Have you heard about Rainbow Mountains in China - the colourful geological wonder?
The mountains are made up of several layers of different coloured sandstone and minerals pressed together for over 24 million years. The rocks of Zhangye Danxia are colourful, smooth, sharp and several hundred meters tall. In fact, it looks similar to a layer cake with hues of maroon, magenta and lemon-coloured stone. The action of wind, water erosion and rain over a span of several million years have given it extraordinary shapes, including pillars, towers and ravines with varying colours, sizes and patterns. A vast area with seven differentiations of colour can be seen in the endless valleys here.
Tourists feel that it is an impressionistic painting when they see this landscape for the first time. The prominent colour of the landscape is red that resembles fire. It gets its red colour from iron oxide coating and cementation in between the sandstone grains. Some of the mountains also have stripes that look like ribbons.
In 2009, this site was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zhangye Danxia was voted as one of the most beautiful Danxia landform areas in China by a panel of reporters from 34 major media outlets. The Chinese National Geography magazine chose Zhangye Danxia as one of the "six most beautiful landforms" in China.
The best months of the year to visit the Rainbow Mountains are from June to September. Moderate rainfall in the summer can cool the soaring temperatures, deepening the colours of the mountain, thereby enhancing its beauty even more. The best time of the day to visit this majestic sight is in the evening when the colours change.
The mountains have become a top tourist attraction for Zhangye. A series of access roads and boardwalks have been built to help visitors explore these fascinating rock formations. In fact, during the peak tourist season, the location receives a footfall of 20,000 tourists every day.