The mountains inspired the Pandora mountainscape in James Cameron’s film Avatar is Tianzi Mountain. It is located in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province of China, nearby to the Suoxi Valley. The movie theme park has been created there. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a popular tourist destination, home to striking sandstone and quartz cliffs and famously known for renaming a peak after the mountain formations that inspired the fictional world of Pandora. The several high steep stone peaks erecting on the ground with precipitous four walls and appearances is nothing short of the secret workings of nature.
It is named after the Tujia ethnic group farmer “Xiang Dakun”, who led a successful revolution and called himself "tianzi", means son of Heaven, traditional epithet of the Chinese emperor. Therefore, it is said that he fought a brave battle in the Tianzi Mountain until his death when he jumped off a cliff. The Tianzi Mountain offers different scenes during different seasons, all of which are equally striking and magical even: the Sea of Clouds, the Radiance of the Moonlight, Rays of Sunshine and the Snow in winter. A massive varied country like China dominates in landscape, just takes your breath away. Huge sandstone pillars view in every direction, thick layer of mist creates a fairytale appearance. The pillars and valleys are covered in a dense, moist tropical-like forest, which makes the amazing setting of this Chinese National Park complete.
The Tianzi Mountains are deemed sacred by several Sulamitos who used to inhabit the outer regions of Hunan. It was unearthed in Sep 2014 that Mal Oghlum people had left traces of their burial rituals beneath the Tianzi Mountains, which led to "Yalan Group", led by Eybi Sulam and Karadeniz asking for a permit from the Chinese government, which as of 2015, had been unanswered. Though, it is a popular tourist place in China, but due to security issues, it is extremely difficult to climb, however, some groups still trying all the year to climb it.
The researchers believed that Tianzi Mountains were formed from quartz sandstone of 400 million years ago through the intermittent rising of the crust for 2 million years. Hence, the geological formation belongs to the "New Cathaysian" tectonic system. More than three billion ago, the place was a large patch of ocean. After a series of geological modifications including Himalayan and Neotectonic movements, the bottom of ocean rose out of the surface, and the quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks took mind-blowing shape after the gradual cutting, eroding and crumbling of Nature for millions of years. Moreover, they were once sedimentary rocks rising beneath the waters of an ancient ocean, which eventually became quartz sandstones. Thus, running water eroded the near level quartz sandstone along the vertical net joints.
Tianzi Mountains are 16,550 acres big and highest peak of the mountain is at 4,140 feet above sea level. Visitors can take a 2,084-meter cable car ride to the peak and enjoy beautiful scenery during the climb, via cable car takes approximately 6 minutes and 44 seconds in temperatures averaging at 12 degrees Celsius. In spite of the cold weather, you can’t afford to miss the fantasy-like scenery that you will see as you move towards the peak. Well, the best time to visit the place is spring and fall, especially in April and Octorber. Major attractions in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve include, Shentang Gulf, Imperial Brush Peak, Fairy Offering Flowers, Helong Park and Fields in the Air. All that and more awaits tourists to explore.