- Yangtze Gorge Brief
- The River's Source
- Getting There
- Facts For The Traveler
- The Yangtze River:An introduction
- The Source to Yichang
- ZhongXian & Shibaozhai
- QuTang Gorge
- The Little Three Gorges
- WuXia Gorges
- Xiling Gorges
- The Middle Reaches
- The Lower Reaches
Changqing River Brief
The Changqing River is the longest river in China. It rises in the Tanggula Mountain in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and runs 6,300 kilometers through nine provinces and the municipality of Shanghai, finally emptying ainto the East China Sea. The drainage-basin of the Changjiang River is of 1,800,000 square kilometers inhabited by 300,000,000 people. The navigable channels of the Changjiang River and its more than 700 tributaries total 70,000 kilometers.
Cruise Ships on the Changjiang River
Because it is rich in scenic and cultural resources, the Changjiang River, especially its Three Gorges, has been a tourist attraction since ancient times. Only by bot, however, can one enjoy this awesome scenic beauty. At present, five luxurious cruise ships, the M.S.Kunlun, M.S. Goddess, M.S. Emei, M.S. Three Gorges, M.S. Bashan, all owned by Changjiang General Shipping Corporation and managed by China International Travel Service Changjiang Branch, are sailing between Chongqing and Shanghai or between hongqing and Wuhan. All of these ships are equipped with air-conditioning and heating systems, and all the cabins on these ships are twin-bedded with private bathes. Spacious public areas including a ballroon, lounges, dining roon, recreation room, swimming pool, a bar and observation deck, and other services including ice-making machines, a “shop, international cable sevice, money exchange, laundry, barber’s clinic and service desk are available aboard. The cruise ships are like floating hotels.
Chongqing, located at the junction of the Changjiang and the Jialing Rivers, has a history of over 3,000 years. Chongqing, also called Yu for short and nicknamed Mountain City, has an area of 9,800 square kilometers with a population of 14 million.
Fengdu is called the city of devil. From the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD)on, feudal rulers of various dynasties built scores of temples on a nearby mountain and filled them with hundred of images of devils and demons in various fantastic postures, depicting forbidding view of imaginary hell. Some shrines, with frightening names such as “ Between the Living and the Dead”, “Bridge of Helplessness”, “Balcony of Nostalgia”, “Palace of the Jade Emperor”, “God of the Constellations”, “Palace of the King of Hell” and “Palace of Rosy Clouds”, have recently been renovated.
Shibao Block is actually a huge rock, over one hundred and fifty feet high, vertical on all sides, and rising abruptly from the ground. It looks like a seal and hence its nickname “ Jade Seal Hill”. In the early Qing Dynasty(1644-1911) a temple called “Lanruodian” was built up the sheer cliff facing the Changjiang River, so that people could get to the top by climbing the spira staircase inside. Now there are cultural relics and sculptures of some of the historic of this local on display in the temple.
Wanxian, with a history of more than 2,000 years, is an important gate into eastern Sichuan Province. It produces abundant silk products, oranges and tangerines.
Yunyang is an old city with a history of 3,00 years. On the bank opposite Yunyang is the Zhangfei Temple. This famous temple was built in the Northern Shong Dynasty9960-1127) to commemorate Zhangfei, a famous general of the State of Shu in the Tree Kingdoms Period(221-263AD). Inside the temple is a huge sculpture of Zhangfei and many stone and wood carvings, some of which are rare cultural relics of te area.
Fengjie was called Kuifu long ago when it was the capital of an ancient state. Fengjie has a history of over 2,000 years, and the ancient city gate and the remains of the city wall still stand. In the surrounding countryside are scenic spots of historical interest such as the thatched house where great poet Dufu of the Tang Dynasty once lived, and the White King Shrine. It is here that the Three Gorges begin to unfold their beautiful scenery.
One kilometer southeast Fengjie, close to the river bank lies a shoal called Couyanqi. Only in dry season does it emerge. Here, it is said, during the Tree Kingdoms Period, Zhu Geliang, the prime minister of the State of Shu, planned the battle strategy of Bazhengtu(eight puzzles). General Luxun of the State of Wu, in his hot pursuit of Liu Bei, the king of the State of Shu, broke into this battle formation by mistake and only narrowly escaped.
