Despite the controversies surrounding its construction, there is little debate that the Bailong Elevator provides a fantastic and one-of-a-kind experience for guests. It also gives an excellent opportunity to appreciate the area’s natural beauty while contributing to the local economy.
According to Guinness World Records, the Bailong elevator is the tallest outdoor lift or elevator in the world. Its name translates to “Hundred Dragons Elevator.” The entire building, which was carved into the side of a cliff in the Wilingyaun district of China, extends 326 meters up the cliff.
In 2015, the remarkable Bailong Elevator in Hunan, China, was recognized at an exceptional Guinness World Records certificate presentation event. Surprisingly, the structure’s topmost 171.4 meters are above ground and constructed directly into the quartzite cliff face. The elevator provides visitors with a spectacular view of the area’s karst monolith rock formations.
Let’s take a closer look at this incredible cliff-hugging elevator.
The elevator has been accessible to the public since May of 2002, and ascending the structure takes around a minute and a half. Each elevator vehicle can carry up to 4,900 kg, or approximately 50 persons. Each elevator vehicle transfers around 1,380 passengers each hour.
The world record holder
The record-breaking event was held in a park in Hunan province and was well-attended. It was also a time to celebrate the elevator’s recent speed increase. Mr. Rowan Simons, President of the Guinness Book Of world records for China, was present during the occasion. Mr. Simons was immediately impressed by the elevator’s cutting-edge technology.
“It is our honor to verify this incredible achievement, which not only provides a convenient transportation for tourists’ sightseeing but also saves time for supplying materials of scenic spots while also maximizing the protection of the local natural environment and ecological balance,” said Mr. Simons.
Construction of the Bailong Elevator
The elevator construction began in 1999 and was finished in 2002 at a total cost of roughly $17 million (120 million yuan), which is nearly a steal.
However, the concept was not without criticism at the time. The entire region is a World Heritage Site, and environmentalists were outraged by the project’s ideas. Advocates were worried that the region already has a high saturation of tourists, over 5 million per year. An additional increase in attractions in the region would not improve the environment.
The entire region was initially included in the UNESCO list to conserve its natural beauty. However, supporters maintained that the elevators would protect mountain paths from further harm caused by vehicles.
Lift shafts and tunnels were crafted from a quartz sandstone column selected from hundreds in the site. The lift vehicles are also equipped with earthquake sensors, allowing them to be evacuated rapidly in the event of a disaster.
The elevator was temporarily stopped down shortly after it opened in 2002, reportedly for safety reasons rather than environmental ones. It was quickly reopened in 2003 and is now a popular tourist destination for individuals with a reckless disregard for heights.
The elevator’s full height of 154 meters is visible in mountain walls, with the remaining 172 meters exposed steel derrick and other elements. Three distinct tourist elevators run in parallel on the lift. The vehicles move at around three m/s and transport 4,000 passengers per hour if all three are in use.
The Bailong Elevator Controversy
Despite objections to its development, Chinese officials maintain that the construction has served to preserve rather than harm the region. They argue that the project’s Environmental Study found that completion would assist conserve the world heritage site.
There used to be many hotels, guesthouses, and other types of housing in the region. These have all since been destroyed and removed, which, it is said, reduces the environmental effect during high seasons. Visitors no longer need to stay overnight because the elevator has drastically decreased the journey time of tourists in the region.
“I disagree with the professionals. Elevators, they claim, will damage the mountain. But, as we all know, the mountain is lifeless. Many steel frameworks and roof bolts were placed while digging the tunnels. They have the ability to solidify the mountain. If there is a little earthquake, the mountain will be less likely to collapse than others. So, can you say it’s not protective?” – Sun Delong (Bailong Elevator Manager).
On the other hand, opponents had a radically different opinion on the idea while it was being built. The excavation of tunnels and shafts and the placement of steel buildings in a world-historic site violate the concept of preserving natural beauty.
Because the area’s geology is quartz sandstone, huge development projects should be prevented, and tourist levels should be kept to a minimum to help protect it. The place is and was a famous beautiful area that is already overrun with tourists. Even if hotels were gone, such a distinctive architecture would have a negative influence on the area.
The elevator vehicles are entirely glass, allowing guests to enjoy amazing panoramic views of the region’s remarkable beauty. If you like that kind of thing, you may also scare yourself out of your brains by staring down as you rise or fall. Rangger Elevator Company from Germany developed and built the main assembly.
The elevator enables passengers to “sightsee up the mountain during the day and remain down the mountain at night in one day.” It is highly convenient for tourists since it saves them from a very exhausting walk through the alternative mountain routes. Furthermore, why walk when you can go in style?
Despite the controversies surrounding its construction, there is no question that the structure provides tourists with a fantastic and one-of-a-kind experience. It also gives an excellent opportunity to appreciate the area’s natural beauty while contributing to the local economy.
Have you ever been to the Bailong Elevator? Did you dare to glance down while using it? Tell us about your encounters with this amazing structural marvel in the comments section below.