Monday, May 11, 2015
China’s Atlantis of the East
A real life version of Atlantis can be found at the bottom of a man-made lake in China. In 1959, the Chinese Government decided that they wanted to build a new hydro-electric power station and so made the call to build a huge lake in the Eastern Provence of Zhejiang. The lake was built between the Five Lion Mountain and the ancient city of Shi Cheng (Lion City), that was flooded in order to make way for the power station. The city has been untouched for over 50 years. A dive team has recently rediscovered the remains of the city but there are now plans to turn it into a dive site. Incredibly, the dive team said that nearly every structure in Lion City was still intact, even after lying underwater for over half a century!
The city was “rediscovered” in 2001 when the Chinese government organised an expedition to see what might remain of the lost metropolis. Interest and exploration increased further in 2011, when the Chinese National Geography published some never-before-seen photographs and illustrations hypothesising what the small city, which measured about half a square kilometre, might have looked like in its heyday.
Expeditions and underwater photographs have revealed that the city had five entrance gates, as opposed to the traditional four – with two western-facing gates as well as gates in the other cardinal directions. The city’s wide streets also have 265 archways, featuring preserved stonework of lions, dragons, phoenixes and historical inscriptions, some of which date back as far as 1777; the city walls are believed to date back to the 16th Century.
Despite being underwater, Shicheng has remained well preserved; the water actually protects it from wind, rain and sun erosion. Today, advanced divers can get up close to the ruins with dive operators such as Big Blue and Zi Ao Diving Club, which run regular dives between April and November.
Since the ruins have yet to be fully mapped, the dive is still considered “Exploratory” and is limited to divers with deep water, night and buoyancy experience.