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ake Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) is nestled high in the Tianshan Mountains, 115 kilometers (71 miles) west of Urumqi in Xinjiang, China. The area is one of the few unspoiled places in China. The crystal water reflects the snow-topped peaks, fluffy white clouds, and blue sky. This combined with the lush spruce forest covered shores create a truly breathtaking view. To the east of the lake stands the Bogda Peak – the highest peak in the eastern part of the Tian Shan Mountain, which is capped by snow. It is an alpine drift lake shaped in the Quaternary Glacier period. In a clear day, the snow-capped Bogda Peak glistens in the sun and finely contrasts with blue lake water to form fabulous scenery. Together with the steep forested hills and high meadows around, a full picture of heavenly beauty is presented before your eyes. The snow-capped Bogda Peak is the highest in the area and towers over the eastern portion of the lake. This was originally formed by an alpine drift taking place during the Quaternary Glacier period (covering the past two million years). On a clear day, the snow-capped Bogda Peak glistens in the sun and forms a vivid contrast with the blue water below. Add in the steep forested hills and high meadows and it makes a paradise on earth. A local legend says that the Heavenly Empress would hold a gala at this lake whenever a local peach tree bore fruit. As this only happened about

Tianchi Lake

Excuse me while

I kiss the sky At this heavenly lake, white clouds drift while the mountains reach the blue sky. |56| India-China Chronicle  March-April 2011

once every 3000 years, the banquets were understandably grand affairs. All the mortals would gather for such a long-awaited occasion, making the lake area into something of a Little Heaven, hence the name, Heavenly Lake (Tianchi). The ride to Tianchi Lake is only a three-hour drive from Urumqi. It passes a giant wind-farm, wide rivers, and mountain pastures. From the chair lift ride up to the lake you can see a number of camps lining the valley below. The

lake itself is also a favorite hiking and camping area. Many other entertaining options are available such as strolling around the lake, riding electric carts, or taking a boat ride. But the best aspect is definitely the marvelous beauty of the entire area and the abundant places for gorgeous photo opportunities. As if the natural beauty of Heavenly Lake were not enough, legend adds a mysterious touch. It is said that the West Queen (Xi Wang Mu) entertained King Mu of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100B.C.-771B.C.) at the Lake. The West Queen fell in love with the king and asked him in her poem, ‘The white clouds drift while the mountains reach the blue sky. Passing thousands of mountains, crossing ten thousands of rivers, you come to us from a faraway place. If you are still strong and fine, would you like to come back to us again?’ The king answered in his poem, ‘After I go back to central China and lead the people to a prosperous life, I will come to you again.’ We do not know why the king never returned. Only the placid lake and the silent mountains witnessed the lovesickness of the West Queen.  India-China Chronicle |57|

Tianchi Lake-mar-apr2011