Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko National Park Arch Gate at the park_s east entrance, Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko National Park Arch Gate at the park’s east entrance, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Known as Karenko during the Japanese occupation from1895 to the end of World War II, Hualien is now the largest municipality on Taiwan’s east coast.  Many visitors use Hualien as a base for exploring the natural and man-made wonders of Taiwan’s most popular attraction, Taroko National Park.  Just a short drive from the city, the park encompasses peaceful grottoes, waterfalls, steep marble-faced canyons festooned with dangling ferns, and miles of hiking trails.  A series of palm-lined, seaside parks make for pleasant strolling, while Chingszu Temple and the city’s Stone Sculptural Museum offer cultural appeal.

 

Entering Swallow Grotto, a particularly beautiful section of the gorge, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

Entering Swallow Grotto, a particularly beautiful section of the gorge, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Looking through a natural “window” in the wall of the gorge wall at a portion of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

Looking through a natural “window” in the wall of the gorge at a portion of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

Widely regarded as Taiwan’s most extraordinary natural attraction, Taroko National Park is known for its sheer marble cliffs, deep chasms, winding tunnels and the Liwu River, which continues to carve its way through the stony landscape.  This singular topography originated over 230 million years ago with the formation of coral reefs in the tropical shallows of present-day Taiwan; over time, the coral was transformed into limestone, then into marble by the intense heat and pressure of geotectonic movements.  Major highlights in the park include Yanzihkou (Swallow Grotto), a particularly beautiful section of Taroko Gorge; Changchun (Eternal Spring), Shrine, a beautiful cliff-side shrine with a gushing spring that overlooks the Liwu River, dedicated to the 450 workers who lost their lives building the highway; and the Shakadang Trail, which reveals Tung trees and vibrant aquamarine pools strewn with boulders.

 

The walkway, carved through the gorge, is visible on the right side of this photograph of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

The walkway, carved through the gorge, is visible on the right side of this photograph of Swallow Grotto, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

This singular topography originated over 230 million years ago with the formation of coral reefs in the tropical shallows of present-day Taiwan; over time, the coral was transformed into

This singular topography originated over 230 million years ago with the formation of coral reefs in the tropical shallows of present-day Taiwan; over time, the coral was transformed into limestone, then into marble by the intense heat and pressure of geotectonic movements, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

As we went further into Seallow Grotto, the gorge narrowed; the walkway is visible on the left side of the photographs, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

As we went further into Swallow Grotto, the gorge narrowed; the walkway is visible on the left side of the photographs, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

After hiking in Swallow Grotto, we drove to this bridge in the park where we hiked up the hillside to a Buddhist temple and pagoda (following photographs), Taroko National Park, Hualien,

After hiking in Swallow Grotto, we drove to this bridge in the park where we hiked up the hillside to a Buddhist temple and pagoda (following photographs), Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

A golden Buddha seated upon four elephants outside the outbuilding of the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

A golden Buddha seated upon four elephants outside the outbuilding of the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan; note the “backwards” swastikas on the side of the building predate the Nazis taking the historic Buddhist symbol and reversing it for the symbol of the National Socialist [German Worker’s] Party of Germany in the 1930s

A beautiful pagoda set in the forest next to the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

A beautiful pagoda set in the forest next to the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

A Golden Buddha with the mountains of Taroko National Park as a backdrop, Hualien, Taiwan

A beautiful pagoda set in the forest next to the Buddhist Temple in Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

After a delicious Chinese banquet luncheon at the Silks Palace Taroko Hotel, we concluded our visit to Taroko National Park with a 90-minute hike along the riverside Shakadang Trail that

After a delicious Chinese banquet luncheon at the Silks Palace Taroko Hotel, we concluded our visit to Taroko National Park with a 90-minute hike along the riverside Shakadang Trail that was previously known as the Mysterious Valley Trail, revealing vibrant aquamarine pools strewn with boulders; Hualien, Taiwan

 

The rock formations along the trail were beautiful, reflecting millions of years of Mother Nature shifting the “ground” that now formed the rock walls of the gorge, Taroko National P

The rock formations along the trail were beautiful, reflecting millions of years of Mother Nature shifting the “ground” that now formed the rock walls of the gorge, Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

 

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