The breathtaking Tianmen Mountain is perched in the Hunan Province, a good 8 km away from the city centre of Zhangjiajie. With an unbelievable height of 1,518m it’s not only a bit intimidating, but also the tallest mountain within the municipality. But what really makes this mountain both famous and popular is the cave at its centre. Lovingly nicknamed the Gate to Heaven, it’s a naturally eroded hole in the rock. Several hundreds of steps lead to the gate which is precisely what inspired the name; looking at it from afar, it seems that the steps lead straight to heaven.
Gate to Heaven – above and beyond
Don’t worry, you won’t have to climb the huge mountain on foot to reach the Gate to Heaven. It’s easier to take the cable car. The station is approx. a 10 minute walk away from the main train station of the city, signposted with the name ‘Tianmen Mountain Cablecar’. Just make sure that you don’t suffer from a fear of heights beforehand – it’s going to whisk you 1,277 metres up after all! A spectacular view will present itself right at the start. After the roof of the station starts becoming smaller and smaller and the height keeps increasing, your journey continues above the fields and green landscapes. About half way through the journey you will reach the Alpine region and leave the green areas behind. A total of 99 winding roads snake through the hills all the way up to Tianmen Mountain – it’s a stunning sight. As the cable car ride nears to an end, it doesn’t mean that you’ve reached the Gate to Heaven yet. At the halfway station, you have the opportunity to continue the journey with a tourist bus. Then the Gate to Heaven will finally stretch before you: the proud 999 steps seem to be leading straight to heaven, hidden behind the eroded hole in the rock which measures 131 metres tall and 57 metres wide.
All roads lead to heaven
Overcoming the fits few metres with a cable car might be the easiest option of reaching the gate, but there are also different ways of climbing Tianmen Mountain. Despite about 99 winding roads leading to the mountain, driving there with your own car unfortunately is not allowed. Nevertheless it’s worth considering other routes as the attractions of the Tianmen Mountain can give your adrenaline levels a real boost. A few years ago, the Walk of Faith was built on a height of 1,430 metres, a kind of a glass viewing platform which stretches for 60 metres around the mountain. A quick look into the depths below is enough to justify its name.
Would you dare to take a leisurely stroll along the path? Or maybe you’ve already taken the first brave steps on the Walk of Faith? If so, tell me about your experiences in the comments below!