Mountain life is harsh and at many times, man is at war with nature itself. One of the main reasons mountains have poor communications with the rest of the world is the road distance that makes it tough for the people to commute. If there is a large dwelling nearby, the authorities can sanction the construction of a good road network. But, those of us who are familiar with much of the mountainous territory in Asia, many villages lack the luxury of a road and some even have to rely on zip lines to communicate with the rest of the world. This Chinese village deep in the Taihang mountains in Hunan province was one of these areas with a poor road network and little government priority.
So what these villagers did is a remarkable feat of engineering considering the tools they had at their disposal; 13 of them constructed this 1,200-meter long tunnel that over the course of 5 years that ensures easier and faster way of transportation between the mountain top village and the area below. Previously only a small zig zag hiking track was present that was a very challenging and strenuous ordeal. To obtain the construction materials, the villagers not only had to work hard, but they also had to sell a lot of their belongings including precious cattle that is a fundamental source of livelihood at the top.
The 1.2-kilometer road was made almost entirely by hand, and one of the thirteen laborers who worked here died working here which indicates the sheer toughness of the working conditions and the terrain. The final passageway was completed by the villagers in 1977, and it stands a proud 5 meters high and 4 meters wide which is enough for a small truck to go by and take valuable cargo up there. The beautiful village Guoliang has also become a popular tourist destination as well as resulting in much-needed income for the poor families. The road will also help to expand the trade capabilities of the village. The poor crew had to work for no wages and advanced just 1 meter every three days.
However, claustrophobic drivers aren’t advised to go there. The path appears congested in between with no openings in patches. The workers have then made several window openings to let more daylight out, but it is still an eerie place to drive especially at night. Nonetheless, it is an incredible work of engineering and a tale of pure hard work and perseverance. Hats off, engineers!