The Swallow Cave in Jianshui County
Known as one of "the biggest and most splendid cave in Asia", the Swallow Cave Scenic Region is located in the mountains 30 km east of Jianshui, and consists of a dry cave, a water cave and a 30,000-square-meter natural forest, with a total area of 100,000 square meters. Every year between spring and summer, thousands of swallows will fly here from Malaysia, building nests and giving birth to and raising young swallows. Thus it is named "the Swallow Cave". The local environment is a perfect dwelling for swallows because steep cliffs make it impossible for mice and snakes to come up, and bushes and grassland outside the cave help produce insects that provide abundant food for swifts. The special ecosystem makes a grand scene-"the gathering of thousands of swallows".
Swallows build their nests with grass and their nutritious saliva. The steamed swallows 'nest is a delicacy-edible bird's nest. Every year from August 8 to 10 during the famous "Bird's Nest Festival", some local people will climb up the dazzling 50-meter-high cliffs to fetch these nests. During the three days, many people will gather here and watch the dangerous but exciting nest-collecting activity.
Every year on March 21, another special but even more dangerous and exciting activity is the board-hanging ceremony. As a rule, firecrackers are let off to express people's good wishes to climbers. Then in a merry atmosphere, those brave men slowly and carefully climb up, barehanded. Although it is very dangerous, no one has failed to hang a board onto the top. Nowadays, over 1,000 boards hang on the stalactites over the entrance, some of which have been there for generations.
Inside the Swallow Cave, there is a tourist track of about 3,000 meters. The upper part is a dry cave and the lower part is a water cave. Along the track, there are three main scenic areas, namely, "Exploring Along Dragon Spring", "Picking up Beauty in Heavenly Streets" and "Wonder Land". The total tourist area reaches 40,000 square meters. Entering the cave, steeping up the stairs on the left and passing through a narrow cave, one arrives at the "air veranda", which gives people a dazzling feeling. The scene in the water cave is marvelous as well, which a 50-meter-high and 30-meter-wide entrance. The Lujiang River pours into the cave through the entrance as its underground river. Experts have proved that the water cave has had a history of three million years. Due to the wash of water, stalactites of different shapes have come into being. The dry cave is shaped like a grand hall, big enough to contain 1,000 people. It is a place for rest and for watching local performances. At the exit, three different pieces of the sky can be seen at three different positions. This is another unique scene, which adds luster to the cave.