June 17, 2018

THE GREAT WALL

Everyone knows the Great Wall of China but not everyone is aware about its length. There are many differing accounts because it is built from different materials – some are trenches and some are just earthen mounds though majority of it (about 6,250 kms.) is in brick and mortar. As per the latest survey, the Wall runs through 8,850 kms. and many parts of them are slowly being pilfered to be used for local building material. Although started in 202 BC by the first Chinese Emperor, little of that remains and the one we see today was rebuilt and enhanced in the 13th-16th centuries by different dynasties to keep the Mongols at bay and use it as a tax control point for goods passing thru the Silk Road. Needless to say, it is an awesome feat specially when you come face-to-face with it and try to grasp the difficulty and manhours spent in building such an enormous structure!

We went to visit the Wall in Mutianyu, 75 kms. north of Beijing which has one of the most well-preserved sections for tourists. Luckily, it wasn’t a crowded day so we had many parts of it just to ourselves as we trekked through some 2 kms. passing by several watch towers. The height of the pathway itself was 5-6 meters off the ground and looking down the meter-high crenellations made it quite a vertiginous experience. Several parts were really steep even if there were steps to aid you in the climb. As you watch the wall go on and on matching the contour of the mountainous ridge, you can’t help but think of it as a gigantic dragon slowly moving across the land.

It just seems to go on and on….
You take a gondola ride up the main section of the wall from the entrance below where you buy your tickets.
Just a few more steps after this and you’re on the Wall itself!
This is where you enter.
The path undulates like a rollercoaster.
Inside one of the watch towers.
Either way you go, it goes up and down.
Fog starts to move in from afar.
One of the vantage points where you see large sections of the stone dragon.
This was one steep walk!
Looking out one of the crenellations where archers of yore must have fired their arrows at the rampaging Mongols!
Luckily, there were no hordes of tourists!
A curving section.
Close-up of a watch tower.
The view from below.
Just look at all that greenery!
Imagine yourself a guard watching this section on your patrol…..

This was one isolated part of our walk.

The “We were there” shot! 🙂

Checking out the Wall’s history at the entrance wall.
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