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Guoliang Tunnel- Road that does not tolerate any mistakes

  • Written by PunithaV ECE
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This road is located in the Taihana Mountains in the Hunan Province of China and before its construction in 1972, access to Guoliana village was restricted to a treacherous path carved into the mountain face. Surround by soaring mountains the village of Guoliana was essentially disconnected from all civilization! However, in 1972 a group of men from the village decided to take matters into their own hands and began carving a road directly through the mountain all by themselves! The project was led by the ‘head of the village’; Shen Minaxin who insisted this immense undertaking was embraced by all in the village. Due to Shen’s insistence, the villagers funded the procurement of hammers and steel tools through the sale of goats and herbs and after 5 years the tunnel was complete. All by hand they had completed a 1200 meter long, 5 meter high and 4 meter wide tunnel right through the imposing mountain. This huge feat of engineering was not only laborious and physically demanding but dangerous as well with a number of villagers being killed during its construction. Despite being carved totally by hand, the tunnel was completed and opened to traffic for the first time on 1st May 1977.

More than 30 windows span the length of the tunnel and it is thought that these may have been produced to expel rubble during construction as well as supply light due to the lack of electricity in this remote mountainous region. It is only in recent times, with the opening of China’s borders to tourists that the villager’s hard work has paid off. Before the tunnel was constructed the only way out of the village was via a ladder up a sheer mountainside but now with the influx of tourism, Guoliang Village is thriving and is now considered another jewel in the crown of the Taihang Mountains.

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