Reed Flute Cave

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The Reed Flute Cave is a landmark and tourist attraction in Guilin, Guangxi, China.It is a natural limestone cave with multicolored lighting and has been one of Guilin's most interesting attractions for over 1200 years. It is over 180 million years old.

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Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

The cave got its name from the type of reed growing outside, which can be made into melodious flutes. Reed Flute Cave is filled with a large number of stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations in weird and wonderful shapes. Inside, there are more than 70 inscriptions written in ink, which can be dated back as far as 792 AD in the Tang Dynasty. These aged inscriptions tell us that it has been an attraction in Guilin since ancient times. It was rediscovered in the 1940s by a group of refugees fleeing the Japanese troops.

Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

Features of The Reed Flute Cave

With its location five kilometers northwest of the downtown of Guilin, the Reed Flute Cave is a brilliant cave marked on almost all travel itineraries. The cave got its name from the verdant reeds growing outside it, with which people make flutes. Inside this water-eroded cave is a spectacular world of various stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations created by carbonate deposition. Illuminated by colored lighting, the fantastic spectacle is found in many variations along this 240-meter-long cave. Walking through the serried stone pillars, tourists feast their eyes on changing spots, feeling they are in a paradise where the Gods live.

Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

Tourists enter the cave and then take a U-shaped sight-seeing route to see different spots, whereupon they exit it from another cave quite near the entrance one. One trip lasts about one hour. It is a Chinese habit to give each formation a legendary or poetic name such as Crystal Palace, Dragon Pagoda, Virgin Forest, Flower and Fruit Mountain and other interesting names. For some of these names, you need to use your imagination, but the story behind each is quite fun. It's a pleasure to listen to romantic or fairy tales whilst appreciating the fantastic stone formations.

Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

Both the stories and the lighting add mystery to the scene. Although there are different kinds of lighting inside, you are not supposed to take photos unless you are a professional photographer, because the light inside is not sufficient for exposure. At some spots, such as the Crystal Palace or Flower and Fruit Mountain, special photography is offered at 20 yuan for one picture. (They use special equipment to provide enough illumination.) Some 70 inscriptions on the cave wall are said to be travelogues and poems derived from the Tang Dynasty, which made the cave a popular tourist site at that time.

Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

A park is built for the cave with zigzag path, elegant pavilions, ponds, bridges, plants and other garden structures.

The cave received its name in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) for the numerous reeds growing outside the cave. Local children liked to carve the reeds into flutes. Even today, children can be seen around the cave's entrance offering to sell the reed flutes that they make to visitors. What makes Reed Flute Cave so marvelous are the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that can be found inside the cave. The formations were created over thousands of years by dripping water. A very small amount of calcium carbonate located in the water adheres to the stone with each drop. When the drop hits the floor of the cave it also leaves a small calcium carbonate deposit that will eventually become a stalagmite. These formations sometimes meet and become a column. They grow on average of one millimeter per year. The formations can be quite astounding and the ones found in Reed Flute Cave are particularly beautiful.

Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

While walking through the cave, visitors feel like they are being transported to different environments. Some sections seem like a forest of crystal trees, while others seem like underground mountain ranges and even cities. The strange formations can sometimes seem unworldly. Many of the formations have taken on recognizable shapes of mythological creatures, or natural images. There is one formation that even looks like Santa Claus with his sack on his back. Due to the darkness of the cave, it is quite difficult to get a photograph that can express the same feeling as actually being there.

Reed Flute Cave
Reed Flute Cave

The cave is over 240 meters in length and it takes visitors approximately one hour to walk through the entire cave. The cave's route is U-shaped and the exit and entrance are very near each other. There are over 70 ancient stone inscriptions that can be found in the cave. They are travelogues and poems writing by Tang Dynasty literati who visited the cave and found it so beautiful that they wanted to leave their thoughts behind for future generations of visitors.

Visitors to Guilin definitely do not want to miss Reed Flute Cave. It is a magical place with so much to see that always makes visitors feel like there was something they missed. It is one of the highlights to any trip to Guilin.

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