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Qutang Gorge

Qutang Gorge

Grandest Gorge - Qutang Gorge

Qutang Gorge, extending 8 kilometers, starts from Baidicheng (White Emperor City) in the west to Daxi County in the east. It is also called Kui Gorge and it is noted for its grandeur and beauty.

Qutang Gorge is as narrow as corridor. Kuimen, or the Kui Gate is the beginning of the gorge. It consists of two mountains facing each other on either side of the Yangtze River situated to the east of the county seat of Fengjie, and the two mountains can be seen on the southern gate of Fengjie. The mountain on the northern bank is Chijia Mountain and the mountain on the southern bank is Baiyan Mountain of white rocks. Both mountains are about 500 meters high, forming a bottleneck on the surging waters of the turbulent Yangtze.

Scenic Spots of Qutang Gorge

There are many beautiful scenic spots at Qutang Gorge.

Chijia Mountain and Baiyan Mountain

The two mountains on both side of Kuimen are Chijia Mountain and Baiyan Mountain. The one on the northern bank is Chijia which looks like a giant peach. And the other one on the southern bank is Baiyan. These two mountains stand straight into the sky. Both mountains are about 500 meters high. Although the channel of it is only about 100 meters wide, the flow rate is upto 50,000 cubic meters per second.

Chijia Mountain is red like the naked back of a man because the rocks are covered with aqueous solution full of ferric oxide. Baiyan Mountain is as white as salt. The red Chijia Mountain and the white Baiyan Mountain facing each other on either side of the river looks fabulous in bright sunshine.


The cliff walls of Kuimen towering over the Yangtze River are 350 meters high. Twelve places on the cliffs are covered with carvings made from the Southern Song Dynasty to the time of the Republic, totaling some 200 square meters. An inscription Song Zhong Xing Sheng De Song is still well preserved. Another inscription saying "Kuimen is the most magnificent in the world, and ships cruise through rapidly with ease." is the calligraphic work by Sun Yuanliang, a modern calligrapher. The eight Chinese characters of enormous size are written in the style of the Han Dynasty.

The Mengliang Stairway

On the south side the river (Baiyan Mountain) there are a series of rectangular shaped holes carved into the cliff face. The holes are almost exactly 1 metre apart and 1 metre deep. The holes zig-zag up part of the cliff face in a Z-shape. These holes are known as the Mengliang Stairway.

Legend has it that the holes were built by a Song Dynasty soldier named Mengliang. Mengliang served for a general named Yang Jiye who was buried at the top of the cliff. Mengliang wanted to find the remains of General Yang and give him a proper burial back in his home town. During the night Mengliang constructed the stairway. A monk at the top of the mountain saw him coming and crowed like a rooster. Mengliang, thinking the morning had arrived, quickly abandoned his plan to avoid being caught.

Holes such as these are used as a walk-way several places in the Three Gorges region. Poles were inserted into the holes and then either a walkway could be constructed or a person could walk from pole to pole. Historians do not know why these particular holes were constructed, nor do they know why they only reach part of the way up the cliff face. Remains of city walls have been located at the top of the cliff, and some historians have theorized that the pathway might have been intended to enable a person to access the city from the river.

Another famous set of similar holes can be found near Wushan in the Lesser Three Gorges of the Daning River. The local tourism agency in Wushan has placed poles in some of these holes so that touists can see how they were used in ancient times.

Chalk Wall

The Chalk Wall of Qutang Gorge refers to the wall located among the crumbling walls of the Baiyan Mountain. The wall is over 1,094 yards long with many words carved into it. It is called the Chalk Wall as the wall is white in color, having been brushed with lime powder during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). It is also called Fenbi Wall because the wall is inscribed with tablets originating from different dynasties in various fonts. Thus, it resembles the wall of a hall hung with calligraphy works, hence the name.

The word carvings on the Chalk Wall date back from Song Dynasty. The largest word inscribed is two yards, and the smallest is only the size of a finger. When the cruise ship passes the mouth of Qutang Gorge, the words "Kui Men" and "Qu Tang" can be seen. These four words are written by celebrities of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) in Li script (official script). Among the inscriptions, there is a large tablet of four yards high and eight yards wide. Over 980 characters are carved on the tablet. It is the work of Zhao Gongshuo, a calligraphist from the Southern Song Dynasty. The achievements and virtues of Emperor Gaozong and Emperor Xiaozong are described in the words.

Other Scenic Spots of Qutang Gorge

There are some other scenic spots on both bank of the river, such as Iron Lock Pass, Hanging Monk Rock, Bellow Gorge and the Phoenix Fountain. And there are also remains of ancient plank roads built along the perpendicular rock-faces and giant Chinese characters engraved on the cliffs over the plank roads.