Guoliang Tunnel is one of the most famous tunnels in the world. It’s 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) long, 5 metres (16 ft) tall and 4 metres (13 ft) wide, located high in the Taihang Mountains of the Henan Province, China. It’s one of the famous Chinese tunnel roads. Road requires monk-like focus to drive. Even one mistake, locals say, means big trouble in little China.
The tunnel, carved along the side of and through a mountain, opened to traffic on May 1, 1977, it's quite a tourist attraction, giving the village a little too much unwanted attention, but some very welcome revenue. It took five years to build it. 4,000 hammers, 12 tons of steel... and quite a lot of chisels: This is how one of the most dangerous tunnels in the world was carved by just 13 villagers in remote China.
Before its construction in 1972, the only access to civilization of the village of Guoliang, located high in the Taihang Mountains of the Henan Province, was some steep, narrow stairs embedded in the mountainside called the “Sky Ladder”, a treacherous, slippery climb even for the most nimble and sure-footed of the villagers or their rare company callers. Thirteen villagers headed by their chief, Shen Mingxin began the project, but several died during construction, so the others continued relentlessly. It took five years to finish this spooky tunnel.
Nowadays, the tunnel is an extremely scenic route and is a key destination on the Chinese tourism map as it became a tourist attraction when China opened its borders to international tourists. The tunnel is pretty scary with 30 windows of various sizes and shapes and it has been dubbed as the road that does not tolerate any mistakes. Most accidents in the tunnel are primarily caused by the neglect of the traveller. The tunnel, which sits 15 feet high and 12 feet wide, is only realistically enough for one-way traffic. Even with a smaller sedan the road spares only a few feet on either side as you pass through the tunnel.
In Turkey there’s a road called Kemaliye Taş Yolu, probably more spectacular than this road, but less famous. It’s located in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, and it includes several tunnels on a gravel surface. The Turkish road is extreme, bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters unprotected by guardrails.
In China there are several tunnel roads carved into the mountains. Guoliang Tunnel is the most famous, but some of them are extremely more dangerous. The most shocking one is called Kunshan Tunnel Road. The road takes vehicles from 1,000 to 1,300 meters above sea level, through a series of tunnels. The tunnel is 1.6km long. It’s a single land and includes 6 small tunnels and is usually closed in winters, so the best time to visit is from May to November.
This road has been heralded as one of the most spectaculars roads in the world by the dangerousroads.org users. It’s only wide enough for the very slow, careful passing of oncoming cars. This is made terrifying by the fact that the road was built on the path of least resistance. The tunnel twists, turns and dips in unpredictable places, enough to leave any driver white-knuckled in terror at what could be coming at them around the slippery blind spot of a bend.
The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. There are over 30 “windows” of different shapes and sizes overlooking the gully that were used by the builders to remove rubble from the tunnel, but now allow light into it. Some windows are round and some are square, and they range from dozens of meters long to standard-window-size. The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). While the view from the tunnel’s “windows” are definitely exquisite and unforgettable, the Guoliang Tunnel Road is known for being a “road that does not tolerate any mistakes.” While the road has yet to endanger motorists for its DIY construction, plenty of drivers have met their end because of neglect and by underestimating the difficulty of the road. When driving through this tunnel road, make sure that you are prepared and can deftly handle the vehicle you are driving. Remember, even the most minor of mistakes can endanger your life, and instead of an unforgettable trip through a feat of local workers, you might end up in a hospital, or worse.
Pic: OTW Adventure