Wu Xia Gorge (Witches Gorge)
The Wu Xia Gorge is 40km/25mi long in all; the western part belongs to the province of Sichuan, while the eastern section is in Hubei province. Because of the twelve mountain peaks along its bank - the highest being Fairy Mountain, dedicated to Yao Ji - and the superb panoramic views, this is regarded as the most beautiful of the three gorges.At the beginning of Wu Xia Gorge, near Wushan, the Daninghe river joins the Changjiang. From here visitors can make excursions to the Three Little Gorges (Longmen, Bawu and Dicui), which total 50km/30mi in length.Ancient coffins can be seen from the river in Bawu Gorge; these are stored some 500m/1650ft up in caves in the steep cliffs along the east bank.In Dicui Gorge, with its lush vegetation of bamboos and trees, there is an imposing waterfall. A ''boat coffin'', an example of an old burial custom, is housed in a hollow in the steep mountain face.
On Fairy Mountain, dedicated to Yao Yi, there stands a 7m/23ft high stone pillar in the shape of a woman, which is known as Fairy Peak. According to legend Yi, daughter of the Mother of Heaven Xi Wangmu, helped Da Yu, the ruler of the Chu kingdom, to prevent the river from flooding so frequently. Love blossomed between them, and Yi stayed one night with him in the Gaotang temple, of which now only a few ruins remain. At the northern foot of Fairy Mountain, on a flat rocky ledge known as the Shoushu Tai terrace, she is said to have given Da Yu instructions on how to tame the river.Near Fairy Peak lie the Peak of Pines (Songluan Feng) and Peak of the Immortals (Jixian Feng). On a steep mountain face below the latter stands a stele inscribed in a beautiful calligraphic hand with the words ''Chong Ya Die Zhang Wu Xia'' (''Wu Gorge with rocky faces one above the other and mountains one behind the other''). Legend has it that this inscription was the work of Zhuge Liang (also known as Kong Ming), the strategist and chancellor of the state of Chu during the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280).