Wu Gorge in Three Gorges


Below Wushan the river approaches the entrance to the 40-kilometre (25-mile) long Wu Gorge, the middle Yangtze gorge that straddles Chongqing municipality and Hubei Province. So sheer are the cliffs that it is said the sun rarely penetrates. The boat passes, on the south side, the Golden Helmet and Silver Armour Gorge (JinKuang Yinjia Xia) shaped, it is said, like an ancient warrior's silver coat of arms crowned by a round golden helmet. Ahead are the 12 peaks of Wu Gorge, famed for their dark and somber grace. Poets have made many attempts to evoke both their bleakness and beauty. The Goddess Peak is the most famous one with different versions of stories. More often than not these green-clad peaks are hidden by swirls of cloud and mist , and are difficult to distinguish, though each has its own characteristics and posture. Whitewashed villages cling to the mountain terraces that produce grain crops and fruits - oranges, apples, apricots, and chestnuts.

It takes twenty minutes to go from the county seat of Wushan to Lu You Cave by boat. Lu You (1125-1210), a well-known poet of the Southern Song Dynasty, once served as an official at Kuizhou. The stalactite cave is named after this poet who passed through the Three Gorges twice and wrote 37 pomes. Tourists can stand on a platform in front of the cave to enjoy the scene below.

Zigui

On the day of the Dragon Boat Festival (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month ), the people of Zigui gather along the riverside early in the morning to watch the boat races, one way to commemorate the poet Qu Yuan who, as the story  goes, threw himself into the river in order to protest against injustice. The mourning local people hoping to find his body beat drums to scare away fish and console the soul of the dead and dropped zongzi, glutinous rice dumplings, into the water in the wish that fish would feast on the zongzi rather than on  Qu. Over the years, this has gradually evolved into the Dragon Boat Festival with people eating zongzi on that day. What is fascinating about this particular race is that at the bow of each boat, there is a man singing for the purpose of calling back the soul of the deceased.

Zigui County in Hubei, situated in the Xiangxi Valley, was once the home of Qu Yuan, the great poet of the State of  Chu in the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C). To memorialize him, a museum has been built outside the east end of the county seat. This structure was built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The stone figure of the poet is displayed here

Baoping Village of Xingshan County at the upper reaches of Xiangxi River is the home of Wang Zhaojun of the Western Han Dynasty who was married to a Hun ruler in order to establish peace. If you set off from QuYuan's birthplace, Sanlu Village, by car, you will reach Baoping in two hours. Though well off the beaten track, Wang Zhaojun's home is frequented by admiring visitors. Nearby, there are many places commemorating her. A few years ago, a beautiful statue of Wang Zhaojun was also dedicated.

 

There are two villages inhabited by Tujia people standing by the Shennong River. Together called Longchuanhe, the villages, 7.5 kilometers apart, have a population of 300 people. Though rather scattered, the villagers gather to dance all night on the  occasion of a funeral whether they were closely acquainted or not.

 

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