White King City
The White King City is actually a shrine now. it is loated at the entrance to the Qutang Gorge. Towards the end of the Western Han Dynasty(206BC-25AD), a man by the name of Gong Sunshu declared himself White King here, hence the name White King City. It was here Liu Bei, the king of the State of Shu in the Three Kingdoms Period(221-263), when he was dying, entrusted is son to his prime minister Zhu Geliang. Sculptures of Liu Bei, Guanyu, Zhangfei, Zhu Geliang and others are on display in the main hall of the White King Shrine. Inside the room on either side of the main hall are displayed cultural relics and the works of famous poets and painters of various dynastied.
The Three Gorges are a world-renowned tourist attraction. Beginning in the West at the White King Shrine in Fengjie, Sichuan Province, and ending in the east at the Nanjing Pass in Yichang, Huber Province, the gorges have a total length of 193kilometers. The Three Gorges consists of the Qutang gorge, the Wu Gorge and the Xiling Gorge.
How did the Three Gorges come into being? According to geologists and archeologists, about seventy million years ago, the aea of the present Three Gorges was a vast expanse of water. A strong movement called Yanshan Crustal Movement took place resulting in the gradual rising of the earth’s crust here. After years’ water erosion, the gorges gradually appeared.
In the Three Gorges the maximum width of the river is 300 meters, and the minimum width is less than 100 meters. The difference in the water level between flood season and dry season is as much as 60 meters. In flood season, water volume peaks at 80,000 cubic meters rushing by ever second. In dry season the velocity of the current is 4 kilometers per hour, which increases to 11 kilometers per hour in flood season with a maximum current of 25 kilometers per hour in reef and shoal areas.
Warm, humid central Asian tropical weather dominates the Three Gorges. The annual temperature averages 18.4℃. January is the coldest month with the temperature averaging 7.1℃. July is the hottest, with an average temperature of 29.3℃. Annual precipitation averages 1,000 to 1,400 mm., most of which falls in July and August when this area becomes one of the storm centers of China.
Local people are primarily engaged in manual agricultural operations. Agriculture products consist chiefly of rice, maize, sweet potatoes, oranges, tangerines and shaddocks. Medicinal herbs and raw Lacquer are abundant.
The Qutang Gorges, also called Kui Gorge, extends from the White King Shrine in the west to the town of Daixizhen in the east, with a total length of eight kilometers. Well-known for its magnificence, the Qutang Gorge possesses such attractions as the White King Shrine, Mengliang Staircase, ancient towing path, the Kui Gate, the Bellows Gorge and Rhinoceros Watching the Moon.
The Guokai Gorge(meaning wronglyopened gorge)lies between two mountain peaks which face each other. According to a legend, this gorge marks the remains of a channel mistakenly made by Yu the Great when he tried to tame the river.
In Wushan, a county seat, are found several historic sites such as the Goddess Temple and the Gaotang Monastery.
East of Wushan lies the Daling River, a small tributary of the Changjiang River, on which there are gorges called the Small Three Gorges. As the Daling River is narrow, winding and turbulent, small junks shaped like willow leaves are the only means of transportation. These magnificent gorges have been opened to foreign tourists shince March, 1985.
The Goddess Peak is one of the twelve famous Wushan Mountain peaks. According to legend, Yaoji, the youngest daughter of the Mother of the Western Sky, was very clever and smart. She once descended to earth and passed by Wushan Mountains. While there, she killed some truble-making dragons with a thunder bolt, and helped tame the Changjiang River. She finally fell so in love with the mountains that she decided to remain. As time went by, her body gradually turned into the Godess Peak.
The Wu Gorge begins at the mouth of the Daling River in Wushan County, Sichuan Provence in the west, and ends at Guandukou in Badong County, Huver Province in the east, with a total length of 44 kilometers. Like a winding corridor of paintings, the gorge displays nine of twelve splendid peaks of the Wushan Mountain Range as well as other scenic spots such as the Kongming Teblet and the Wuduo Bridge.
The Wuduo Bridge, a single-arched stone structure over a stream, is an important link on an ancient towing path through the Wu Gorge.
Located on the cliff of the Peak of immortals is a concave tablet, on which are engraved six characters which read “Mountains upon mountains in the Wu Gorge”. These characters are said to have been written by Zhu Geliang, who was known as Kongming, hence it is called the Kongming Tablet.
