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Eighteen Arhats Mountain Nature Reserve

Eighteen Arhats Mountain Nature Reserve

◎Written by Chen Ting-fang

◎English translation by Hou Ya-ting

◎Photos by Zeng Sin-yao

◎Photos courtesy of Eighteen Arhats Mountain Cultural Association

 

 

The valley beside Arhat Mountain

Eighteen Arhats Mountain Eighteen Arhats Mountain is Liouguei district's most famous landmark. The shape of Eighteen Arhats Mountain resembles the eighteen disciples of Buddha. Laonong River runs alongside Eighteen Arhats Mountain.

 The Eighteen Arhats Mountain Nature Reserve has a long history that goes back to Japanese colonialism, which lasted in Taiwan from 1895 to 1945. From 1927 to 1937, five tunnels were constructed to facilitate Liouguei's lucrative camphor logging industry. In 1943, a sixth tunnel was completed. In 1990, the Forestry Bureau turned the Eighteen Arhats Mountain and its tunnels (which were now no longer in use) into a 193-hectare nature reserve. The region has an amazing variety of flora, including the Ania hookeriana, Common Lophatherum, Auatic Panic Grass, and Capparis floribunda.

Eighteen Arhats Mountain

 Ms. Jhong Cai-niang is a tour guide that knows the region very well. She is an expert at presenting the area's spectacular scenery and the Eighteen Arhats Mountain Nature Reserve. She explains that there are actually more than forty mountains, with some of the most interesting topography that includes a U-shaped valley and a dry ravine.

 She also gives tours of the disused tunnels that she says are always cool, even during the hot summers. Inside the tunnel are gravel stones typical of the local geology. She also explained how many years of rains had created calcite rocks that have rings similar to trees. For approximately twenty years, no one visited the tunnels so pacific swallows, bats, and other species have set up habitats in the fourth, fifth and sixth tunnels. Ms. Jhong Cai-niang asks visitors to respect nature and remain silent when visiting the tunnels.

Ms. Jhong Cai-niang (right) doing a tunnel tour

Rock rings that are similar to rings found in trees Eighteen Arhats Mountain Nature Reserve is definitely worth a visit. However, the nature reserve can only be entered accompanied by a guide. Applications for tours must be made at least five days before. Visitors can apply for permits online at https://pa.forest.gov.tw/ and book a guide by calling 0905-635-652. Tours only offered in Mandarin, Taiwanese and Hakkanese. They cost NT$1600 for any number of participants (with a maximum of fifteen).