Huangshan, China: A gigantic cave labyrinth that shouldn’t exist

Huangshan Caves

Huangshan Caves

The mysterious Huangshan Caves bring together quite a few interesting sights in themselves. You will witness natural wonder traces, and human creations, such as, fresh mountain and water, rich local flora, bizarre rocks, peaks, Moya stone sculptures, ancient temples and buildings, and of course, caves for thousands of years themselves. The landscape complex of high quality makes Huangshan Caves an extremely attractive place for sightseers with limited time.

In Anhui Province, the Huangshan Caves were discovered in the famous Huangshan Mountains east of Tongxi in the late 1990s. The news of the discovery of the caves immediately interested a large number of travelers and tourists. Interest in the caves was fueled by the fact that they are located at 30 degrees north latitude, i.e. on the same geographic latitude as the Egyptian pyramids, the Bermuda Triangle, the mysterious Himalayas, etc. Visitors to Huashan Caves unanimously declare: it is another wonder of the world!

Unlike natural caves, Huashan is the work of human hands. It is a bizarre cave complex resembling an underground palace. So far, 36 caves have been explored under the mountain and along the riverbed. The chain of caves stretches for 5 km.

Huangshan Caves

The scientific survey of the area was carried out after a local resident sent a letter to the city authorities in 1999. As a result, groups of specialists from scientific institutes and universities were sent to the caves area. For example, specialists from Tsinghua University developed a general project for the development of the cave complex, specialists from Tongji University provided lighting, etc. During the preliminary clearing of the caves the experts were amazed by the scope of what they saw – none of the known in our country can compare to the Huashan cave complex. For example, the total area of only two caves – № 2 and № 35 – exceeds 17 thousand square meters. The volume of soil and rubble extracted from these caves was 20 thousand cubic meters. Pumping out 18 thousand tons of water from cave No. 35 was conducted by three pumps during 12 consecutive days.

Cave number 35, which is now open to the public, has 36 rooms and 26 pillars (the circumference of one of the pillars is more than 10 m). All the rooms have an irregular, bizarre, tiered shape. Specialists note the high technical and aesthetic thoughtfulness of the caves. In caves № 2 and № 36 18 bas-reliefs were found. You can see stone terraces, ponds and pools with green water, stone bridges. Traveling through the cave complex you find yourself in a vast hall, and then in a narrow gallery – as if you are walking through a bizarre palace.

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Huangshan Caves

Comrade Jiang Zemin visited the cave complex in May 2001 and wrote four hieroglyphs, giving the cave complex the name “Huashan miku”. He noted that the Huashan Caves are China’s national treasure. In January 2003, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Yingfang visited the complex and said that solving the mystery of these caves would put this majestic complex on a par with the Great Wall of China and the Shrine of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Like the Egyptian pyramids, the Huashan caves hold many mysteries. Who created these caves and when? Where were hundreds of thousands cubic meters of stones taken out? Why these caves are not mentioned in the historical chronicles? Why were they discovered only in our time?

During the cleaning of the caves there were found ceramic products, attributed by experts to the Jin dynasty (265-420), which gives grounds to attribute the caves by the time of creation to this time. This conclusion is tentatively confirmed by studies of stalactites.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The Chinese have a saying: “If you have visited the five sacred mountains of China, then you can not go to the other mountains. We’re talking about Mount Huashan, the center of Taoist religious practices and a place to practice alchemy. It is said that Lao Tzu himself lived here. Not so long ago, a complex of mysterious caves was discovered in the depths of the Blooming Mountain.


Huashan Mountain is called the Blossoming Mountain because the peaks of this complex of five mountains form a lotus flower. The mountains are about 1-2 miles apart and are oriented to each side of the world: center, south, north, east, and west. Mount Huashan is the western sacred mountain. It should be noted that this is an unusually scenic area, but the ascent to the tops of the complex is very dangerous.

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The paths leading to the tops are very narrow, winding, 12 km long. They wind their serpentine way around the rocks and eventually converge at the highest point of the complex at an altitude of 2,100 meters. Basically, only pilgrims dare to do this route.

Sometimes they have to overcome the path on narrow bridges attached by chains to sheer cliffs, which requires considerable physical strength and endurance, and most importantly, great determination. After all, most of the wooden bridges were built centuries ago.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The trail leading to the summit passes by Taoist monasteries, some of whose buildings date back to the 11th century, such as the Yuquan Temple and the palaces of the Yuan dynasty. But most of the buildings are of a later period, dating back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Huashan complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Today, the unusual and inaccessible Huashan Mountain is even better known for the spectacular manmade caves found there at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Everyone who was lucky enough to see them unanimously considers them one of the wonders of the world. These unique dungeons in the rocks of the southern part of Anhui Province (China), east of Tongxi City, were accidentally discovered in 1999.

They were discovered by a local peasant, who was so amazed by what he saw that he considered it necessary to inform the authorities about his discovery. And he was not mistaken: the caves caused a real sensation in the scientific world. Scientists, researchers, journalists and tourists rushed to the area Huashan.

