Ancient Cliff

Acient CliffAt the foot of Haituo Hill 15 kilometres northwest of Yanqing County, Beijing lays a valley lined with steep cliffs. Scattered throughout the cliffs are pavilion-shaped caves, remnants-of an ancient stone cave village. In 1990, the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau designated it Guyaju-the Ancient Cliff Compound. Even today, its origin remains a mystery. When, why and by whom was this compound built? While some people say they were shelters for troops, others believe they were bandits’ fortresses. Still others argued that they were constructed by the Shanrong tribe of the spring and Autumn Periods (770 BC-476 BC). So far, no unanimous conclusion has solved this mystery.
The Ancient Cliff Compound’s 117 caves are divided into two sections: ninety-one in front and twenty-six in the rear. Varying from singles to two-and three-room suites, many caves are interconnected. Some caves contain well-preserved doors, windows, and stovepipes. In the middle of the ridge is a palace-like-cave called Guantangzi (Official Hall). This spacious hall’s roof is propped up by four elaborately-sculpted stone pillars over a large stone desk in the centre. To make the compound more accessible to tourists, highways were paved to the site in 1990. Since then, antique collectors and explorers have been flocking here all the year round.
About 50 kilometres east of the compound is Xiadelongwan Village. East of the village on the north bank of the Baihe River is a hill, which offers a bird’s-eye view of a 400-metre-wide band of wooden fossils. Formed in the late Jurassic Period (135 million years ago) and up to 2. 5 metres in diameter, the wood fossils are yellowish-brown, one is the Shituo-a huge fossil trunk over four metres long-which spans a stream with each end thrust into a mountain.

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