Mural Hill

Mural Hill
Mural Hill

Mural Hill, also known as Nine Horses Fresco Hill, is an attraction you can never miss if you visit Li River. It is located on the west bank of Li River, about 37 miles (60 km) from Guilin and rather near from Xingping Town. Facing the broad and peaceful water is a big and steep stone cliff which looks like a huge painted screen. Backed by mountains and consisting of five peaks, Mural Hill has weathered rocks in yellow, white, black, grey and green colors. Looking from a distance the mottled cliff face resembles a huge piece of mural with images of nine horses in various poses.

Taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is more convenient but less funny because you cannot go ashore and have to take pictures at the top of the cruise ship. By contrast, taking a raft is more sensible. Mural Hill is only 2.5 miles (4 km) away from Xingping Town in Yangshuo County, so independent travelers can also go hiking from Xingping and savor the beauty of Li River. Strolling or taking a raft along the river beside verdurous hills with fantastic legends, one will feel that as though he were wandering in a landscape painting. And that’s why Mural Hall always appeals to visitors.


Nine Horses

The hill is called Jiu Ma Hua Shan in Chinese, which means a mural hill with nine horses. According to a legend, at one time these nine horses were raised in Heaven and attended by Monkey King, a fictitious character in China’s classical novel. However, Monkey King was not happy with his job and he often went back to Huaguoshan Mountain where he lived on Earth and left the heavenly horses unattended. One time, nine of them escaped to the world. They wandered lightheartedly in the verdurous mountains where there was clean water and blooming flowers, they enjoyed the scenery so much that they never came back. Later, they had to hide in a cave to escape a god from the Heaven that was sent to bring them back. Unfortunately the horses were discovered by the god while they bathing in Li River at dawn, and in a hurry to escape they ran into the cliff side, where they were turned into stone images as a punishment for not getting back.

Another legend goes that nine horses were seen to be drinking water in the Li River by a painter, the painter wanted to draw this scene down. As a result, the horses were frightened and ran into the cliff in a hurry and confusion. A little bit inconceivable those legends may sound, but they do add mystery to the enchanting sceneries, making people all the more engrossed by the magical working of nature.

The gestures of the horses differ from one to another. One image may be of a horse running wild, while others may be standing still, neighing, browsing or drinking water. It is not that easy to identify all of the nine horses for it requires keen eyesight and a rich imagination. A folk ballad claims that the one who can identify all nine horses will be Number One Scholar, the one who came out first in the highest imperial examination in ancient China.

The former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai also visited there in 1960s and it was reported that he was able to recognize and identify all of the nine horses. When the General Chen Yi asked Zhou how many horses he can identify, Zhou said eighteen. Do you know why there are eighteen of them? That is because nine horses are on the wall and others are on the water surface.

Behind the Mural Hill is a gorge suitable for drifting. There is a drop of 590 feet (180 m) and the whole course is as long as 2.2 miles (about 3.5 km), resembling a silk ribbon winding its way through the valleys. Riding on the rubber dinghy against the torrent is certainly of much fun!


How to get to Mural Hill

 From Guilin: Take a Li River cruise ship from Guilin Zhujiang Dock to Yangshuo, which will pass Mural Hill on the way; otherwise, take a bus from Guilin General Bus Station to Yangdi Dock first, and then hire a bamboo raft, which costs CNY118 for an adult and around CNY40 for a child below 4.3 feet (1.3m).

 From Yangshuo: First one can take a bus from Yangshuo Bus Station to Xingping Town. After arrival, take a bamboo raft at Xingping Dock and then drift upriver. It takes nearly an hour and costs CNY80 per adult and CNY40 for each kid below 4.3 feet (1.3m). Hikers can walk from Xingping to the Mural Hill, which takes around 1.5 hours.