Elephant Trunk Hill

Situated at the junction of the Li River and Taohua River, is the landmark of Guilin – Elephant Trunk Hill. This stunning karst landform resembles an enormous elephant stretching its trunk to drink water, hence the name. The hill has been a renowned destination for over a thousand years. In addition to the breathtaking natural scenery of the area, there are also several ancient surrounding sites. With its spectacular beauty and numerous surrounding cultural relics, Elephant Trunk Hill is an attraction that cannot be missed.

Interesting Facts

- Geologists believe Elephant Trunk Hill was formed after limestone was deposited on an ancient seabed over 360 million years ago.

- Located in the southern portion of Guilin, this unique karst landform has been a famous destination since the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 AD).

- The hill is located in “Elephant Hill Park”, with numerous ancient buildings located within.

- Some of the renowned sites found in the scenic area include Yunfeng Temple and Puxian Pagoda.

History Of Elephant Trunk Hill

The city of Guilin has long been known for its karst topography. Because of its fascinating landscape, the city has become one of the most popular destinations in China. Elephant Trunk Hill is Guilin’s most renowned karst formation, and serves as its beloved landmark. Karst is formed after the dissolving of soluble rock such as limestone, gypsum, and dolomite. Underground caves and sinkholes often characterize this sort of topography. Scientists studying Elephant Trunk Hill believe this specific karst landscape was formed after the dissolution of limestone on an ancient seabed, some 360 million years ago.

During the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 AD), Guilin prospered becoming an important cultural and military hub. What for an influx of people to the area, the spectacular landscape of Elephant Trunk Hill quickly became a famous destination for visitors. During this period, Yunfeng Temple was constructed on the southwest section of the hill. Yunfeng is one of the most famous ancient temples in Guilin, and was once the home of the renowned Tang dynasty monk, Jianzhen (688 to 763 AD). Jianzhen was a Chinese Buddhist monk is credited with helping to spread Buddhism in Japan.

Another structure located on top of Elephant Trunk Hill is Puxian Pagoda. This brick building is 14 metres (45 ft) high, and was constructed during the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). The pagoda resembles the hilt of a sword protruding from the back of an elephant. It was built for the worship of Samantabhadra, who forms the “Shakyamuni trinity” in Buddhism.

Culture Of Elephant Trunk Hill

One of the predominant legends surrounding Elephant Trunk Hill, is the formation of the hill, itself. According to the ancient legend, the Emperor of Heaven came down to Earth to do battle. He used an elephant as his mount. Rather than serving as transportation to the Emperor, said elephant choose instead to help the people of Guilin. This infuriated the Emperor, who consequently stabbed the poor creature as it was drinking at the river’s edge, turning it to stone. In reverence, the people of Guilin erected Puxian Pagoda at the top of the hill, representing the sword. Thereafter, the kindly elephant has lived with the inhabitants of the Guilin, watching over the city.

Located between the trunk of the elephant and its body on Elephant Trunk Hill, is the exquisite Water Moon Cave. Although there are several karst caves surrounding Guilin, this is the only one where a river flows through it. The round cave resembles a full moon floating on water, hence the name. The cave is about 17 metres (55 ft) long, 12 metres (39 ft) high, and 9.5 metres (31 ft) wide. It covers a total area of about 150 square metres. On nights when the moon is out, moonlight glittering on the water makes for an enchanting scene.

Considered the most impressive feature on Elephant Trunk Hill, poets and writers have been drawn to the spectacular sight of the cave for centuries. Inside the cave, there are more than 50 stone inscriptions and carvings, some dating from the Tang (618 to 907 AD) and Song (960 to 1279 AD) dynasties. These are regarded as important relics of both cultural and historical significance.

Another famous site located on Elephant Trunk Hill is Elephant Eye. Following the winding stone path up the hill, visitors come upon this fascinating rock formation tat essentially resembles the “eye” of the elephant. It is about 2 metres (6 ft.) high, 5 to 10 metres (16 to 32 ft.) wide, and 52.8 metres (173 ft.) long.


- The best time to visit Elephant Trunk Hill is in the morning and evening. In the morning, mist rising off the Li River makes for a beautiful sight. Likewise, when the moon is out on a clear evening, moonlight dancing on the water in Water Moon Cave is enchanting.

- Elephant Trunk Hill is open from 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM, April to November. From December to March, the attraction is open from 7 AM to 9:30 PM.

- Elephant Trunk Hill is easily accessible via Guilin public transportation.

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