Fire and Water Grotto
Fire and Water Grotto Introduction
Fire and Water Grotto may be the only place in the world where you can see a natural fire geyser burning in the midst of a hot spring. Located high on the slopes of Pillow Mountain, this weird and slightly unsettling phenomenon is due to the mountain being situated on the Liuchong River Fault, which supplies both the natural gas and spring water that bubble up here.
Records show that the spring has been burning continuously for at least 300 years. It was first described in 1701 by the monk who founded Baihe Daxian Temple, which sits at the foot of the mountain. He described a hot, intensely burning fire and water rising together from a hole in the ground on the mountainside.
In the past, the flame reached about three meters high, but the 1964 Baihe earthquake leads to a slight decrease in the flow of natural gas. Today, the flames rise a little over a meter in height and create the illusion that the water is burning. Fire and Water Grotto is not a spring you can bathe in. The water is close to the boiling point, and the heat from the fire is so intense that you can feel it all the way across the pool.
The flaming spring has given rise to a couple of legends, one being that a fire dragon and a water dragon battled one another to a stalemate on this spot. Another legend involves a Chi Lin (Pillow Mountain is also called Chi Lin Mountain). In this case, the fire is his breath and the water his urine. Whatever the case, locals long ago placed a shrine atop the spring to Huo Wang Ye, the Lord of Fire, a.k.a. the Unmoving Lord.
The road up to the mountain to the spring is quite steep and full of switchbacks. You should only attempt to ride a bike up here if you are experienced and in very good shape. There is a bus from Xinying that runs up the mountain on weekends, but on weekdays you’ll have to provide your own transportation. On the way up the mountain, visitors will pass Daxian Temple and Huoshan Biyun Temple, where you have the option of taking a nice walking path that leads through the woods to the grotto.
There, the flames and water bubble up out of a small limestone rock outcropping on the side of the hill. The spring water forms a shallow pool that surrounds the outcropping. To add to the strangeness of an already strange sight, the viewing area is shaded by a large grove of Sausage Trees, which are native to parts of Africa. In the spring and summer months, these trees dangle long tendrils of maroon flowers which develop into large but inedible sausage-shaped fruits.
There are some shops next to the spring where you can get local food specialties along with ice cream and cold drinks. If you continue up the mountain, you will come to a coffee shop with a great view of the mountains where you can take a break and upload your photos to social media. Heading on past the coffee shop will eventually bring you to Guanziling Hot Springs.
Guanziling, Baihe district, Tainan city