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Devil’s City of Gobi Desert in Yadan National Geological Park

by Sankalan Baidya
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Devil’s City of Gobi Desert! How does that sound? May be you will think of it as a home for some dark cult artists or maybe you will vision it as a mythological land appeared out of nowhere. Whatever you think, the surreal Devil’s City of Gobi Desert is very much real! It exists.

Walking through the Gobi will expose you to the sight of seemingly endless ocean of sands mixed with a deadly brew of blazing heat and killer winds. Once thrown in this daunting place, you may lose all hopes of surviving. You may just think of it as a barren land of sands where no living soul ever thrived. However, if you are lucky, you may just catch a glimpse of something – something mysterious! A medieval city popping out of nowhere sitting there in somber silence waiting for an unsuspecting prey to enter within its boundaries.

You may just think of it as a vivid 3D representation of your panicky mind or you may even end up thinking of it as a mirage at a distance. But wait! Before you just ignore what you see as a delusion of your brain, you should consider walking up to it. What you see at a distance is very much real and it goes by the name Devil’s City.

As you move closer and closer, the image you see will keep changing. First glance will tell you that it is a medieval city. A bit closer and you will think of it as a city of cults and then a bit closer and you will see it as a museum of stone mounds and enigmatic structures.

The Truth Behind Devil’s City of Gobi Desert

The Devil’s City of Gobi Desert may at first glance look like a medieval castle crafted by humans. You can see huge stones, ravines and earthen mounds that look like animals, castles, human sculptures or even demons with fanged muzzles. Entering the landscape will expose you to weird sounds – sounds that resemble to wailing, moaning, singing and shrill crying. You will immediately get chills and the first thought that will cross your mind is that you have entered the city of the devil.

Fortunately, this landscape is not a mythological place and neither is it a medieval castle built by humans. What you see is totally natural and very ancient. Just how ancient? As ancient as a 100 million years!

The land you will be standing at is known as Yadan National Geological Park located in the Gobi Desert of China. This park is located at a distance of 115 miles or 185 kilometers northwest from Dunhuang City in Gansu. The park covers a total area of 12,355 acres or 50 square kilometers. From north to south, the park stretches over a length of 25 kilometers and from east to west, the width of the park is 2 kilometers.

The sculptures and the structures you see at the Devil’s city are known as Yadan landforms. The term Yadan literally means steep hill and it originates in Uyghur language. All the landforms that you see at the park are results of millions of years of erosions caused by natural elements like winds, floods, rains etc.

Hold on! Floods and rains? That’s a desert we are talking about right? Of course! We are talking of Gobi Desert but about 100 million years ago, the place was not a desert at all. It was actually a freshwater lake – a massive one. Just like every other freshwater lake (with the exception of Lake Baikal in Siberia), that ancient lake too receded over time exposing ravines, boulders and sedimentary rocks.

Once the lake receded, natural forces like dry weather, rain and floods took control and carved the twisted sculptures, giving them the unusual shapes of animals, demons, human faces, castles, vehicles and more! Experts say that it took anywhere between 300,000 and 700,000 years to carve those sculptures. Interestingly, the Yadan National Geological Park has the largest number of natural formations in this entire world.

The Artistic Sculptures of the Devil’s City of Gobi Desert

The structures that you see at the Devil’s City are not manmade but they are extremely artistic, proving that there is no better artist/sculptor than nature herself. Some of the topographies in the Park are massive, reaching the heights of 20 meters or more. Those structures look like pagodas, temples, boats and buses, pavilions, stairs, castles, palaces and more. Many structures look like human faces, many look like animals and many others look like terrifying demons from the dark.

While the Yadan landforms are scattered over a vast area, one particular area is of high interest. This particular area is known as the Devil’s City but many actually refer to the whole park as Devil’s City. This area also goes by the names Ghost City, Demon City and The City of the Devil (Moguicheng). This Demon City is very high concentration of these natural landforms and they have a very creepy or eerie setting, which resembles like a haunted and deserted city.

The landforms in this Ghost City are fantastically well-placed, resembling a well-planned city, complete with squares, walls, roads and buildings. One look at the setting and you will immediately say that someone intentionally built this place with immaculate attention to details.

Many of the Yadan landforms in The City of the Devil resemble fanged demons. They appear to be coiled up and ready to pounce and kill at any given moment. Some looking like terrifying beasts that stand like silent sentinels overlooking and protecting their home. The overall view is surreal and adding to this magical vibe are the multicolored stones and rolling hills that create an absolutely majestic environment of eerie fantasy.

The Weird Sounds and Unusual Magnetism of the Devil’s City of Gobi Desert

The Devil’s City of Gobi Desert doesn’t just house spectacular landforms. It is also the home to some really mysterious and eerie sounds that emanate from inside the area and the surrounding places. These sounds display amazing variations and different people have described these sounds in different ways. For some, the sounds appear to be the sound of plucking the strings of guitar. For others, they appear to be human whispers while some others consider the sounds as tingling of bells. Many others report the sound to be that of singing and some claim it to be shouting. While these variations are indeed creepy, there are others who describe even creepier effects. Some say that the sounds appear to be the shrill sound of crying babies and for others, they mimic quarreling, screaming and moaning.

Interestingly enough, these sound effects mentioned above are all day time events. When the sun retires and the night unfolds, the sounds change. The changes are not subtle but intensely dramatic, mimicking a bone chilling cacophony of the wilderness. The primary reason for such change being the strong winds that send gravels and sands hurtling through air at high speed. That’s when some people describe the sounds to be trumpets of elephants, howls of wolves, roars of lions and the squealing sound of the pigs being slaughtered. The whole environment becomes a stage of varied sound effects that are not for the faint-hearted people.

The question is, ‘where does these sound effects come from?’ No one knows. There is no single clear answer that can aptly explain all the strange sounds and their sources. Sometimes, these sounds appear to emanate from all possible directions and there are times they just seem to appear out of thin air, as if it is the wind that manifested into sound waves.

As usual, the locals revert to spirits and ghosts for explanation but most likely the sounds are created by the interactions of winds and Yadan landforms – interactions that are till date poorly understood.

In addition to the weird sounds of the Demon City, there is something more intriguing and mysterious. The place is known for its unusually high magnetism. No one has been able to understand the cause such magnetic anomalies but no one is ruling out the possibility that the acoustic properties of the area play a role in this. Interesting however, no one has been able to show any correlation between sound effects and magnetism of the area.

The Yadan National Geological Park is a tourist attraction. Unless you have explorer genes in you, consider taking a guided tour to the Park and the famous Devil’s City of Gobi Desert. You will be left with awe, marveling at Nature’s masterstrokes. You will never regret your decision!

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