SITTING in a basin in western Zhejiang Province, Longyou County is a nice weekend getaway destination for people that live in the Yangtze River Delta Region. A labyrinth of grottoes, a seemingly vast green sea of bamboo, well-preserved old villages and idyllic scenery make for a relaxing trip.
Unearthed some 20 years ago when a couple of farmers accidentally stumbled upon them, the Longyou Grottoes boast 24 caves covering an area of 380,000 square meters. With an average height of 30 meters, each cave extends deep under the ground like a funnel. Each cave has two to five huge pillars featuring carvings of animals like horses and birds.
Historians and archeologists still don’t know the original purpose of the caves but speculate they could have been used for imperial burials, stone excavation or troop stations.
Apart from the grottoes, Longyou boasts a variety of well-preserved houses dating back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
A bamboo forest makes Longyou a pleasant place to visit year round. Azaleas blanket the mountains in the spring. It is also a great place for rally races.
Longyou is about a 4.5-hour drive from Shanghai. Bullet trains between Shanghai and Longyou take about 3.5 hours.
Shanghai Daily photographer Zhang Suoqing captures the county’s scenery.