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Xiling Gorge

Xiling Gorge

Brief Introduction of Xiling Gorge

Xiling Gorge, extending about 76 kilometers, is the longest gorge of Three Gorges and it is famous for dangerous shoals, whirlpools and reefs. In the past, Xiling Gorge used to be a dangerous part of the Yangtze River for boat people. Thanks to efforts made in dredging the waterway after liberation in 1949, especially since the completion of the dam project, this part of the Yangtze has become a safe and beautiful waterway.

Scenic Spots of Xiling Gorge

In Xiling Gorge, west of the open valley stand the Military Books and Precious Swords Gorge and Ox Liver and Horse Lung Gorge, and east of the open valley is Lantern Shadow Gorge. All these names suggest their appearances.

Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge

This gorge is located at the western part of Xiling Gorge which covers the length of 5,000 meters. The cliff walls of this gorge are mainly composed of limestone. The suspending coffins laid in the cracks of northern cliff are much like books which are said to be the military books of Zhuge Liang. And there is a giant rock beneath the cliff is in the shape of a sword which is said to be the precious sword of Zhuge Liang. So, that is why the gorge is called Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge.

Ox Liver and Horse Lung Gorge

It is 5 kilometers from Qingtan Shoal on the north bank. A lump of reddish brown shale suspended in the east, taking a shape of a bull's liver, and a dark brown rock in the west resembling a horse's lung, hence the name 'Ox Liver and Horse Lungs'. One of the 'Horse's Lungs' is missing, blown up by British gunboats during the reign of Guangxu (1875-1908).

Lantern Shadow Gorge

Lantern Shadow Gorge (Dengying Xia ) is located ten kilometers west of Nanjin Pass in Yichang City of Hubei Province. The gorge is straight and narrow although not very long. Passing through it, you may believe that you are entering your own gate to paradise.

The limestone on the mountains standing on two sides of the gorge has specially developed to form a masterpiece of nature. Steep cliffs and towering peaks extend continuously on the banks. Plenty of trees, stones in various shapes and cliffside springs scatter here and there on the mountains.

The gorge features some unusual sights on the south side. On the peak of Baiya Mountain located on the southern bank of the Yangtze, stand four strange rocks. The four rocks are just in the shapes of the four well-known figures - Monk Xuanzang (San Zang) and his three disciples, Monkey King (Sun Wukong), Pig Zhu Bajie and Friar Sand (Sha Wujing) - in Journey to the West. It is one of the four Chinese classical works, describing an interesting story. Xuanzang, a respectful monk in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), went on a pilgrimage for Buddhist scriptures to India with his three disciples. During the long journey, they defeated many sprites and monsters and overcome many difficulties. They were highly praised by Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty when they came back to Chang'an (the then capital which is known as Xi'an today).

All the four of them are favored by Chinese people very much. The four rocks in the Lantern Shadow Gorge just vividly show the figures of them which are familiar to every Chinese - the decent Monk Xuanzang, the smart Monkey King, the clumsy Pig Zhu Bajie and the surefooted Friar Sand.

Cruising on the Yangtze River, you will have a chance to admire these four lifelike stones when passing this section. If passing it at the sunset, the four are just like characters in the Dengying Play (Shadow Puppet Show). They appear dark shadows in the dusk just like the shadows of leather-made puppets being projected on to a screen. Hence the name, Dengying Gorge.

The gorge has another name - Mingyue Xia (Bright Moon Gorge). The cliff is regarded as a masterpiece by nature with a smooth surface in solid color. When you pass through the gorge on a clear night, you will marvel at the wonderful scene - bright moonlight casts upon the glazed cliff and the elegant ridge is clearly reflected in the water.

And there are some historical sites and cultural relics. The most famous sites are Huangling Temple and Three Visitors Cave.

Huangling Temple

It is located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River. Huangling Temple , the largest ancient building in the Xiling Gorge, first built during the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 B.C.) rebuit in the Tang Dynasty and repaired in 1618 during the Ming Dynasty. Inside the gate there are King Yu's palace and Memorial Temple of Zhuge Liang. In the memorial temple there used to be a stone tablet on which is inscribed Notes about the Huangling Temple, hence the name of the temple. There stands a three-meter tablet on the west side of King Yu's Palace; on the tablet inscribed "Note on Dredging the River" carved in 1773. After recent repairs, the temple looks very magnificent.

Three Visitors Cave

It is located on the northern bank of the Yangtze and ten kilometers from the urban area of Yichang. The cave was the place where Bai Juyi and other two famous poets of the Tang Dynasty gathered and later they wrote poems about their visit to the cave. Therefore the cave was named Three Visitors Cave, meaning "cave visited by three". Later, three famous scholars of the Song Dynasty, Su Xun and his sons Su Shi and Su Ze, also visited here, and their visit was known as the "later visit by three".