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Qutang Gorge

Qutang Gorge with colourful flowers in ChongqingBelow White Emperor City will be the Qutang Gorge, the first of the three gorges of the Yangtze River, and the one famous for its sheer and spectacular precipices. When you visit Qutang Gorge, you will find uniquely beautiful natural sights greeting you from each direction. In this section, the Yangtze River carves its way through the gorge between the sheer precipices that frame both sides of the river.

The widest point of Qutang Gorge is more than 150 meters (500 feet) and its narrowest point is about tens of meters. Two mountains, the Red Passage Mountain (Chijia Shan) to the north and the White Salt Mountain (Baiyan Shan) to the south, both of them form the Kui Men entrance (Kui Gate). The steep precipices form a giant door where the tumultuous Yangtse bursts through in an exciting rush of rolling and roaring water.

Attractions along Qutang Gorge

On the precipice of White Salt Mountain is Meng Liang Stairway - a series of holes nearly a meter (3 feet) apart and about one-third of a meter deep, forming a 'Z' shape. It is the typical model of Ancient Plank Road in Qutang Gorge. Directly below is a rock that appears to have a human form, and is known as Hanging Monk Rock (Daodiao Heshangshi). If you look over the monk's head, above the top of this rock, you will see Armour Cave (Kuijia Dong) where it is said that a Song-Dynasty female general hid weapons. During an excavation of this cave in 1958, three 2,000-year old wooden coffins from the ancient Kingdom of Ba were removed. This proved that the Yangtze River region is one of the sites of early human activity. To the east of Armour Cave (on the south side), there is a distinctive black rock on the top of which is Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon.

Near the Meng Liang Stairway of Qutang Gorge is the Drinking Phoenix Spring, a stalagmite in the shape of a phoenix drinking the sweet spring--water. Nearby is the Chalk Wall (Fengbi Tang) where 900 characters, dating from the Song dynasty, have been carved by famous calligraphers on the rock face. The site derives its name from the limestone powder which was used to smooth rock surfaces before being carved.  

On the north side of Qutang Gorge, opposite Meng Liang Stairway, is a coffee-coloured precipice called Bellows Gorge (Fengxiang Xia). The name refers to some square configurations in the rock face, which were supposed to be Qutang Gorge with green moutain around in Chongqingbellows used by Lu Ban, the god of carpenters. In 1971 the secret of Bellows Gorge was revealed, when ancient suspended wooden coffins, similar to those found in the Armour Cave, were discovered in the caves of the precipice. Some of these have been moved to museums, but three remain and can be seen from the river.

Wise Grandmother's Spring (Shenglao Quan) in a rock crevice on the southern bank of Qutang Gorge was, according to legend, created by an immortal grandmother from heaven for thirsty travellers. They had only to call out to the spring 'Worthy Grandmother, a drink!' and water would gush for a moment from the rock.

East of Armour Cave (on the south side), on the top of a black rock of Qutang Gorge, is a huge stone which the Chinese say resembles the body of a rhinoceros looking westwards as if forever enjoying 'the autumn moon over the gorge gate'. They call this rock Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon.

Below Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon, at the eastern end of Qutang Gorge, is the town of Daxi. This is the best place for those who love archeology to explore the Daxi Culture - one of China's primitive cultures that originated over 5000 years ago. This culture that developed along the river was a later period matriarchal clan community that evolved to patrilineal community.  

Qutang Gorge Tour

Below Daxi, the river widens out. About 5 kilometers downstream, on the south bank, are two sharp, black peaks, which form the Unlocked Gates Gorge (Cuokai Xia). On the east side is a thick, round stone pillar, called Binding Dragon Pillar (Suolong Zhu). Other scenic spots in this section include "Iron Lock Pass" and "Water Stealing Hole", etc.