The Gate to Heaven, Hunan, China 25 Nov 2016
About this photo
At the top of Tianmen Mountain in Hunan, China, there is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Over hundreds of years, soil and water erosion have slowly formed a 30-metre-wide arch in the rock face of the mountain. However, according to Chinese folklore, a piece of the mountain fell off in the year 263 and created the huge cavity. The arch on Tianmen Mountain – known as Heaven's Gate – is the highest known instance of this natural phenomenon on the planet, sitting at almost 5,000 feet above sea level.
To reach the top of the mountain, you can either take a cable car or drive along a very windy road, with 99 hairpin bends, although parts of the route are walkable. From there, there are 99 steps to climb before you reach the arch, which is often shrouded in clouds. The 99 bends and steps are no coincidence: in Taoism, the number 9 represents the Emperor, also known as the Son of Heaven.
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