Our second day at Taroko. We woke up early and were feeling excited to join the three-hour guided tour organised by the hotel as part of the hotel stay package. The first stop was to Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine, then to Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) Trail.
The Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine is an oriental temple located on top of a natural spring. The Shrine was completed at the end of 1957 to commemorate those who lost their lives in the construction of the central cross-island highway.
The Changchun Shrine was rebuilt twice due to landslide in 1979 and 1987, rebuilding completed to the left of the original site in 1989. The rock near Changchun Shrine is mixed greenschist, thin marble and quartz schist strata. The rock is fragile and the water from the Liwu River continually eroding the foot of the slope below the shrine is causing more damage.
Along the way, we have a few pit stops where the guide explained to us on the construction of the highway and how the nature reacted to it. All visitors were instructed to wear safety helmets once we got out of the car due to potential risk of falling rocks.
To reach the Shrine, we walked through a tunnel and visited the Buddhist Cave.
Walking through the Buddhist Cave, we finally arrived at Changchun Shrine and looking at it up close. The Shrine is a typical Chinese Shrine but the journey to the Shrine is scenic.
After spending around half an hour at the Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine, the guide brought us to the Yanzihou (Swallow Grotto) Trail where we saw pitted limestone cliffs in varying gradation of grey, home to a colony of swallows earning the name Swallow Grotto. When we were there, we didn’t get to see that many swallows, perhaps it was not the right time of the year. Spring and summer are the breeding seasons.
The rising air currents in the gorge carry many insects, I guess that’s why the swallows are attracted to the gorge.
Standing in front of the cliff face, observing the potholes holes, made me wonder how are these holes formed. As I read on the information found at the site, there are two possible reasons. First, the Liwu River continued down cutting, they were hollowed out of the marble by the abrasion effect of the river sand in the water. Second, they are outlets for ground water seeped out from cracks in the rock and the holes were formed over time as the rock erode. The potholes on the cliff reminds of the potholes I saw at En Gedi National Park at Israel.
We spent quite a bit of time, enjoying the scenic view, awe by the beauty of nature which will probably look different twenty years from now.
As part of the Swallow Grotto Trail, we visited the Jinheng Park connected via the Jinheng Bridge spanning the Ludan River, a tributary of the Liwu River. It was originally called the Bailong Bridge but was renamed to commemorate Jinheng, Chief Engineer of the Xipan Engineering Section, who was swept by the landslide.
Jinheng, Chief Engineer, was the most senior of the many fatalities during the construction of the highway. Upon its completion of the bridge, it was named “Jinheng Bridge” and a statue if Jinheng was erected at the site, now Jinheng Park, in his memory.
Standing on the observatory of the Jinheng Park, we saw a lifelike Indian Chief’s profile rock, with a sharp nose, mouth, chin, eyes and also a dimple. The green plants above the “forehead” make it look like an Indian Chief with headdress. The Indian Chief profile is carved by the constant power of flowing water from the Liwu River over thousands of years, cutting through the marble, forming the gorge. The awesomeness of nature.
After admiring the spectacular view of the gorge, the guide brought us back to the hotel for lunch.
For more information on Taroko National Park, check out here .
This Taiwan trip was made in December 2018.
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