Home : China Attractions: Yangtze River: Three Gorges

Xiling Gorge

 Lantern Shadow Gorge

antern Shadow Gorge, also called 'Bright Moon Gorge', is about 10 kilometers to the west of Nanjin Pass.

The passage is narrow between cliffs. In the evening, clear water reflects dark mountains under the bright moon. This landscape is extremely picturesque. On one of the hills called Maya Hill, stand four strange stones resembling the main characters of the classical work, 'Pilgrim to the West'. The lifelike stones show Tang Xuanzang riding on his horse, Monkey King carving out the way, plump Zhu Bajie, and Sha Seng carrying burdens. Seen from afar, they appear to be a shadow puppet drama with the light of lanterns. Thus the gorge's name came to be 'Lantern Shadow'.


 Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge

Three kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Fragrant Stream is the Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge. As its name implies, the gorge has stones very like books and a sword. Legend has it that when the wise strategist Zhuge Liang (181 - 234) went through this passage, he hid his military books and precious sword on the crags and waited for brave and brilliant people to find them.

As a matter of fact, the so-called books are burial objects on the cracks of cliffs following ancient customs, and the 'sword' is a rock pole like a huge and mighty sword with relief.


 Nanjin Pass

Nanjin Pass is the end of the Three Gorges and the division of the upper reach and mid reach of the Yangtze River. It had been the key junction of military affairs because of cliffs on each side and the narrow water passage creating a bottleneck and surging waters. The main scenic spots include Three Travelers' Cave, Peach Blossom Country, and so on. Through Nanjin Pass, the width broadens from a width of 300 meters (328 yards) to over 2,000 meters (2,187 yards).


 Ox Liver and Horse Lungs Gorge

The 4.5 kilometer-long (2.8 mile-long) gorge derived its name from two oddly shaped rocks. Around the entrance of the Jiuwan Stream to the Yangtze River, on the crag of its northern bank hang several yellow-brown rocks resembling ox livers and horse lungs - strange stalactite growths.

While the ox liver rock remains the same; the horse lung rock lacks its lower part due to a British warship's shelling in the late Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911).


 Zigui

Fragrant Stream

Rising from the area of Shennongjia, Fragrant Stream lies to the north of the Xiling Gorge bank. Through cracks of limestone, the current is filtered to become more transparent. At the entrance to the Yangtze River, the crystal green stream and water of another color converge, adding more interest to the scene.

Its upper reach traverses a small country, site of the hometown of Wang Zhaojun, one of the four beauties of ancient China. It is said that in her girlhood she had dropped her pearl necklace into this stream, and since then, the water had become crystal green and fragrant.


According to historical records, she married the king of the Hun, ordered by the emperor in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD). Her marriage promoted friendship and the exchanges of economy and culture between the two nationalities.

In honor of Wang Zhaojun, people named constructions and natural scenes for her. Thus there are Pearl Pond, Zhaojun Stronghold, Dresser Terrace, etc.


Qu Yuan Memorial Hall

Qu Yuan was a patriotic poet of the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC). He had assisted the king of the State Chu, but was dismissed from his post owing to slander. Before long, his country was captured. Regretting the failure to realize the political ambition of vitalizing the state, he threw himself into the Miluo River. After his death, people conducted activities to commemorate him. Every Dragon Boat Festival, they would hold dragon boat races and make 'Zongzi' (sticky rice dumpling wrapped in leaves) to throw into the river to share the delicacy with Qu Yuan.

The Qu Yuan Memorial Hall was built in the Zigui County during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Embraced by forests of mandarin orange and cypress, it stands against the hill and faces the river. In a serene and solemn atmosphere, the whole construction includes a gateway, a bronze statue of Qu Yuan, galleries with inscriptions, a museum and monument displaying calligraphy in the theme of Qu Yuan's poems.