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Home >>> China Travel Guide >>> Chongqing and the Three Gorges

Abrreviated as “Yu”, Chongqing is located in the center of Northwestern China where the Yangtze river and Jialing river meet. It became the fourth municipality directly under the central government in 1997. With an area of more than 82,300 square kilometers, Chongqing has a total population of 30 million, including Hans, Huis, Miaos, Tujias and other ethnic peoples.
Situated in the eastern part of Sichuan basin, Chongqing is

screened by mountains in three sides of north, east and south, hence the nickname, “ The Mountain City”. The Yangtze river cross the province from southwest to northeast, and cuts through mountains. Here the river course suddenly narrows and the waters become turbulent. Sheer cliffs and steep mountains rise on either side, creating one of nature’s most fantastic sights --- the three gorges. Situated in the subtropical zone with a monsoon climate, Chongqing is hot and suffocating in summer, and is called one of the three “heating stoves” on the Yangtze river. Chongqing is also known as a “Fog City” due to the fact that it is wet and foggy in winter and spring, and it has 100 to 150 foggy days averagely in one year.

Chongqing enjoys a time-honored history. it is one of the famous chinese cities endowed with historical and cultural significance. During the spring and autumn and the warring state periods, it belonged to the state of ba; It was in the territory of Yuzhou in the Sui and Tang dynasties, and became the capital of the state of daxia during the late Yuan dynasty. In 1927, Chongqing is incorporated as a city. During the war of resistance against Japan, it was the “provisional capital” of China under the Kuomintang’s rule. Major attractions include Dazu rock carvings, one of the unesco’s world heritage sites, Yangtze river’s three gorges, revolutionary memorial hall of the red crag village, Bai’s mansion and Pipa (loquat) mountain. 

The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River

    The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, a well-known tourist attraction, start at Baidicheng in Fengjie County in the west and end at Nanjingguan Pass in Yingchang to the east, passing through Badong, Zigui counties and Yichang City in Hubei Province. The total length is about 193 kilometers. Apart from the Daning River Valley and the Xiangxi Valley, the three gorges themselves are 93 kilometers long. The first gorge of the three from west to east, known as Qutang Gorge, is 7 kilometers. Wuxia Gorge, the second one, runs from west to east for 44 kilometers. Xiling Gorge, the last one of the three, covers a distance of 42 kilometers.
    The steep mountains, the dangerous rugged shoals and the turbulent waters are characteristic of the gorges. The almost vertical cliffs and grotesque peaks with clouds wrapping them in a blanket of mist create one of nature’s most majestic sights.

    The area of the gorges was also one of the cradles of Chinese culture of in ancient time. Here two famous characters were born in Chinese history; Qu Yuan (340 –278BC), a great patriotic poet and statesman of the third century BC and Wang Zhaojun in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC –23AD), who did her bit for the promotion of the national unity, as well as a host of great poets in history, such as Li Bai (701 –762), Du Fu (712 –770), Bai Juyi (772 –846), Lu you (1125 –1210) and Su Shi (1037 –1101). All of them greatly admired the beautiful and charming landscape and wrote down quite a number of poems.

    Actually, the gorges themselves are a long poem, a mysterious natural gallery. Qutang Gorge is famous for its magnificent precipices, which form a colossal, nearly perfect gate to curb the river. Wuxia Gorge, with soaring mountain peaks rising stately from the riverbanks, is severe and secluded and presents a panorama of lovely scenery. Xiling Gorge is noted for its numerous hidden rocks and perilous shoals. The picturesque scenery along the river, which never fails to appeal to visitors, will surely make visitors admire the mysterious creative power of nature.

    Sailing down the Yangtze River from Chongqing to Yichang, Hubei province allows visitors to see the spectacular scenery of the Three Gorges along with its splendid cultural heritage and fabled local folklore. The cruise, which combines sightseeing with scientific, artistic and folklore exploration, is a national-caliber tourist program. The 193-km-long Three Gorges is one of the world’s major canyons. Along the way there are such major scenic attractions: the Fengdu Mountain, Zhang Fei’s Temple, Qu Yuan’s Temple and the Three Gorges Dam.

Daning River Excursion: The Three Little Gorges

    The Daning River is the largest Yangtze tributary, which rises in the southern side of the Daba Mountain and flows for 250 km before emptying itself into the Yangtze at the western entrance to the Wuxia Gorge. The Lesser Three Gorges on the Daning River, a 50-km-long affair covering the Longmenxia, Bawuxia and Dicuixia Gorges in the lower reaches of the river, is billed as one of China’s 40 best scenic resorts thank so to its gorgeous mountains, elegant peaks, turbulent rapids, limpid water, exotic rock imagery and serene scenery
Dazu Rock Carvings

Dazu Rock Carvings, located 163 kilometers away from Chongqing Municipality, is one of five major grottoes in China. The carvings stared in 892 and completed by the end of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 –1278) lasting more than 250 years. They are the excellent works of rock carvings produced during the later period of grotto arts in China.In Dazu County, more than 50,000 pieces of carved rock figures are scattered 75 major sites in an area of 1,390 square kilometers. Those carved out of the rocks at Beishan

(North Hill), the Baodingshan (Precious Peak Hill) and Nanshan (South Hill) are most concentrated in number, the largest in scale, the finest in craftsmanship and the richest in contents.

Dazu Rock Carvings, mainly consisting-of Buddhist images, are the commented as the “Oriental Carved Bible”. However, there are also separate areas of Confucian and Taoist images, and caves in which the founders of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism are placed together. Besides, there are statures of a commemorative nature of historical personages. What makes Dazu rock carvings unique is the large amount of statues, the refined carving techniques, the diversified subjects, the rich content and the excellent conservation. On June 22,2000, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO presented Dazu the title of “World Heritage Site”.


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