ChinaOnYourMind: Yellow River/ Yangtze River/
The Yellow River runs tirelessly
day and night. It has nurtured The Chinese nation and bred the
Chinese civilization. Chinese people call it the Mother River.
From its place of origin passes Qinghai and Gansu, the mighty
Yellow River turns north at Ningxia's Shizuisha to Inner Mongolia.
Then it becomes mild and quiet. Its flow has brought the Mongolian
grasslands lushness and richness. The Yellow River is as important
to this piece of land as Niles is to Egypt.
Inner Mongolia is a wild and fascinating place with legendary
stories of Ginghis Khan and the mighty Mogolian army. In pleasantly
cool summer and autumn days, the vast grasslands beyond the
Great Wall of China are more graceful and enchanting. The beautiful
place nurtured a beautiful and strong people. Mongolian people
are born singers and dancers. Horse racing, wrestling and archery
are regarded as "the three skill of men".
Leaving the grasslands, the Yellow River heads south and pours
down to the Loess Plateau. The fierce water of the Yellow River
cuts the plateau into two pieces. The deep gorge it made becomes
the natural demarcation between Shanxi Province and Shaanxi
Province. This is the Jin-Shaan Gorge as it is usually called.
At the valley between Ji County of Shanxi and Yichuan County
of Shaanxi, the Yellow River created the Hukou Waterfall, the
second largest waterfall in China. The pouring water of the
Yellow River falls 70 meters onto the stone valley which is
only 40 meters in width, splashing high spray with thundering
On the Shanxi side of the Jin-Shaan Gorge, the landscape is
splendid and beautiful. The long history has left Shanxi abundant
cultural heritages and wonder tourist sites.
In the Jin-Shaan Gorge, the Yellow River is blocked by the Qin
Mountains and turns to the western Henan. Its rapid tidal waves
cut off the solid rocks at Shaan County and created the precipitous
At Mengjin County the Yellow River enters the grand plains created
by itself and then winds its way eastward. The huge amount of
silt the Yellow River brought from the Loess Plateau was deposited
in the plains and made the riverbed higher and higher and becomes
the world-famous "suspension river".
The ancient Chinese people lived for generations on this piece
land made by the Yellow River. They left us abundant cultural
heritages and relics. The ancient walls, tombs, architectures,
carved stones are scattered over the Central Plains. They are
like pearls inlaid on the Central Plains reflecting the glory
of the ancient Chinese civilization.
The Central Plains is a museum of the history of the Chinese
people. The culture relics unearthed from this part of China
span over 5,000 years, tracing back to the primative man age.
The Central Plains, the center of the land, was a place contested
by military forces during every dynasty. Many cities of this
area had been the capitals of various dynasties through out
The numerous famous cultural cities and historic sites in the
Central Plains form a colorful humane scenery, attracting visitors
from China and all over the world.
Leaving the Central Plains behind, The Yellow River arrives
at Shandong, a beautiful land famous for its own style of cuisine
and intellectuals, including Confucius.
In the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period,
the east part of Shandong was the Qi State and the west part
the Lu State. This is why Shandong is called "the land of Qi
At last, after traveling for 5,464 kilometers, the mighty torrent
of the Yellow River joins in the blue sea at the point between
Kenli County and Lijin County of Shandong. Although not the
largest or the most beautiful river in the world, the Yellow
River does bear special meanings to the Chinese people. Its
power and relentlessness have always been the inspiration for
generations of Chinese revolutionaries to forge forward.
Yangtze River and Three Gorges
Together with the Yellow
River, the Yangtze River is considered as the Chinese people's
lifeline. It can offer travelers many kinds of expeditions. The
river can be traveled by scheduled steamers or luxury cruise ships
for the 2,500 km between Chongqing and Shanghai. The travelers
can also make overland expeditions to trace the remote upper reaches
of the river - northern Yunnan, Tibet, and even as far as the
river's source in Qinghai.
For centuries, this great river also has been a great source of
catastrophic flooding in China. Chinese government is planning
a monstrous project to build a dam across the Three Gorges. The
dam is supposed to control the river's flooding problem and generate
electricity. However, this project also involves relocating a
million people and scores of historical sites. Therefore, it has
not been a controversy-free topic.
of the River
Before Emperor Qin Shihuang united China,
the Kingdom of Chu dominated the river from about 770 BC until
221 BC. It produced one of the most admired patriot-poet-statesman,
Quyuan, in Chinese history. It was his death that inspired the
first dragon boat races.
The Three Kingdom's period started about 220 AD and ended in 265
AD. The battles fought among the three contending kingdoms were
depicted vividly in the Chinese classic, The Tale of Three
Kingdoms. There are still many sites along the Yangtze River
that are associated with many famous battles fought then. Ask
about the famous Battle of the Red Cliffs west of Wuhan.
- The River
The journey downstream starts with the city of Chongqing. There
are many interesting sites to see in the small towns nearby: Fengdu
was known for a temple dedicated to the King of the Underworld;
Fuling was the site of the royal tombs of the fourth-century state
of Ba. Also look for Shiabozhai, a temple built on a 100-foot-high
rock that juts into the sky.
Continue going downstream, Wanxian is the overnight stop for the
scheduled steamers before they negotiate the Three Gorges by morning
light. Go check out the Taibai Rock, where the famous romantic
poet, Li Bai of Tang Dynasty is said to have stayed.
The next stop, Yunyang is also famous in stories from the Three
Kingdoms period (220-265).
- The Three
Baidicheng is the last city before you reach the first gorge,
the Qutang. It offers splendid views into the mouth of Qutang,
and has a temple which was originally dedicated to the mythical
Qutang Gorge was known to foreigners in the last century as 'The
Windbox' because of the light mist hanging between towering cliffs.
The next gorge is Wu Gorge with twelve peaks. The most renowned
peak is Goddess Peak (Shennu Feng), which is said to resemble
the figure of a maiden kneeling in front of a pillar.
Xiling Gorge, the longest of the three gorges, runs for 75 km
through slopes planted with orange groves. The shoals and rapids
within Xiling were the most treacherous of all obstacles in the
Three Gorges. Until the 1950s, boasts were hauled over them by
trackers, whose backbreaking job would guarantee them an exceedingly
short life span.
Yichang marks the end of the upper reaches of the Yangtze. Dongting
Lake, China's second largest freshwater lake, is not too far from
- The Lower
Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang are located close to each other
along lower Yangtze. Hankou was the city with the foreign concessions,
and to this day has remained the commercial center of Wuhan.
Wuchang is linked to an important event in Chinese revolutionary
history. It was here that the military uprising started and ultimately
toppled the Qing Dynasty.
Hanyang has two famous sights of its own, the Lute Pavilion and
the Buddhist Guiyuan Monastery. The monastery is an important
center for Zen Buddhism. It contains 500 carved and gilded luohans
(Buddhist disciples), which are considered works of great craftsmanship.
The next port is Jiujiang, which is the stop-over point during
visits to the mountain of Lushan mountain. Lushan Mountain offers
a cool retreat from the baking temperatures of the Yangtze plain.
The end of the Yangtze River is Yangzhou and Shanghai. See the
city sections for details on these two cities.