Fujian Tour Part 2: Tian Luo Keng Tulou Cluster

After going inside our first Earthen Building of the Fujian Tour, our driver dropped us off for a few minutes to capture the small settlement of Tian Luo Keng. We had two stops in total for Tian Luo Keng, the first one was from below where we could gaze upwards at this mountainside settlement of Earthen Buildings.

We parked at the foot of the hill. It was around 10 am and we could gaze up at this settlement halfway up the mountains.

The views are immense. Layered fields, some still used for rice plantations adorn the mountain and hillsides.

In front of the Earthen Buildings at Tian Luo Keng. A Tulou cluster.

Panny in front of the Earthen Buildings of Tian Luo Keng. It was here where Panny explained a few bits and pieces to me about these buildings. This particular set is often nicknamed “four dishes and one soup” due to their appearance from above as looking like a meal table set. Tian Luo Keng also translates into English as “snail pit”

Panny and I enjoy the view at the bottom of Tian Luo Keng. It is officially known as the Tian Luo Keng Tulou Cluster. There are a total of five noble buildings here – 3 circles, an oval and a square in shape. It is possible to spend the night in one of these buildings, but we were already staying in Taxia Village nearby at the Qingde Building. The building you can stay in is called Ruiyun Lou.

The countryside setting is also fabulous.

Then we get back in the car and our driver takes us to the top, for a view looking down on the cluster. Wehave to pay 100 Yuan to get in, though this is included in the tour cost. It seems a bit of a rip off though, as all you get for this is entrance to a ledge to view the cluster from. The driver also lies to us telling us you cannot go inside the buildings at Tian Luo Keng.

These buildings then are known as Tulou and were started by a group of people or a tribe or family known as The Hakka (totally different to the New Zealand dance by the way). They are mostly in Yongding County. During the Jin Dynasty of AD 265 – 314, the Hakka people of northwest China moved to these southern regions and provinces, Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong and set up these Tulou buildings to protect them from bandits and wild animals.

Flying the Northern Ireland flag overlooking the Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster.

A few couple shots overlooking the cluster.

What’s also interesting is how these buildings were built and the purpose of them. They were built using a variety of local materials. Rammed earth, glutinous rice, wood and even bamboo. The word “clan” can describe the groups of people that were housed within, though as most of them are related, family is also acceptable. These clans still live here, generations on, proving the cheapness and longevity of these amazing structures.

Panny and I enjoyed the view down and asked about going inside, sadly we didn’t get a chance. But we were inside about 4 or 5 other Tulou style buildings during the day anyway.

Panny Yu looks down on Tianluokeng. It was also Panny’s first time here in this area, despite the fact that she has travelled in China extensively on many occassions.

An overview of the location of Tian Luo Keng – against a backdrop so so typical of Chinese countryside.

The entrance gate. Again 100 Yuan was very pricey and all we got for that was the view, and a ticket:

The ticket front and back, all in Chinese of course and it also shows the geographic location of Tian Luo Keng.

A few more countryside shots.

If these photos appear a bit repetitive then it’s because THIS WAS IT. You simply go in, stand on a balcony and get your photos. You couldn’t walk around the village or go any further down. In fact with soldiers on the gates, it really did feel like a communist bit of tourism. You can see this and stand here, but nothing else!

View right into one of the circular Tulou buildings. You can see people’s washing hanging up.

More close ups as that was as good as it got. Not to worry as the rest of the tour we would be right inside the other Tulou buildings in various parts of the Fujian Province.

Layered hillsides.

Fujian mountainous wilderness.

Entrance turnstiles. A bit over elaborate for what is just a balcony.

The small settlement also had a police station. It seemed odd and out of place. I also couldn’t imagine anyone causing any trouble at this particular tourist spot.

The view on round the hills where we were heading next. When we left Tian Luo Keng, we were off to a local village called Pushan Village (which has 3 different parts and names).

Our car for the day – just to mention once again that our driver was a wanker, here is some information on him:

On a final note and every part of this tour will get this – Make sure you avoid this horrible guy and tour company for the day. His name translated into English is something like Sau Jun. He’s a dickhead! Pity really as the Fujian Province is stunning.

Entrance sign shows the cluster lit up at night, which we would have got to see had we stayed overnight there.

Where and What – Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, Tian Luo Keng Village, Shuyang Township, Nanjing County, Zhangzhou City, Fujian Province, CHINA

Cost of Entry – 100 Yuan

Key Song – 


My Videos of Tian Luo Keng –



Some excellent information on Tianluokeng here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianluokeng_Tulou_cluster

Tianluokeng tulou cluster (田螺坑土楼群) is one of the better known groups of Fujian Tulou. It is located in Fujian province, Zhangzhou City,Nanjing CountyShuyang Township, Tian Luo Keng Village (literally “Snail Pit” Village) in southern China.
The cluster consists of a square earth building at the center of a quincunx, surrounded by four round earth buildings (or more exactly, 3 round earth buildings and one oval shape earth building), figuratively nicknamed “四菜一汤, Si cai yi tang” (four dishes with a soup).
tulou (lit. “earth building”) is a unique architecture found only in the mountainous areas bordering Fujian and Guangdong in southern China. The “Earth building” is an enclosed buildings, usually square or circular in shape, with a very thick earth wall (up to 6 feet thick) and wooden skeletons, from three to five storeys high, housing up to 80 families. These earth buildings have only one entrance, guarded by 4–5-inch-thick (100–130 mm) wooden doors re-enforced with an outer shell of iron plate. The top level of these earth building have gun holes for defence against bandits. In spite of the earth wall, some of them are more than 700 years old, surviving thru centuries of natural elements, including earthquakes, yet still standing solid. There are more than 35,000 earth buildings to be found in southern China, among them a little over 3,000 have been classified as Fujian Tulou
On July 7, 2008 UNESCO 32nd session held in Quebec city Canada, Tianluokeng tulou cluster was inscribed as one of 46 Fujian Tulou World Heritage Sites[1].
The five earth buildings at the Snail Pit village are:

The square earth building named Buyun building(Reaching the Cloud building) at the center of the quincunx. It was the first earth building at this site, built in 1796. It is three storeys high, each storey has 26 rooms, four sets of stairs, and a circular corridor in front of the rooms. The Buyun building was burnt down by bandits in 1936, and rebuilt in 1953 according to the original shape.

  • The Hechang building, a three storey high round earth building,
  • Zhenchang building, three storey, round shape, 26 rooms per storey, built in 1930
  • Ruiyun building, built in 1936,
  • The last Wenchang building of 1966, 3 storeys, 32 rooms per storey.
The cluster is located about four hours drive by motor coach or taxi from Xiamen, through winding and bumpy narrow mountain roads (Fujian Provincial Highway 309 (S309), or county roads).
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