Heaven really is a place on earth, but the path you need to take is long and hard.
Located in the Hunan province, Tianmen Shan or Heaven’s Gate Mountain claims to have not just the Stairway to Heaven but also “Heaven’s Door”. Tianmen Cave is the highest naturally formed arch in the world and it sits right on top of 999 steps.
To get there, you need to ride the world’s longest cable ride for 28 minutes and 24,500 feet off the ground! Scared of heights? You can still get to the mountains by bus on 99 Bends, one of China’s most famous roads which turns – you guessed it – 99 times.
Once you’ve gotten off the gondola or the bus, you need to take a cliff-hanging glass walkway called the Walk of Faith (who picks these names?) or one of the other two lesser-known, but equally terrifying, glass paths. No one said that the path to ascension is easy!
Speaking of ascension, the mountain is actually home to a Buddhist temple. Tianmenshan Temple, formerly Lingquan Temple, was built in 870 A.D. but was destroyed by the war in the 1940s. It’s said to be the Buddhist center of Hunan and would be a great place to have a pit stop before climbing the rest of the mountain.
After exploring the temple and taking pictures at the glass walkways, the only thing left for you to do is to climb 999 steps up the stairway, a difficult feat that takes about 30 minutes. Unless you want bragging rights for having “climbed the stairway to heaven” and “knocked on heaven’s door”, you’re better off staying on the ground with the rest of us.
Thinking of adding this to the bucket list? Watch this 4k video then decide!