Known for the coexistence of mountain and spring, sand and water, Mingsha Mountain, along with Crescent Lake, was included in the list of China’s top tourist attractions in 1994. The area is located 5 km south of Dunhuang in Gansu province and is one of the most attractive tourist spots on the legendary Silk Road, next to the Mogao Caves.
Mingsha Mountain, also known as Echoing Sand Mountain, is a sandstone range that stretches from the cliff face of the Mogao Grottoes to the Danghe Dam in the west. It is about 40 km long, 20 km wide and on average 100 meters high. The highest point is 1650 meters. Mingsha Mountain is made up of thin hyaline sandy beaches in five different colors – red, yellow, blue, white and black – and winds up and down in various shapes.
The special feature of the Mingsha mountain is that the sand echoes here. When a strong wind blows, one hears a loud noise generated by the moving sand. While a light wind blows, the sand sounds like orchestral music. So the mountain was named Mingsha.
Actually, the sand echo is a spectacular geographic phenomenon. In some desert or sand dunes, sand particles vibrate, especially the quartz, due to the special climate and the geography. They move up and down and spin in the wind flow generated by the wind. All these movements together create many cavities as diabolos. The wind blows through the caves, rubs with sand and finally forms the echo.