You must have heard about or seen or used the world’s longest, the world’s tallest or the world’s highest bridge. These are certainly marvelous engineering feats. But, have you ever seen or heard of naturally formed bridges? Arches maybe, but useable natural rock bridges? Probably not.
You will be surprised to know that natural rock bridges exist in China. They are just 12 kilometers north of Wulong in Chongqing Municipality, China. And they number not just one or two, but a total of three and are in the near vicinity of each other. This complex, called the Three Natural Bridges National Geopark, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Origin of the three bridges
The three natural bridges are named ‘Sky Dragon’, ‘Green Dragon’ and ‘Black Dragon’. Their origin of these amazing natural stone bridges is interesting. These started off as caves until the ground underneath collapsed, giving rise to sinkholes, forming the spectacular limestone arches. You can still see the calcite formations on some of the walls of these bridges. These three natural bridges in Wulong also contains waterfalls that drop to the floor below from high up.
Discovering the bridges
For these three natural bridges, China has done much to promote tourism in the area. Once you park your car in the car park on the rim, you can take a glass elevator down into the gorge. From where the elevator leaves you, a flight down the stairs brings you to the entrance of the first natural rock bridge, the Sky Dragon bridge.
Sky Dragon bridge: This is the largest of the three bridges and is double-arched. The first arch has a span of 160 feet and a height of 310 feet. The span of the second arch is 100 feet and height, 210 feet.
Green Dragon bridge: The second bridge is the Green Dragon that lies in between the two other bridges. It is a short walk downstream from Sky Dragon bridge. It spans 80 feet and is almost 330 feet high. Its walking path connects the other two bridges.
Black Dragon bridge: This third bridge is again a short walk away from the second bridge. It spans 60 feet and is about 380 feet high. From the roof of its cavernous opening, a waterfall drops directly to the floor and almost turns into mist before hitting the ground.
Of these three natural bridges, the Sky Dragon Bridge has been made famous by the Chinese film ‘Curse of the golden flower’, starring Chow-Yun Fat and Gong Li. It was shot in this location in 2006. The movie set, comprising Chinese style houses, built for this film can still be seen.
The visit to the three natural bridges is ticketed. You also have to pay for the glass elevator, though the stairway is free. Van service is now available for visiting the three natural bridges that will pick you up at the gorge and transport you to the car park for a fee.