The Three Gorges are a brilliant
pearl on the Yangtze River. Thre Three Gorges cruise is very popular
among the tourists from all over the world.
The 6300 kilometers Yangtze River is the longest river in China
and the third longest river in the World. Originating from the Tuotuo
River at Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, it takes in numerous tributaries,
and flows eastward across China. At last it pours into the East
China Sea. The Yangtze River flows through Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan,
Hubei, Hunan, Jianngxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai. It has a drainage
area of 1.8million square kilometers. The Yangtze River is also
a cradle of ancient Chinese civilization.
The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River are known as “the natural
art gallery” due to their beautiful scenery. They extend from Baidicheng
(White King Town) in Fengjie County, Chongqing City to Nanjinguan
Pass in Yichang City, Hubei Province. All together they are 193
kilometers long. Each gorge has its specific features. Qutang Gorge
is noted for its steep crags on both sides of the river; Wuxia Gorge
is famous for its elegant fog shrouded mountain peaks; Xiling Gorge
is known for its numerous shoals and torrents.
of Three Georges
QutangGorge extends from Baidicheng
in the west to Daxizhen in the east. It is the shortest gorge just
with 8 kilometers but it is the most magnificent one of the Three
Gorges. Qutang Gorge is the gate on Yangtze River to control the
east part of Sichuna Province and west part of Hubei Province. With
over hanging precipices rising vertically on both sides, the gorge
is like a narrow corridor. The narrow water surface is less than
150meters. At the entrance stand two perpendicular cliffs facing
each other, this is much like two giant gates. The roaring water
is forced in between, which is like the horses stampeding. The fearsome
waterway is really spectacular. On the north bank of the gorge stands
Chijia Mountain which looks crimson. On the south bank stands Baiyan
Mountain which looks grayish white. The two mountains present a
sharp color contrast, which offers marvelous view. Baidicheng is
a famous ancient town which can date back to 2,000years ago. On
the cliff of Qutang Gorge you can see the Ancient Plank Road which
was built in the Qing Dynasty. Fengxiangxia (Bellows) Gorge was
placed with coffins of the ancient people of Ba Tribe. The grotesque
stones on the cliffs are also very impressive. One huge stalactite
around 20 meters high which is like a phoenix thus it is called
“phoenix drinking spring”. The legendary Mengliang Staircases and
the rock of “Monk Hanging by His Feet” are also pleasing your eyes.
Wuxia Gorge is the most mysterious
gorge. It stretches from Daning River estuary to Guandukou in Badong
County of Hubei Province. It is 44 km long. On both sides of the
gorge are craggy peaks. The gorge is zigzag which forms a meandering
scenic gallery. The famous and mysterious mountain peaks always
arouse people’s imaginations. Six peaks line the north bank namely
Shengquan, Jixian, Songluan, Shennu, Zhaoyun and Denglong. The other
six are on the south bank, three of them are visible namely Juhe,
Cuiping and Felong.
Jingtan, Qiyun and Shangsheng are hidden behind. The peaks are always
wreathed by mist. According to the legendary stories, the 12 peaks
were transformed by 12 nymphs. The Goddess Peak was transformed
by the youngest daughter of the Queen Mother of Western Heaven.
She stayed there to protect the boats through the gorge. There is
a small stone pillar standing aside the peak, which looks like a
silhouette of a beautiful girl viewing the river. It is the first
to greet the sun and the last to bid farewell. When it is wreathed
in the mist and rain she becomes much more attractive with the thin
gauze on her body.
Daning River is one tributary of Yangtze River. It joins Yangtze
River at Wuxia Gorge. It also has many shoals and whirling pools,
with precipitous mountains on both sides the scenery is like a landscape
painting. In many ways it is like the Three Gorges thus it gets
its name the Lesser Three Gorges.
Xiling Gorge is from Xiangxi
to Nanjinguan Pass. It is around 80 kilometers long. This gorge
is famous for its numerous hidden rocks and dangerous shoals such
as Blue Shoal, the Discharge Shoal and Kongling Shoal. The gorge
of the Sword and Book on Art of War is at the western part of Xiling
Gorge. It was said that the prime Minister
Zhuge Liang of the Shu State during the Three Kingdoms Period(220-280AD)
who stored the grain and the book on art of war there. The Cow’s
Liver and Horse’s Lung Gorge is name for the several pieces of yellow
stone slabs which look like the cow’s liver and horse’s lung. On
the bank of Kongling Gorge stand some rocks which look like a person
leading an ox. The Shadow Play Gorge is situated on the south bank
of Xiling Gorge, the four rocks sticking into the sky, which are
like the images of four characters in the Chinese mythical novel
“Pilgrimage to the West”. When viewed from distance, Monkey, Piggy,
Sandy and the Buddhist Monk silhouetted against the setting sun,
which are like a shadow play. Therefore it was called the Shadow
A side trip west from the Three Gorges can be taken
to Shibaozhai (Precious Stone Village), which is a huge rock over
30 meters high. It was said the rock was left by Nuwa who melt stones
to repair the sky. It is also called Jade Seal Hill due to its shape.
On top the hill is a temple which was built in the Qing Dynasty.
