Three Gorges of Changjiang River Changjiang Sanxia
Scenically the most beautiful section of the Changjiang is the 200km/125mi stretch between Fengjie, a small town 260km/160mi east of Chongqing, and Yichang in the province of Hubei. This stretch used to be difficult to navigate, and during high water not possible at all, because of its raging torrents and numerous shallows. To move up-river, boats had to be towed.
Qutang Xia Gorge is the narrowest and shortest gorge of the Three Gorges. It has a number of scenic destinations including temples and the ruins of the City of the White Emperor.
Xiling Xia Gorge
Xiling Xia Gorge, 450km/280mi east of Chongqing in Hubei province, is nearly 80km/50mi long, making it the longest of the three gorges. It has some dangerous shallows, heavy rapids and numerous reefs. Its bank are strewn with countless rock formations with the strangest of names - these include the Gorge of Military Writings and The Sword (Bingshu Baiojian Xia), where can be seen a rock protruding from the ground like a sword (General Zhuge Liang is said to have hidden here a textbook he had written when he was unable to find a suitable successor), the Gorge of Ox Livers and Horses' Tongues (Niuganmafei Xia) and the Gorge of the Yellow Cow (Huangniu Xia). At the bottom of the latter stands a temple with the same name, which dated originally from the Han period (206 BC-AD 220) and was rebuilt in 1618.
On the north bank, about 50km/30mi east of the exit from the gorge, lies the little town of Xiangxi (Fragrant River), named after the river which flows by it. A legend has grown up around this picturesque name: more than 2000 years ago Wang Zhaojun lived here; she was a beautiful woman who washed her garments in the river and thus in the course of time gave the waters a lovely fragrance.