Beishi is a small town in Sichuan Province. One kilometer to the east on the opposite bank is the Bream Stream, which forms part of the border between Sichuan and Huber Provinces. Famous poet Guo Moruo wrote the following lines to describe the importance of the stream “ When the bow of my boat enters Huber Province, its stern is still in Sichuan Province.”
Badong is the gate way to Huber Province, and is an important hub of communication in the mountainous area of western Hubei. Not far on the opposite bank is Shennongjia, a primeval forest of 3,000 square kilometers.
Zigui is the home-town of great patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was banished to southern China by the king of the State of Chu, and there, in 278BC, feeling so angry and sorrowful at the defeat of his country, he drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is said his body was carried back to his home by a big fish. The local people built him a tomb and a commemorative shrine. And every year on that date the Chinese people, in his honor, hold dragon boat race and prepare steamed glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves.
The Fragrant Stream is a tributary of the Changjang River. Located 45 kilometers upstream from the mouth of the Fragrant Stream is the Zhaojun Village, which was the birth place of Wang Zhaojun, a famous beauty of the Western Han Dynasty(206-BC-25AD). It is said that once when Zhaojun was washing clothes in the stream, a pearl in her ornament fell into the water, making the stream crystal clear and instilling in it a scent that it carries all the year round. Hence it is called Fragrant Stream.
The Xiling Gorge extends from the Fragrant stream in Zigui County in the west to the Nanjing Pass in Yichang county in the east, with a total length of 76 kilometers. This gorge had been notorious for its turbulent currents and dangerous shoals. Recently, however, the river channel in the gorge was greatly improved as a result of the construction of the Gezhou Dam Project.
There are, among the many scenic spots in this gorge, the Military Book and Precious Sword, and the Ox Liver and Horse Lung, so called because of unusual rock formations, the Huangling Temple, and the Shadow Play Gorge.
Shadow Play Gorge
The Shadow Play Gorge is in the Xiling Gorge. On Horse Tooth Hill are several rocks resembling Monky Sun, Pig Bajie, Priest Xuan Zhuan, and Monk Sha, four of the characters in the Chinese classic” Pilgrimage to the West”. They are very much like figures in a shadow play at sunset, hence the name Shadow Play Gorge.
Yichang and Gezhou Dam
Located at the east end of the Three Gorges, Yichang has a history of over 2,000 years. It is here that the famous battle between the State of Shu and the State of Wu took place in 222AD.
In 1970, the construction of the gigantic Gezhou Dam Hydroelectric Water Conservation Project, the first of its kind on the Changjiang River, commenced. The dam, 2,561 meters long and 70 meters high, consists of a power plant, 27 spillways, three shi locks, and a silt screening gate. The power plant, with 21 generators, has a generating capacity of 2.7 million kw., and an annual output of 14 billion kwh. The dam is capable of discharging 110,000 cubic meters of water per second.
Shashi and Jingzhou
Shashi is a fast developing city of light industry. The seat of Jiangling County, seven kilometers from Shashi, is the ancient city Jingzhou. During the Three Kingdoms Period(211-263), Liu Bei, the king of the State of Shu, borrowed the city of Jingzhou from the State of Wu in orer to maintain his already defeated state. Later, however, when his state became powerful, he refused to return it. Now in the Jingzhou Museum many cultural relics from the Warring States Period and the Western Han Dynasty are on display, among which the most striking is a well preserved male corpse 2,100 years old.
Chenglingji is located at the confluence fo the Dongting Lake and the Changjiang River.
The Dongting Lake is the second largest fresh water lake in China. On the lake is the Yueyang Tower, which is one of the three famous towers in Southern Chin. On Junshan Island on the lake grows some of the best tea in China.
The Red Cliff was an ancient battle ground during the Three Kingdoms Period. In 208AD, Caocao led 500,000 troops southward with the aim of unifying the whole of China. It was at the Red Cliff tht his troops clashed with the allied troops of the State of Wu and the State of Shu, who beat Cao’s troops badly, setting a brilliant example of how an army inferior in number could beat a much larger force.
Wuhan consists of the three towns of Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang, which are linked together by the Changjiang River and Han River Bridges Wuhan has long been known as “the passageway of nine provinces”. The East Lake and the Guiyuan Temple are the most popular among the scenic spots in the city.