Home : China Attractions: Yangtze River: Three Gorges

Qutang Gorge

 Ancient Plank Road

All along the Gorges you can see ancient plank roads hanging on the cliffs. Clinging to cliffs along ten kilometers (6.2 miles) of Qutang Gorge, 30 km (18.6 miles) along Wu Gorge, and several kilometers along Xiling Gorge, these plank roads which include roads, stone bridges, hurdles and iron chains were built during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Only by seeing how precipitous the mountains are can you realize how difficult it must have been for ancient people to create these plank roads without modern machinery. Especially mysterious is their method of cutting rock under such incredible challenges.

After the roads were completed, people could travel or transport not only by boats, but also on foot through the plank roads. An enormous eight-character inscription on the cliffs reads 'Cloud Stairway' and 'initialize wondrous feat'.

 Bellows Gorge (Fengxiang Xia)

About two kilometers (1.24 miles) from Baidi City is Bellows Gorge. A rock above the cracks of the yellow-brown cliffs resembles a bellows and was said to be the possession of Lu Ban, the great master of carpenters; thus this passage became Bellows Gorge.

As the bellows rock hangs dozens of meters up the cliff, one can hardly reach it. Coffins affixed to the rocks tempted adventurers to risk the ascent. It is said that during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), someone succeeded in climbing up to take the coffins; however, the officials ordered their return in case their removal offended the immortals. They lay undisturbed until 1971 when two herb-picking climbers ascended Bellows Rock again and unveiled the enigma: positioned on the rock were two coffins from the Qin (221 BC - 206 BC) or Han Dynasties (206 BC - 220) when hanging coffins on cliffs was a popular Sichuan burial rite. Through this discovery, historical treasures were added, including copper swords, axes, straw sandals and banliang qian (metal coins) of the Han Dynasty. 

 Daxi Culture

The Daxi Cultural Site is in the east end of Qutang Gorge, 45 km (28 miles) from Wushan County and 15 km (9.3 miles) from Fengjie County. From 1959 to 1975, archaeologists excavated three times finding 208 graves with pottery and stoneware of matrilineal and patrilineal societies. Among them, the red pottery ware was most abundant, followed by gray and black pottery. Through those valuable relics from over 5,000 years ago, we can study the life of Chinese ancestors.

 Meng Liang Stairway

On the south bank cliff of Qutang Gorge is a range of square stone caves about 30 cm (11.8 inches) deep and 27 cm (10.6 inches) wide. These caves extend upwards to form a zigzag. The native people called them Mengliang Stairway.

Legend has it that the famous general Yang Jiye was framed and killed by a treacherous official and that his body was buried in the mountainside. His janissary, Meng Liang, decided to steal his body back. So every night he boated into the Qutang Gorge,and chiseled stone holes till dawn in order to climb up one day. As he worked hard in the waist of the cliff, an old monk found him and imitated a cockcrow. Meng Liang was misled to thinking that day had broken, so he stopped chiseling, all his efforts wasted. In a fury, he killed the monk and hung him inversely. People believed that the rock extruding like a barefooted man was the monk and named it the 'Rock of the Inversely Hanging Monk'.

In fact, these holes on the rock are the remains of an ancient plank road, and the rock resembling a monk is a stalactite.

 Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon

Passing by the Bellows Gorge, you can see the Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon on a peak of mountains north of the Yangtze. Seen from a distance, huge rocks appear to be a powerful rhinoceros looking at the moon in the west. Set off by the clean blue sky, it forms a silhouette hanging in the gorges.