Shapotou is located 22 km west of Zhongwei County City, one of the major interesting places in Ningxia. It was appraised by the National Tourism Administration as the AAAA class.
The Tengger Desert and the world famous project of harnessing desertification lies to its north, and the vast Yellow River is to its south with a green oasis appearing between them.
One of China's four famous sounding sand areas is the Golden Bell of Resonant Sand, which is at the top of the Shapotou. The 100-meterhigh dune looks like a flying waterfall. Because of the unique geographical circumstance and geological structure, sliding in hot summer can produce a bizarre sound like from a resonant bell or a large drum, muffled and deep that shocks all around.
To the north of the dune, is the boundless Tengger Desert through where runs the BaotouLanzhou railway line.A convoy of camels marches on with high raised heads and the camel-riding tourists leisurely tread on the sand like sailing on the waves of the sea in the sound of camel's bells.
On the foot of the dune, there is a verdant oasis, known as the bright pearl of the sand sea. The legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty, the place was the orchard of flowers and fruits owned by the king of Qing, the 16th son of Zhu Yuanzhang. The orchard is full of trees with fruits and exuberant grasses, crisscrossed by meandering footpaths and by singing brooks.
To the south of the orchard, tourists can have a sheepskin raft to cross the undulating Yellow River. Though it is an old-age ferryboat, yet it is safe without risks and is quite interesting.
The popularity of Shapotou also owes to the rich achievement made in the project of harnessing the sand. The Baotou-Landzhou railway line runs six times through the desert in Zhongwei County. The biggest slope of the area is in the Shapotou and the sandstorm is the fiercest. For the purpose of guaranteeing the smooth passage of the line, relevant department starting from the 1950s began building up a project of sand prevention and dune-fixing along both sides of the track. Now a barley grass sand prevention area covering 5000 mu of land has been developed along both sides of the track. Today, the dream of the scenery of "green plants cover the dunes" has come true in Shapotou. This miracle of the achievement in harnessing desertification has caused a common concern of the world environmental protection community. Many foreign sand harnessing specialists were attracted to visit the area and the UN's relevant organization has hosted seminars on sand harnessing in the place for many times to disseminate its experience.
The High Temple at Zhongwei
First built in the period of the reign of Emperor Chengzhu of Ming Dynasty (1403-1424), the High Temple was originally called "new temple." During the period of the reign of Emperor Shengzhu of Qing Dynasty, it was renovated renamed "Pavilion of Jade Emperor." Now, there remains the High Temple, famous for its height. On a high terrace of about 4000 square meters, buildings and pavilions involving more than 260 rooms were constructed. On the brick carved arch gate of the temple, there hangs a pair of scrolls, reading: "From here the Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism will realize the salvation of me and him. From here the Heaven, Earth and Man will realize the self cultivation and self transformation." The banner reads: "the supreme bridge of Dharma." We can see that it was a place for religious activities of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.
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