost 20 families are said to live there for centuries. Nevertheless, the need to climb several hundred meter for anything, including going to school, shopping, or going to work, makes living there a bit strenuous. There is a trail but no road.

Lately the site was transformed into a sort of folk museum or living museum. The Tujia people follow the ancient methods of weaving and farming, continue the marriage customs for thousands of years, and live in the characteristic hammock buildings. They also dance traditional folk dances, sing ancient mountain songs, and entertain visitors with well-preserved folk customs. Visitors have to walk to the village and can stay at the inn overnight, a sort of time travel experience.

The two huge tiankengs Zhongshiyuan and Xiashiyuan were merged in April 2016 into a new scenic Tiankeng Village scenic spot. They have one visitor center with ticket office for both. As we understood the ticket is also valid for both, although we are actually not sure why visitors should visit both of them, as they seem to be almost identical. Only the tiankeng is completely different, one is circular and seems to be the result of a collapse cavern, the other is elongated and probably the result of a collapsed passage.