The caves are located at 30 degrees north latitude, that is, on the same parallel to the pyramids of Giza, the sacred mountain of Kailas in Tibet and the Bermuda Triangle, and as if close this mysterious chain. Such a location can hardly be considered a coincidence.

To date, scientists know about 36 caves, but how many of them in fact no one knows. The answer to the question whether each of them is a separate structure or there is a connection between them remains a mystery.

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When conducting a preliminary examination of the caves, the researchers were struck by the scale of what they saw. The underground complex of Mount Huashan was larger than any other known of its kind. All 36 caves were given serial numbers and many of them did not yet have names.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

For example, the total area of the 2nd and 35th caves exceeded 17 thousand square meters. At a rough count, 20 thousand cubic meters of rubble and soil were taken out and 18 tons of water were pumped out during their clearing. Three powerful pumps had been working there for 12 days. Now the premises are open for visitors.

The cave number 35 is also called the underground palace. Apparently, it was given such an honorary name because of its truly royal size. It is located at a depth of 170 m, and its total area is 12,600 square meters. Its entrance is small. To get into this magnificence, you have to pass a 20-meter tunnel.

In the middle of the underground palace there are 26 huge stone columns, supporting the vaults of the cave. These giant pillars are more than ten meters in diameter. As you move into the cave, it seems as if they diverge, forming a triangle.

The palace is not only striking: One of its walls, which is 15 meters wide and 30 meters long, is located at an angle of 45 degrees. Scientists using infrared rays have established that this wall is created by nature and is a natural formation.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

You can also see the underground lakes and pools with clear clear water through which you can see the bottom. Separate halls, stone stairs, bridges over underground rivers… Curiously enough, all these pools are seven feet below the level of the Xinyang River, flowing in the valley of Huashan Mountain. A strange two-tiered structure with a balcony, from which visitors can see the whole panorama of the cave, also astonishes scientists.

Another cave called Huanxi also has a huge area – 4,800 square meters with a length of 140 m. Inside it has several rooms: a spacious hall with columns, swimming pools and several small rooms on two sides of the tunnel.

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It should be noted that all the underground rooms are tiered and have an irregular, bizarre shape. However, one gets the impression that whoever created all this has thought out the details down to the last detail. More recently, 18 bas-reliefs were discovered in caves 2 and 36.

Couldn’t all these stone bridges, stairs, balconies, columns be evidence that the caves are of artificial origin?


That the caves were built by humans is no longer in doubt. Take, for example, the tool marks similar to those of a chisel, which can be seen on the surface of the ceilings and walls. But what kind of tool created these grooves, and how the stone was chiseled out: in pieces or removed completely, as well as whether the ancient builders used scaffolding, is still not clear.

Perhaps, they simply made the most of what nature had created. If we assume that rock was chiseled out, then they would have had to take out of these places at least 100 thousand cubic meters of stone! Such amount of rock could well pave the road with the length of 240 kilometers. Actually, the Chinese can do a lot of things.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The question is where have the dumps gone, since no traces of the extracted rock have been found. Have they built houses? No, all the houses in the area are built of blue stone, and Huashan is composed of mottled rock.

The next question that puzzled the scientists: what technology did the builders use, if the angle of the inner walls exactly repeats the outer angle of the mountain and its curves? If they had not done so, they would surely have punched a hole to the outside. How did people manage to achieve such an unusual interior? Again, they could not have worked in complete darkness, so they must have lit the rooms somehow, but no traces of fire or soot were found…

The fact that the caves are completely devoid of echo, the vaults and walls are arranged in such a way that they absorb sounds, ensuring complete silence, seems absolutely amazing. Why? Perhaps the echo could have prevented the saying of a prayer.

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It is surprising that such a massive structure is not described anywhere. Only a manuscript by a Chinese historian of the Han Dynasty (135-87 B.C.) mentions Mount Huashan, but not the caves. He wrote that Chinese rulers went to the mountain to pray to the gods and their ancestors there. Perhaps it was in the caves that these prayers were heard, because it is unlikely that the emperors made the difficult way to the top.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)

The purpose of the construction of the caves to this day remains a mystery. That they were not built for habitation, there is no doubt. Then what was it for? For meditation and worship? But there are no murals or any deities in them, so it is doubtful that they served a cult purpose. If they were ancient temples, what rites were performed there, and most importantly, by whom?

Maybe the reason is much more prosaic, and the stone was simply mined there? But why did they have to complicate their task? Stone can be mined on the surface of the mountain, not inside it. Also they were not suitable as a storehouse for grain because of the high humidity.

Or was it some kind of secret object? A place of deployment of troops, for example. A great many versions can be invented, but none of them has yet been confirmed by evidence.

The Mystery of the Caves in the Chinese Huashan Mountain (10 photos)


The study of the caves continues. Scientists are trying to find passages and tunnels which could connect the individual halls. In the process of research there are new findings. For example, pottery has been found, according to experts, created in 265-420 years in the era of the Jin Dynasty.

Based on the analysis of stalactites and walls of the caves was determined their approximate age – 1 700 years. But it is possible that the caves are much older than scientists assume. There are a lot of questions, and the researchers have enough work for many years.

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