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Baidi Cheng (White Emperor City)

  The local ferry from Fengiie takes about 20 minutes to reach Baidi Cheng on the north bank of the river, passing several pagodas on the surrounding peaks the return trip takes an hour). Sadly the approach to this historic site is quite spoilt by a factory and workers' housing built in the 1970s.

  Because of its strategic position the town was chosen in the first century AD by Gong Sunshu, Yangtze Cruisean official turned soldier, as the site of his headquarters. The legend goes that in AD 25 white vapour in the shape of a dragon was seen rising from a nearby well. Taking this as an auspicious omen, Gong declared himself the 'White Emperor' and the town 'White Emperor City'. Remains of the city wall can still be seen on the hill behind Baidi Mountain. The 12-year reign of the White Emperor was regarded as a time of peace and harmony, so after his death a temple was built to commemorate his reign. This temple dates back over 1,950 years.

  Several hundred steps lead up the wooded Baidi Mountain. The Western Pavilion (at one time known as Guanyin Dong) on the slope is believed to have been occupied by the great poet Du Fu, who wrote numerous poems at this site. The pavilion overlooks what Du Fu described as 'the limitless Yangtze'. Further up the hill is a stupa, marking the grave of a much--loved literary monk who served at the temple during the Qing dynasty (1644--l911).

  A red wall with an imposing yellow dragon-head gateway surrounds the temple complex. Though the temple was originally dedicated to Gong Sunshu, the White Emperor, his statue was removed in the Ming dynasty (l368--l644) and replaTravel Chinaced with images of Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, heroes of the Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period. The present halls date from the Ming dynasty.

  The front hall contains large modern statues which depict Liu Bei on his deathbed entrusting his Sons to the care of Zhuge Liang. To the left is the handsome, winged Observing the Stars Pavilion (GuanXng Ting), Where a large bronze bell can be seen hanging in the upper storey. From this pavilion Zhuge Liang observed the stars and made accurate weather forecasts Which helped him plan his victorious battles. The two Forest of Tablets halls contain several rare engraved stelae, some of which are over 1,300 years old. The Phoenix Tablet is particularly finely engraved. The Bamboo Leaf Poem Tablet is one of only three in China. It is considered a fine work of art, combining as it does poetry and calligraphy, for the tablet is engraved with three branches of bamboo,each leaf forming the Chinese characters of a poem.
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  The Wuhou Hall is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, his son and grandson. The bodies of the statues are of the Ming dynasty (1368--1644), but the heads, smashed in the Cultural Revolution (l966--76), are new. Mingliang Hall is dedicated to Liu Bei, Who is shown surrounded by four attendants, as well as the black-faced Zhang Fei and the red faced Guan Yu on one side, and Zhuge Liang on the other. Adjoining rooms display furniture, scrolls, porcelain and other cultural relics.

   In 1987, several buildings were converted to form a museum displaying the many cultural relics found within the area, including two coffins from the Ba culture. One of these dates back to the Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 8).

  Fine views of the entrance to Qutang Gorge can be seen from the temple. As the Three Gorges Dam begins to take effect, the water level will rise and Baidi Mountain will become an island.

  At the foot of Baidi Mountain, Yanyu Rock-over 30 metres (100 feet) long, 20 metres (66 feet) wide and 40 metres (130 feet) high--used to be a constant hazard to boats riding the swift current and heading into the narrow entrance of Qutang Gorge. Over the ages, countless vessels perished. In l959 it took a work team seven days to blow up this gigantic rock.

BaiDi Cheng(White Emperor City)

The Story Of The Three KingDoms