Nanjing Earthen Dwellings

Though group tour has lost its popularity among tourists, it is the most convenient way for a one-day trip to earthen dwellings from Xiamen.

Why group tour?

Reason 1: As attractions in Nanjing Earthen Dwellings are scattered, free independent tourists have to transfer frequently and find it hard in time control

Reason 2: Nanjing Earthen Dwellings is not only a scenic spot, but a place with history and culture. It is hard to appreciate their beauty without knowing their stories. In a group tour, tour guides can enlighten you with interesting stories. 

Come and follow me with the trip to Nanjing Earthen Dwellings!

Stop 1: Tianluokeng Earthen Dwellings

Tianluokeng Earthen Dwellings consist of five buildings (1 rectangular, 3 circular and 1 elliptical). Rectangular Buyun Lou in the middle and circular Hechang Lou in the upper right were built in 1796 during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing in the Qing Dynasty, and Zhenchang, Ruiyun and Wenchang were built later.

Aerial view from the viewing deck on the mountain

Surrounded by mountains, five buildings sit well-spaced. When seen from atop mountains, they look like blooming plum flowers on the earth, or UFO floating down from the sky, making every tourist here amazed and fascinated.

 The origin of its name is unknown with opinions varied. According to the genealogy of Huang in Tianluokeng, a man named after Huang moved here from Yongding and started his legendary life. Huang's Family Temple here enshrines memorial tablets of their ancestors, among which Huang ranks first. His tomb, located in "Wugengliao" 2 km away from Tianluokeng, embraces the worship of local clansmen during every Qingming Festival. 


It is worth mentioning that not all houses in earth/wood structure are called earthen buildings. To be specific, "Cuo" for one-storey buildings, "fang" for two-stories, and earthen buildings for three or more stories.

These buildings are still occupied.  

Look, a Hakka family here just finished a marriage ceremony

Stop 2: Yuchang Lou

Yuchang Lou is a circular earthen building built at the turning of Yuan and Ming Dynasty, only a dozen years later than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Yuchang Lou has been nicknamed the "zigzag building". This five-storey building has 270 rooms in total. The reason why it is nicknamed "zigzag building" is that columns  in corridors in the third floor is inclined to the right, with a largest inclination angle of 15°, while columns  in the fourth floor is inclined to the left by a same angle.


Yuchang Lou boasts five storeys, each measuring 18.2 meter high, with 50 rooms on each floor, 270 in total. In fact, there are only 269 rooms in Yuchang Lou because local people prefer numbers like two, six, eight and nine, believing they are numbers of good omen. For this reason, the door in the first floor was shared by two rooms.

However, if you see columns of all floors as a whole, you will surprisingly find that columns in the first floor and those in the fifth floor stay on the same axis. Yuchang Lou, just like the new CCTV headquarters, is inclined in local structure, without any danger of falling down.


Different from Tianluokeng Earthen Dwellings, ancestral hall of Yuchang Lou was built in the middle of courtyard instead of The ancestral hall has three door, with front door for joyous occasions and praying ceremony, left door for wishing children healthy and successful, and right door for funerals.


 Stop 3: Hegui Lou

Hegui Lou, located in Pushan Village, Meilin Town, Nanjing County, only 53km away from Nanjing. Built in 1732 during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty, the 1,547 m2 Hegui Lou is the highest earthen structure in Nanjing. It was built on swampland with more than 200 pieces of pinewood for foundation, and still stands solid and stable after 200 years.


The foundation is a big feature of Hegui Lou. It is said that the an iron wire can go 5 meter deep in the school courtyard in Hegui Lou effortlessly, and carries signs of mud when taken out.


In the middle of courtyard sit three schools, with two famous boards hanging at the top of front door, one presented by Lin Sen, former president of Kuo Ming Tang, and one by Chen Shuren, former chairman of Overseas Affairs Commission of the Republic of China. Both were set by Jian Xianqiang.

The fifth floor is unoccupied for the lack of decoration in the past centuries. Hegui Lou houses only 300 + at its prime time. Amid decreasing occupants, the fifth floor was deserted for about 600 to 700 years.

When I left, I found a big crack on the exterior wall of a building, wondering if it leaked.

Stop 4: Taxia Village

Taxia Village, located in the west of Shuyang Town, Nanjing County, Zhangzhou, Fujian, is a famous hometown of overseas Chinese, and also one of first 15 Chinese Ancient Villages. Reputed as "Zhouzhang of Southern Fujian",

Taxia is a village built by the river with tranquil life.

Exterior of Zhang's Family Temple, a key cultural relic site under the state protection. The construction of family temple is closely related to fengshui (geomantic omen), and clansmen with outstanding achievements will have the privilege to set their tombstone outside the temple.

Leaving Taxia village, we took coach home and our trip concluded here.

In a word, a wonderful experience!