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Elephant Trunk Hill


Infall of Peach Blossom River and Li River, Guilin, Guangxi, China

Reasons to visit

Landmark of Guilin City

Our Ratings

Opening Hours

  • 6:30~19:00(Apr. to Oct.)
  • 7:00~18:30 (Nov. to next Mar.)
Guilin Elephant Trunk Hill, also called the elephant hill, lies on the conjunction of the Li River and the peach blossom river. It is the badge of Guilin city. The whole hill looks exactly like a huge elephant stretching its trunk drinking water of the Li River. It is the masterpiece of karst landscape, composed of pure limestone deposited on seabed 360million years ago.
Between the "trunk" and the "body" is a vast round cave which resembles a full moon on water hence the name Moon-over-Water Cave. When the waters wave and the moonlight gleams, the scene is exceedingly enchanting. This cave intoxicated innumerous poets through ages. Many lines can be found giving high honor of the cave.

On the top of the hill stands a pagoda - Puxian Pagoda. Built in Ming Dynasty, it has a long history. At the foot of the hill is Yunfeng Temple, inside which is now the exhibition of The Revolution of the Taiping Heavenly Kindom in Guilin.

Legends about Elephant Trunk Hill

There are quite a few legents telling about the stoty of Elephant Trunk Hill. The most popular ones are as follow.

One legent tells that how Elephant Trunk Tree came about, In ancient time there is an elephant, which belonged to the Emperor of Heaven, came down to earth to help the people in their work. This angered the Emperor of Heaven, who stabbed the elephant while it was drinking at the river's edge and turned it to stone. The cave between the body and the trunk of this elephant figure is of a particularly interesting shape and has inspired poets and other writers, old and new, to engrave verses on its walls. The poems of Lo You, Fan Chengda, and other poets from different dynasties are of inestimable literary and archaeological value. On the top of the hill stands the Puxian Pagoda, erected during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and shaped as the handle of the dagger with which the elephant was killed. 

Another legent tells that in ancient time, once 7 fairies came down from the heaven palace to appreciate the beautiful sceneries in the world. The youngest fairy saw that people living along the Li River often bothered by the flood, and the masses were living on the edge of starvation. She took pity on them. So she came down again with the god elephant of the Jade Emperor to help people here. When the Jade Emperor found the truth, he was very angry. He ordered his celestial general to take the fairy back. The elephant became the elephant hill with a sword on its back and it would never go back to the heaven palace. One day, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva passed here and saw the god elephant was suppressed by a sword on its back. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva was moved by what the elephant did. He pulled out the sword on the back of the elephant. But the elephant still violated the rules of the Heaven Palace; Samantabhadra Bodhisattva had to put his magic vase on the back of the elephant to keep it here. Later the vase became the Samantabhadra Pagoda. Time flied by, later, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva passed here again and he wanted to free the god elephant but found it already become the hill and could never come back to the Heaven Palace again. When Samantabhadra Bodhisattvadecided to come back, he found no one live here as the god elephant dredged the channel and disturbed the water in the river, and the water was so dirty that no people or animal could drink it. And he found it was because there were no stones at the bottom of the river which made the soil in the river could not deposit. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva changed his white elephant into a golden stone into the river, the water the river instantaneously become crystal clear. After that, many people came back to the bank of the Li River and lived here. People were moved by the god elephant. For memorizing the elephant, people named it the Elephant Hill or Elephant Trunk Hill.

What to See

【Moon-Over-Water Cave】
(Between the "trunk" and the "body" is a vast round cave which resembles a full moon on water hence the name Moon-over-Water Cave. When the waters wave and the moonlight gleams, the scene is exceedingly enchanting. This cave intoxicated innumerous poets through ages. Many lines can be found giving high honor of the cave. )
It formed in 12000 years ago, the earth's crust uplifted, Li River shrinked, which accelerated the development of Moon-over-Water Cave and forming a transparent round cave. 17 meters long, 9.5 meters wide, 12 meters high, covers an area of about 150 square meters. Moon-over-Water Cave entrance is facing sun so it also called Facing Sun Cave. But the cave is on the water, such as bright moon floating, very image, so the name of Moon-Over-Water has been in use till now.
【Facing Sun Pavilion】
Within the Elephant Trunk Hill Moon-Over Water Cave, Facing Sun Pavilion was built in the Song dynasty, pavilion has spent earlier, but far more than 800 years ago, centered on the name of Moon-Over Water Cave, two state's former and later governor had debate, which has become the eternal topic that people visit here. Originally, during the Southern Song Dynasty Qiandap period second years (AD 1166), Zhang Xiaoxiang visited Moon-Over Water Cave and lingered till night. When he revisited again soon, he was very happy and prefaced, and due the cave enter was facing east, so changed the pavilion, cave, rock name for all "Chaoyang (Facing Sun)", and engraved his poem Facing Sun Pavilion Poetic Preface on the north wall of Moon-Over-Water Cave. Thereafter, Fan Chengda became governor, and he had dissidence with the new name of Facing Sun so he changed its name to old name Moon-Over-Water Cave, and wrote down Inscription of Renewing Name of Moon-Over-Water Cave, and engraved it to the south wall of the cave.
【Elephant Eye Rock】
The Elephant Eye Rock is in the south and north hillside of Elephant Trunk Hill, about 2 meters high, 5 to 10 meters wide, 52.8 meters long, and it is oblong shape, area of about 274 square meters. Elephant Eye Rock was a short ancient underground river way, and it formed earlier than Moon-Over-Water Cave, named after its position of elephant eye.

Travel Guide of Elephant Trunk Hill

【Best time to travel Elephant Trunk Hill】 The four seasons all appropriate for visiting Elephant Trunk Hill. Guilin is a subtropical monsoon climate, mild and has abundant rainfall, sufficient sunlight, and four
distinctive seasons , no extremely cold winter and no extremely heated summer
【How to Get to Elephant Trunk Hill】You can choose a free public car (No.57 and 58) or take bus No.2 , and 23 to Elephant Trunk Hill Park Stop and get off, that its Elephant Trunk Hill No.1 Gate. And you can take scenic spot shuttle bus straight to the scenic spot from the gate.
【Tips】 the best visit time is in the morning and at night.
Morning—Misty Elephant Trunk Hill
Misty Li River is a representative scene of Guilin Landscape. At that time, Elephant Trunk Hill is misty in the misty rains, and the broad river will give you a different ecperience.
Night—Elephant Trunk Hill Moon-Over-Water
Elephant Trunk Hill Moon-Over-Water is a great night scene, people who are fond of photography can not miss. You can take pictures while on Li River Cruise, the cruise time will be one hour.

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