The Stone Forest has unique karst topography which is one of the best of its kind within China. There are six scenic spots in the Stone Forest: the Greater Stone Forest, the Lesser Stone Forest, the Naigu Stone Forest (also known as the Heisong Cave), the Zhiyun Cave, the Long Lake, the Da Dieshui Waterfall and the Qifeng Cave. The stelae and the stalagmites are erecting abruptly from the ground forming a magnificent stone forest. Looking from afar, the stone forest looks amazingly like a mighty army of thousands of soldiers. Strangely the stones stay stainless and keep themselves away from dust and dirt seemingly naturally. Walking through the stone forest was quite an adventure and an unforgettable experience.
The Greater and Lesser stone forests are the largest and the most beautiful clusters among all. There are a good variety of conformations stelae, cliffs and apices, some of which look like phoenixes, elephants and rhinoceros.
The Naigu Stone Forest is situated 13 kilometers north of the main Stone Forest. Naigu means “black” in Yi language. Thus in the Naigu Stone Forest, the stones look like rough ocean with terrifying roaring waves covered by dark black clouds.
On the other hand, the beautiful Long Lake lies silently beside the Weize Village, about 15 kilometers from the town center. It is such a heavenly scene of a peaceful lake surrounded by greenery and rolling hills.
The Da Dieshui Waterfall pours down from the cliff, looking like a piece of milky silk hanging from the cliff. It is such a splendid and dramatic scene.
The rich folk customs and interesting legends of the local ethnic group Yi are equally charming if not more than the scenic attractions of the Stone Forest. There are the tale of Ashima, the colorful Sani (a tribal group within the Yi ethnicity) embroideries, the ancient and mysterious Torch Festival (every year on June 24th of the lunar calendar) as well as the passionate and joyful Sani dances all make the place more attractive.
The Tale of Ashima
Somewhere in the Lesser Stone Forest, there is a pinnacle resembling a slim and beautiful girl. Seen on the side, together with another stone formation, the pinnacle appears to be a girl carrying a basket on her back. And this is the famous Ashma, the heroine of a legend that has been popular among Sani from generations to generations.
The tale goes like this: Once upon a time there was a rich and ruthless landlord in Sani called Rebubala. He arbitrarily decided that he would marry the local beauty Ashma. However Ashma and Ahei were deeply in love with each other at the time. She fearlessly refused the marriage. Rebubala was very furious and threatened to kidnap Ashma. Ahei became very anxious. One day when he rushed home from a remote livestock farm, he found that his beloved Ashima had been kidnapped three days ago while he was away.
Ahei was upset but he quickly put himself together and rushed to Rebubala's home to rescure Ashma. He fought against Rebubala and managed to get them both out of Rebubala's place safely.
The love birds were over the moon; they rode on their horse heading home with much hope for the future at heart. They continued their journey crossing mountains, valleys and jungles, even when it became dark and windy. Suddenly a thundering rainstorm came without notice. The night was so dark, the wind was so strong, and the storm was so heavy that they couldn’t see, couldn’t hear each other and lost each other in the middle of the storm. But luckily when the storm was over, the flood retreated, they found each other. While they were so lost and so worried about finding way home, a humming bee circling them for three times and said, "You can stay at my home for the night; and my home is in a cave." They had no choice but followed the bee into the Stone Forest.
It was extremely wet and slippery in the Stone Forest. Ashma slipped, grabbing a stone in for support, only to find that her hand was stuck on the stone. She was crying out for Ahei "Help me, Ahei. Please go and find a white cock and a white pig who can sacrifice to the stone god, so then I shall be freed."
Ahei was extremely upset and worried about Ashsma, but he had to be strong and set off to find the white cock and the white pig. After crossing 49 mountains and 81 rivers, he found a white cock. Continuously searching countless number of villages, he failed to find the white pig, but a black pig and dug a basket of white mud. Ahei mudded the pig and it turned into a white pig. He then started to return to the Stone Forest. After crossing the last mountain, he decided to sit down and have a rest. He was so tired that he fell asleep very quickly. He was awakened by heavy rain pouring down only to find that the white mud was washed away and the pig turned back to its own color.
With much desperation and sorrow, Ahei couldn't bring back the required white pig, and Ashma, his lover was stuck to the stone forever. It is the stone image that we see today.
Food: Tourists can taste the delicious local food such as the edible wild mushrooms and the Yi people's Tofu feast. Shopping: Tourists can buy the handicrafts, minority clothes and the folk paintings at Stone Forest. Accommodation: It is convenient to stay in Stone Forest.
There is a variety of hotels including Stone Forest Hotel, Stone Forest Guest House, Ashima Hotel. It is 60 yuan for a "Ashima" or "Ahei" guide (the guides are chosen from the Yi villages). Allow two hours for a visit to the Greater and Lesser stone forests. The cableway cost 15 yuan. The best time to visit the Stone Forest, especially the Greater and Lesser stone forests is September to May.