The Yangtze River is the longest river in China as well as one of the longest rivers in the world. The Three Gorges on the Yangtze River are Famous for their breathtaking scenery, and are praised as nature's art gallery and wonderland. Of the three Gorges, the Qutang Gorge is magnificent and precipitous, the Wuxia Gorge is deep and beautiful and the Xiling Gorge has rapids and many rocks. The water in the Mini Three Gorges is clean and both banks are blanketed with trees and have many historical sites, scenic spots and lovely legends. Today, a huge dam is being built along the Three Gorges. After completion, it will offer visitors a new look amidst the precipitous gorges.
Cliffside Carvings at Baodingshan (Precious Crown Hill)
Baodingshan (Precious Crown Hill), 15 kilometers northeast of Dazu, is well known for its comprisal of more than 10,000 magnificent sculptures, which were created under the direction of a distinguished local Buddhist monk Zhao Zhifeng in the Song Dynasty (9601279). It has a history of over 800 years. The cliffside carvings in Dafowan (Great Buddha Bend) are best preserved and most numerous. Dafowan is a U-shaped valley. Altogether, 31 niches are arranged in a row on the 30-meter high, 500-meter long precipitous cliffside. The carvings are chiefly about reincarnations of the Sutra. In each niche are groups of sculptures with Buddhist inscriptions, tenets, or eulogies, telling serial stories from the Sutra, just like scrools of ancient picture books. The grottoes at the Precious Crown Hill are characterized by their distinct national style, local themes, and secularized renditions. These features make the grottoes a treasure house of grotto art in China.
Baidicheng (White King City)
Baidicheng (white King City) lies on the north bank of the Yangtze River and to the east of Fengjie County, guarding the entrance to Qutang Gorge. Over 2000 thousand years ago, it was the founding place of the ancient Ba Kingdom. In Qin (221207 B.C.) and Han (206 B.C. A.D. 220 ) Dynasties, the place was named Yufu County. At the end of Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.A.D. 24), Gongsun Shu made himself ruler of the State of Shu and moved his capital from Chengdu to Yufu. As the legend goes, Gongsun Shu found a well when building the town. From this well emitted white vapor which he associated with the flying of a white dragon. So he renamed himself the White King and the town Baidicheng (White King City). Because of its scenic beauty, many famous poets of Tang (618907) and Song (960 1279) Dynasties visited the place and left numerous poems. That is why the town is also called the poetic town. On the west and east wings of the White King Temple are 74 stone tablets made since the Sui Dynasty (581 618). They are of great historical value.
Qutang Gorge extends from Baidicheng in the west to the town of Daxizhen in the east. It is the shortest but the most magnificent of the Three Gorges. Qutang Gorge is also known as Kuixia Gorge. The broadest part of the gorge is only 150 meters, while the narrowest is less than 100 meters. At the mouth of the gorge stand two perpendicular cliffs facing each other. They look like two giant gates, hence the name Kui Gate or Qutang Pass. It is also the most dangerous and feared part of the Three Gorges.
On the north bank of the gorge is Chijia (Red Scale) Mountain, which looks crimson. Opposite it stands the Baiyan (White Salt) Mountain, which bears the color of grayish white. Presenting a sharp color contrast, the two mountains make a marvelous view. In addition to Baidicheng, there are many other scenic spots and places of historical interest in the gorge, such as the peculiar rock called the Monk Hanging by the Feet, the legendary Meng Liang Staircase, the Fengxiang (Bellows) Gorge, an ancient plank road built on the face of a cliff, and the Phoenix Spring, etc.
Daning River and the Little Three Gorges
The Daning River, a 300 kilometer tributary that joins the Yangtze River at the mouth of the Wuxia Gorge, is full of shoals and whirlpools. With precipitous peaks standing on both sides and turbulent currents smashing against the huge rocks, the small gorges are in many ways like those of the Yangtze River Gorges, hence its name the Little Three Gorges. Famous scenic sites are: Longmen Gorge, Bawu Gorge, Dicui Gorge, Miaoxia Gorge, Yezhuxia Gorge. They are now attracting more and more tourist every year.
Wuxia Gorge, one of the Three Gorges, stretches from the Daning River Estuary in Chongqing to the Guandukou Estuary in Badong County of Hubei Province. Flanked bycraggy peaks and grotesque rocks, it forms a meandering scenic gallery. The beautiful scenes on both banks are too numerous for the eye to take in all at the same time
On a cruise down the Wuxia Gorge, one can enjoy the beauty of 12 peaks. Six of the the 12 peaks line the northern bank: Shenquan, Jixian, Songluan, Shennu, Chaoyun, and Denglong. Of the other six peaks on the southern bank, only three are visible: Juhe, Cuiping, and Feilong. The other three: Jingtan, Qiyun, and Shangsheng are hidden behind the peaks on the right of the Qingshixi Stream, a tributary of Yangtse River. All the peaks derived their names from their different shapes. Changing with the seasons and weather, these beautiful scenes have everlasting appeal to tourists.
