Dujiangyan Irrigation System near Chengdu

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China

Located 65 kilometres west of Chengdu – southwest of the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project – Qingcheng Shan is a brilliant daytrip possibility; the mountainside is not unlike Emei Shan with its a variety of trails lined with Chinese fir, cypress, gingko, palm, pine and plum trees.

The weather is also better than Emei Shan and the views are seldom blocked by the foggy mists – plus this mountainside is far easier to climb. The four-hour trek to Qingcheng’s highest peak, the 1,260 metre Laoxiao Peak is well worth the effort and it’s the perfect spot to get an overall view of the park.

The Dujiangyan Irrigation Project has become an often-visited feature in this Sichuan Province area – it has even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan Overview

Although the 2008 earthquake caused grave damage to Qingcheng Shan – including the resultant dry lake – these mountains remain a popular Chengdu sightseeing attraction. Day-trippers are a common sight as they crowd the cable-car – the easiest way to reach the peak – as well as the trails snaking up the mountainside. Visitors looking to spend more than a day or two on this mountainside, will not be disappointed as there is a string of hotels leading up to the main gate.

The temples on Qingcheng Shan are particularly picturesque, especially Shangqing Temple; there are hawker stalls selling genuine Sichuan snacks along the Qingcheng Shan trails as well as a popular restaurant.

The area is more especially known for the ancient yet technologically-evolved Dujiangyan Irrigation Project; this scientific marvel provides the vital passage that joins mountain and plain. Dujiangyan is home to a beautiful landscape as well as cultural relics and historical sites, including the Fulong Temple, Erwang Miao, and the trail bridge.

Dujiangyan Irrigation Project

The Dujiangyan Irrigation Project was initiated by a third century BC administrator/engineer Li Bing who sought to tame the swiftly-flowing waters of the Min River in an effort to stem the flow of water from destroying the surrounding area. Floods and droughts were common quandaries at the time and Li Bing came up with the idea of diverting the water into irrigation canals. In effect he ended up protecting and preserving the Chéngdū Plain – long before the technology existed to make this an easy task. These days the project is an ongoing and ever-modernising development; once it spanned over one million hectares of land yet as the years have gone by and constant improvement and expansion has caused it to encompass three million hectares since 1949. Erwang Miao – a peak which is home to an effigy of Li Bing and Er Lang, his son, who helped his father in his efforts – is the best spot to get an overall view of the area.

Though a 2008 earthquake caused extensive damage to the Dujiangyan region, the continued irrigation project happily has resulted in temples and many heritage buildings in the area to be reopened although the surrounding park sustained much damage that has yet to be rectified. From time to time visitors lament that entrance fees are exorbitant and that the park lacks proper signage to guide visitors around the park and explain the history of the various sights.

Mount Qingcheng Highlights and Features

  • Golden Whip Rock: The rock face is unique due to its many crags, steep peaks and colourful flowers in hues of yellow and ochre.
  • Jianfu Palace: Originally constructed in the Tang Dynasty this site can be found beneath the Zhangren Peak.
  • Shangqing Palace: Constructed during the Jin Dynasty, this palace is famous for its ornate and unique wooden carvings by Taoist master, Laozi.
  • Shangqing Temple: Set in the forest this charming temple is a well-known sight at the top of the mountain.
  • Thousand-year Old Gingko Tree: Considered a key attraction on Qīngchéng Shān, this maidenhair tree is located on the side of Tianshi Temple.
  • Tianshi Temple: Originally built during the Sui Dynasty, this temple is located approximately 2,000 metres from the Jianfu Temple.
  • Zibi Canyon: This 70 metre-deep, 18 metre-wide canyon is a truly spectacular sight with many legends associated with it.

Dujiangyan Irrigation Project Highlights and Features

  • Anlan Suspension Bridge: The bridge extends across the full width of the river and connects with the artificial island and is known as one of the Five Ancient Bridges of China.
  • Baopingkou: Also known as Bottleneck Channel, this is the final part of the system which dispenses water to the farmlands in the west and also acts as a check gate, creating a whirlpool flow that carries away the excess water to safeguard against flooding.
  • Erwang Miao: For a good overall view of the area, climb to the top of Two Kings Temple which also houses an effigy of Li Bing and his son, Er Lang.
  • Feishayan: Also known as Flying Sand Weir, this 200 metre-wide opening connects and drains excess water from the interior stream to the outer stream.
  • Yuzui: Also known as Fish Mouth Levee this artificial levee resembles the mouth of a fish and was part of Li Bing’s original construction; it splits the water flow into the interior and outer streams.

Good to Know and What Not to Miss

  • Since the 2008 earthquake there are great sections of the park as well as a few sights that have been temporarily closed down.
  • It’s a good idea to spend half a day on Qingcheng Shan and then proceed to Dujiangyan to explore.
  • Opening Hours:
    Qingcheng Shan: 08:00 – 17:50
    Dujiangyan Irrigation Project: 08:00 – 18:00
  • Price Range:
    Qingcheng Shan – Y90
    Dujiangyan Irrigation Project – Y90
    Cable car ticket price Qingcheng Shan – Y60

Dujiangyan Irrigation Project

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