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  On a downward spiral  

  

 

Looking for an inspiring travel experience, but not so keen on the searing summer heat? Venture underground to the geological splendor and cool expanse of Yishui County's caves, in Shandong Province.

Three hours' drive from Qingdao, the Yishui Underground Gallery is known as the first cavern in northern China, with over 3,300 meters of explored corridors.

Down here, nature is like an artist who spent millions of years working to shape unique landscapes. It's stunning how the stalactites can vary in shape: Some look like turtles scouting the sea, some look like lions climbing the mountains and some look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Locals have grouped some of the sights and given them apt names.

Visitors marvel at stalactites dropping from the top, stalagmites spiking up from the ground, and stone flowers blossoming everywhere. Over 100 stalactites sites have been adorned with lights to present a mysterious and artistic air.

Highlights include:

Scenery of the North features a world of ice and snow where a white eagle stands on a huge stone on snow-covered mountains.

The Wonders of the Universe glitters with countless stars. Visitors may feel as if traveling in the outer space where they could touch the Galaxy.

Landscape in the South includes strange mountains, grotesque stones, small bridges and streams.

Seabed World, a turtle is watching the sun rising on the sea.

The scenery of Buddha formed by thousands of stalagmites is the most marvelous.

Geological experts hail the cave as a karst museum due to the abundant variety of formations. The underground river, with a total length of more than 10 kilometers, is by far the longest of its sort found in Shandong Province.

The cave is said to have been discovered by a villager after heavy rain in the 1980s. Today, it has developed into a major tourist destination, attracting more than 2 million visitors each year. Many students and geologists also come to conduct research.

 

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