Situated in the north of Hunan Province, Dongting Lake is the second largest body of fresh water in China. Now the lake is divided into three sections: East Dongting Lake, South Dongting Lake, and West Dongting Lake. Dongting Lake area is well-known as Land of Fish and Rice. There are several islands in the lake: the most famous is Junshan Island, where silver needle tea is grown. Around the lake there are the Yueyang Tower, Mount Jun, Lu Sus Tomb and a number of sites of historic interest.
Located on the west city wall, the Yueyang Tower is one of the three famous towers in South China. The predecessor of Yueyang Tower was a structure built in the Three Kingdoms period (220 -280 AD) for reviewing military parades. In the fifth year of the Emperor Qingli of the Song Dynasty, it was rebuilt, and the famous Song Dynasty essay writer Fan Zhongyan wrote his famous essay Notes on Yueyang Tower, which was considered matchless in literary beauty and profound thought. The lines in the essay of be concerned before anyone else becomes concerned; enjoy yourself only after everyone else finds enjoyment, has become household words in China.
Yueyang Tower is a three-story wooden structure supported by four pillars. It is nineteen meters tall and has upturned eaves and a helmet shaped roof. The structure is a unique combination of artistic tastes, mechanics, architecture, and craftsmanship. The Tower affords a spectacular view of Dongting Lake.
The Xiling Gorge is one of the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River. It is 76 kilometers long, stretching from the Xiangxi stream to Nanjin Pass in Yichang. It is the longest and most difficult one of the three gorges to pass on the Yangtze River. Its channel is full of shoals, whirling pools and submerged reefs, making the water run in different directions. Tourist attractions include the Book on Art of War and Sword Gorge, the Cattle Liver and Horse Lung Gorge, the Lamp Shadow Gorge, the Black Shoal and the Discharge Water Shoal.
Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project
Located on the Yangtze River north of Yichang City, Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project is the biggest dam on the Yangtze River. It is also the largest hydroelectric power station in the country. The first phase of the project started in 1970, and in 1988 the second phase of the project finished. The Gezhouba dam is 2,606 meters long, and 70 meters high, with a capacity of 271.5 kilo watt.
Shennongjia Scenic Spot
The Shennongjia District in north-western Hubei has the wildest scenery in the province. With heavily forested mountains reaching over 3,000 meters, the area is famous for the sightings of wild creatures. The whole area occupies 3,250 square kilometers, with an altitude of more than 1,000 meters above sea level. There are 6 mountain peaks, which are higher than 3,000 meters above sea level. In this area grow various plants and wild animals, which are rarely found in other parts of the world.
Jingzhou City in Jiangling
Jingzhou, now Jiangling County of Hubei, used to be a place of military strategic significance in history. In the year of 689 BC, the State of Chu built its capital here. During the Three Kingdoms Period Jingzhou was the city fought for by the three different kingdom armies. After that four more dynasties set up capitals here. The old Jingzhou City was said to be built more than 1,700 years ago. The existing city walls, 8.3 meters in height, 10 meters in thickness and 10.5 kilometers in length, were built in 1644. In the city there are places of historic interest, including more than 700 tombs of the Chu State nobles and ruins of the Three Kingdoms.
Wanshou Pagoda (Longevity Pagoda)
Located in Shashi City, the Wanshou Pagoda started to be built in 1548, and construction lasted until 1552. The pagoda is of brick structure, octagonal in shape with seven stories. It is 40 meters high on a giant base of rock. The outside of each floor is decorated with white marble carved with Buddha images in 94 shrines. The bricks of the pagoda are also carved with large numbers of Buddha.
Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan
Located on top of the Snake Mountain in Wuhan City, the Yellow Crane Tower was built 1,700 years ago (223 AD) during the Three Kingdoms Period. It is the most famous tower among the three well-known towers (the Yellow Crane Tower, Yueyang Tower and Tenwang Pavilion) in south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The Yellow Crane Tower has been crowned with unrivaled scenery under heaven. The Tower used to be of complete wood structure. Destroyed many times by fire, the tower was rebuilt several times. Complete renovation of the tower began in 1981, and was completed and open to public in 1985. The design of the new tower was modeled on its last design of the Qing Dynasty. The 5-storied tower is 51.4 meters in height with layers of flying eaves, yellow tiles and columns painted red. The interior of the tower is decorated in the classical Chinese style. To facilitate tourists, the tower is now equipped with elevators and air-conditioning.
The Chimes of Marquis Yi
In the summer of 1978, a set of chimes, consisting of 64 pieces, were unearthed from the tomb of Marquis Yi of the State of Zeng (430 BC) in Suixian County. These chimes were arranged in 8 groups in three different rows. On the surface of the chimes were engraved with 2,800 Chinese characters on music, the earliest record ever found in the world. The chimes now are able to perform music that is pleasant to the ear. This set of chimes is unique both in the history of music, but also in the history of bronze casting. The chimes are now on display in the Museum of Hubei province.