Steles at the Mouth of Kunlun Mountain

The mouth of Kunlun Mountain is 4,767 meters above sea level, and is besieged by snow-covered peaks. A dozen years ago, there was only one highway¡ª the Qinghai-Tibet Highway¡ªzigzagging through the desolate area. Today, however, such an arid scene has made way for a thriving atmosphere, with steles erected to form a forest, dotted with sculptures and holy stones.

Extending about 2,500 km and with an average elevation of 5,000 meters, the Kunlun Mountain range has, since the ancient times, been known as the ¡°forefather of all mountains.¡± The mouth of Kunlun Mountain, some 160 km from Golmud, is where all who intend to visit Tibet from Qinghai have to pass through.

The Qinghai-Tibet Highway enters the mouth and extends southward. Moving along the highway into the mouth of Kunlun Mountain, this writer found a forest of steles to the left, most singing the mountain¡¯s praises. They include one bearing an inscription under the title of Ode to Kunlun Mountain written by Marshal Chen Yi in June 1956 while in passage through the mountain mouth. It depicts his worship of and love for the mountain.

To the south of the forest of steles are two ¡°stoves¡± used by the locals to burn joss sticks or aromatic tree branches for auspicious smoke to pray for the blessing of the deities. Standing by them is a white piece of rock as large as a desk. Passing truck drivers halt to touch it, especially the inscribed four Chinese characters reading ¡°Holy Mountain of Kunlun¡± in order to seek a blessing.

Behind the forest of steles is a Map of China formed with numerous pieces of white stones, a map that measures 100 meters long and 60 meters wide. The capital of each province, municipality directly under the Central Government, autonomous region and special administrative region is marked by the erection of a piece of granite. Attracted by it, most people who pass by for a look. When they find the place from where they come, they do their best to find a small piece of stone and place it against the spot indicating their hometown.

In October 1995, Golmud City had a memorial tablet inscribed with Mouth of Kunlun Mountain erected at the spot. Flanking the stone tablet is a sculpture of Kirin to the left and another sculpture of an eagle to the right. On November 14, 2001, when an earthquake of 8.1 on the Richter scale hit the area, the tablet broke into two. What remains bears only the two characters reading ¡°Mouth of the Mountain.¡±

To the south of the memorial tablet is a tall Monument to Martyr Gyisang Soinam Dagyi, whose portrait is inlaid in the central lower part. He died a heroic death while fighting Tibetan antelopes hunters.

According to what is inscribed, the 40-year-old Gyisang, then Vice-Party Secretary of Zhiduo County in Qinghai Province, led a group of five into Hoh Xil in early January 1994. They went there to find ways and means for the effective protection of wildlife and mineral ores in the no-man¡¯s land.

In the heart of Hoh Xil, they intercepted two criminal groups composed of more than 20 people, who were there to hunt wildlife, and captured 21 rifles and some 10,000 ammunition, plus five trucks loaded with hides of Tibetan antelopes, which are subject to State first-class protection.

On January 18 when they were on their way back, some of the criminals rebelled and Gyisang was killed. A Qinghai-Tibet Railway Bridge being built at the spot 200-odd meters to the south of the monument will be named after him.

To the south of the Monument to Soinam Dagyi is a stone sculpture of the Hoh Xil State-class Nature Reserve. The sculpture is composed of three parts a pair of hand supporting the earth in the upper part; a square rock inscribed with ¡°Hoh Xil State-class Nature Reserve¡± in the middle; and the base covered with relief¡¯s of Tibetan antelopes subject to State protection.

To the south is another sculpture of an eagle ready to take off. Its base is a tree trunk-like rock carved with ¡°Performing the Bounden Duty of Mankind to Protect the Eco-Environment.¡± Below that is the carved record of the geographical location and a brief introduction to the nature reserve, which covers an area of 83,000 square km.

Behind the memorial tablet of ¡°The Mouth of Kunlun Mountain¡± is a large horizontal tablet filling viewers with a simple and solemn feeling. It was erected to mourn five heroes who died when climbing the 6,178-meter Yuzho Peak of Kunlun Mountain. They include Wang Hailiang and Ren Yukun, hailing from two amateur mountaineering teams in Guangdong and Beijing. In the eyes of the climbers, Yuzho Peak is the ideal place for amateur climbers to test their skills. In May 2000, however, poor organization and a sudden change in the weather combined to lead to their death.

Standing at the mouth of Kunlun Mountain on July 25, 2002, I gained the feeling of admiration for all those who dare to reach the mountain mouth at 5,000 meters.

Undulating snow-covered Kunlun Mountain.

Monument to Martyr Gyisang Soinam Dagyi.

Monument to five martyrs who died climbing the Yuzhub Peak.

Park of the steles.