There is a 12 storey pagoda which contains stairs leading up to
the hill. You can climb to the top to have a panoramic view of the
Baidicheng (White King City) is also popular, which locates in the
east of Fengjie City. The name originated from Gongsun Shu, a magistrate
in the Western Han Dynasty. When he built the city he found a well
which emitted white vapor, which he associated with the flying of
a white dragon. Later on he named himself the White King. Thus the
city got its name White King Town. During the Three Kingdoms Period,
Liubei, King of the Shu State was at war with Kingdom of Wu. After
being defeated, he withdrew his tropes to this town. Later he died
of great despair. On his sickbed he entrusted his minister Zhuge
Liang to take care of his son Liu Shan. This story was well known
by Chinese people.
Fengdu (Ghost City), which is also called “Abode
of Ghosts”. Legends said” the dead come to Fendu and the devils
go to hell.” In the Tang Dynasty a lot of temples were built there
such as the Palace of Hell, Boundary of the living and dead, Bridge
of Helplessness, Ghost Torture Pass and etc. It is very exciting
and a little bit horrified to tour the ghost city. Some attractions
are very popular.
Bridge of Helplessness is a three-arched marble bridge. According
to superstitious stories, ghost of the dead who could stride across
the bridge in three steps was considered as a virtuous man when
he was alive while those who could not were considered villains.
They would drop down into the river below, and would forever be
deprived of choosing a new life. Ghost Torture Pass is the last
test before entry to the nether world. Temples display instruments
of torture and horrible demon images.
Generally speaking, the three Gorges Cruise Tour sometimes includes
sightseeing in ChongQing and Wuhan. In Chongqing you can visit the
Stillwell Museum or go to see the Stone Carving of Dazu. In Wuhan
you will see the Yellow Crane Tower. Some tourists even go to see
Chengdu where there are many tourist attractions such as Emei Mountain,
the Zoo and Leshan Buddha Statue.
The Three Gorges Project
From Dr. Sun Yat-sen to Chairman Mao China’s leaders were longing
for exploiting the Three Gorges. In order to realize this dream,
several generations of hydropower workers diligently surveyed the
land and deliberately did the research and designs on the subjects
of hydrological and geological conditions, the location of the dam,
the settlement of the local people and sludge-removing, etc. At
last “the Resolution on the Construction of the Three Gorges Project”
was approved by the fifth conference of the Seventh National People’s
Congress on April 3rd, 1992.
The whole project will experience three periods with 17 years (1992-2009).
It is the largest water conservancy project ever built in China,
and so in the world. The total investment will exceed 25billion
USD. Chinese government will relocate around 1 million people. It
is the largest project of 20th century.
The Big Dam
The dam site is situated at Sandouping of yichang City, Hubei Province,
about 40 km upstream from the existing Gezhouba Project. It has
the normal pool level (NPL) at 175 m, the total storage capacity
of the reservoir is 39.3 billion m3. The dam is of a concrete gravity
type. The total length of the dam axis is 2, 309 meters and with
the height of elevation of 185meters. On the bottom it is 124 meters
wide, on the top it is 15 meters wide. TGP mainly consists of the
big dam, power plants, navigation facilities (permanent ship lock),
and spillway dam.
Three Gorges Big Dam
Benefits of the Three Gorges Project
TGP is a multi-purpose hydro-development project producing comprehensive
benefits mainly in flood control, power generation and navigation
TGP is the most important project functioning as a backbone in the
flood control system to protect the area in the middle and lower
reaches of the Yangtze River. Its favorable geographical location
makes it possible to effectively control the huge flood water from
the upstream of the Yangtze.
With a 22.15 billion m3 of flood control storage capacity of the
reservoir, the flood control capability of the Jingjiang River section,
the most critical section in flood control, would be able to be
improve from the present 10--year frequency flood to the 100--year.
And so would it create favorable conditions for a thorough rehabilitation
and improvement of the Dongting Lake area. Under the protection
of the dam, 23million farming land, 15 million people’s lives and
the Jingguang, Jingjiu Railway will be safe.
Being provided with a total installation of generating capacity
of 18, 200 MW, and with an average annual output of 84.68 billion
Kilowatt hours, TGP will supply a large proportion of its electricity
to East China, Central China and a small proportion to the east
Sichuan province and Chongqing Municipality. This means a replacement
of 40 to 50 million tons of raw coal combustion each year. And this
reliable, cheap and renewable energy will play a very important
role in the development of economy and the prevention of environmental
The 660km long waterway from Yichang City to Chongqing Municipality
will obviously be improved after the completion of the TGP reservoir,
making it possible for 10, 000 tons of barge fleet to sail upstream
directly to the harbor of Chongqing. Thus, an increase of annual
one-way navigation capacity from present 10 million tons to 50 million
tons, and a decrease of the navigation cost from 35 % to 37 % will
be reached. With the regulation of the reservoir, the minimum flow
downstream of Yichang in the dry season will be increased from the
present 3,000 m3/s to over 5, 000 m3/s, which will obviously improve
the navigation condition in the dry season in the middle reaches
of the Yangtze River.
The project will, for certain, promote the development of fishery
in the reservoir, tourism and recreational activities. It will evidently
improve the water quality of the middle and lower reaches of the
river during the dry season and create favorable conditions for
the South-to-North Water Transfer.