Yangtze River is the longest river in China and the third in the world. It originates from the southeast of Danggula Mountains, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It’s about 6,300 km, running across more than 18 million square kilometers. Yangtze River, whose water capacity is twenty times as much as Yellow River’s, is just third to the Amazon River and the Congo River which have larger water capacity.
Yangtze river has thousands of branches, 49 of which are the main branches, such as Yalongjiang (Yalong River), Mingjiang (Mingjiang River), Jialingjiang (Jialing River), Wujiang (Wujiang River) and Hanjiang (Hanjiang River). The Chinese freshwater lakes are mainly placed between the middle reaches and the lower reaches of Yangtze River, such as Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake, Da Lake (Big Lake), Chao Lake and so on.
Yangtze River also named their water courses differently. There are two rivers above the Batang River mouth of Yushu County, Qinghai Province., named Tuotuo River and Tongtian River; a river from Batang River mouth to Mingjiang River mouth of Yibin, Sichuan Province, called Jinsha River ; a river from Yibin to Yichang, Hubei province named Chuan Jiang River ; a river near the Three Gorges of Yangtze River called Xiajiang River; a river from Zhi City of Hubei Province to Lingfan, Yueyang City, Hunan Province called Jingjiang River; another river below the Yangzhou Town River of Jiangsu Province called Yangtze Jin Ferry in ancient times, but now named Yangtze River, whose site is below the lower reaches of Yangtze River in Wuhan.
The Three Gorges of Yangtze River
We can say that the Three Gorges is a masterpiece of nature. There are many beautiful legends about its formation. The most typical story is “Da Yu harnesses the river”. It’s said that in the earliest times Yangtze River’s main branch is not running through the Three Gorges, but through the Censhui (Cen water) in the south of the river. Because of the heavy flood at that time, Da Yu determined to remove Wu Shan (Wu Mountain) so that the river could flow north and run into the north five lakes (Dongting Lake, Poyang Lake, Tai Lake, Hongze Lake and Chao Lake). From then on, Three Gorges’ water flowed smoothly.
Three Gorges combines the mountains, rivers and natural sceneries together perfectly. And among the top five Gorges in the world, Three Gorges is the only one that people can view the whole scenery on cruise ships.
Yangtze River Natural Scenery
The Three Gorges of Yangtze River starts at the Baidi City (White Emperor City), Fengjie County, Chongqing in the west and ends at Nanjing juncture, Yichang County, Hubei Province in the east running 193,000 km. Qutang Gorge, Wu Groge and Xiling Gorge are the three main gorges of the Yangtze river.
Yangtze River map.
Qutang Gorge of Yangtze River
Qutang Gorge is the shortest gorge of the three gorges. It extends from White Emperor City in Fengjie County, Sichuan Province to Daxi Stream in Wushan County, Sichuan Province, with a distance of only 8 kilometers. Qutang Gorge, which is the shortest, the sheerest and the most dangerous gorge among the three gorges, is famous for its scenery and great force. When you enter the gorge, you’ll see the sheer mountains on both sides seem to be formed by axes or swords because the structures of mountains seem to be cut by axes or swords. Some of the main mountains in the gorge are 1,500 meters high. The waterways between two mountains are about 100 meters long and the narrowest waterway is less than 100 meters. Especially, in the west of the Qutang Gorge, Kuimen (Kui Gate) is the most magnificent mountain.
There are many great places in Qutang Gorge. At the upstream of the gorge mouth, there are Fengjie Old City, Yufuta (Yufu Tower) and Bazhentu (Bazhen Pictures). In the north, there is White Emperor City storing so many cultural relics, dangerous Guzhandao, mysterious Fengxiangxia (Fengxiang Gorge).
In the south, there are Fenbiqiang (Whitewashed Wall), Mengliangti (Mengliang Ladder), Daodiaoheshang (Upside Down Monk) and Kuijiadong (Armour Cave). To the south of the downstream of Fengxiang Gorge, a mountain is protruding at the riverside. It’s called “Rhinoceros Watching the moon”. I think this metaphor is very apt. Go out of Qutang Gorge, the very place that archaeologists are interested in is the Daxi culture relics in the south of the Qutang Gorge Mouth. Moreover, Dufu Thatched Cottage, which is only several kilometers far from the White Emperor City, attracts many poets.
Wuxia Gorge is also called “Daxia (Huge Gorge)”, which is famous for its “elegance”. It extends from Daning River Mouth in the east side of Wushan County to the Ferry in Badong County with a distance of more than 40 kilometers, including Jinkuijiaxia (Gold Helmet Gorge) and Tieguanxia (Iron Coffin Gorge). Inside the Wushan Gorge, you’ll also see some beautiful sites including the three Platforms which are Chuyang Platform, Shoushu Platform and Zhanlong Platform.
There is also the eight sceneries which are Nanlingchunxiao, Xiyangfanzhao, Ninghewandu, Qingxiyudiao, Xiufengchansha, Nuguanzhenshi, Zhaoyunmuyu, and Chengtanqiuyue. There are also twelve peaks such as Shengquan Peak, Denglong Peak, Chaoyun Peak, Shennv Peak or Goddess Peak, Songluan Peak, Feifeng Peak, Cuiping Peak, Juhe Peak, Jingyun Peak, Qiyun Peak, Shangsheng Peak, and Juxian Peak.
the twelve peaks are especially spectacular. These strange-looking peaks are like a fairy maids dancing. Among them, Goddess Peak is the most poetic peak. Many poets had written about this peak in their tales and poems.
In Wuxia Gorge, there are three famous historic sites. They are Wushan, Badong and Zigui. Wushan is at the entrance of Wuxia Gorge, while Badong and Zigui are in the broad valley of Xiangxi (Fragrant Stream). Because in the East Han Dynasty, the great poet Quyuan and the beautiful woman Wangzhaojun lived in Zigui, now more and more tourists are visiting this gorge.
Xiling Gorge, is well-known for “danger”, extends from Xiangxi Mouth of Zigui County in the west and ends at Nanjin Pass of Yichang City. It stretches for about 76 kilometers and is the longest gorge in the three gorges. The whole area of this gorge divides into two parts: Gaoshanxiagu (High Mountain Gorge) and Xiantan (Dangerous Shoals).
Looking from west to east, you can see some shoals, such as Qingtan Shoal, Xietan Shoal, Kongling Shoal and so on. Among these shoals, Konglin Shoal is very famous and dangerous. The local people always say, “Qingtan Shoal and Xietan Shoal are not real Shoals compared with the Hell Gate of Kongling Shoal.” Apart from these shoals, Xiling Gorge is offers other famous scenic spots such as:
- Tactics Book and Sword Gorge
- Bull’s Liver and Horse’s Lung Gorge
- Kongling Gorge
- Dengying Gorge or Shadow Play Gorge
- Huangling Temple
- Three Traveler’s Cave
- Luyou Spring