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Great Wall Across the Yangtze
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The River Tour

The Yangtze River

In 1997, filmmaker Ellen Perry set out to document the Yangtze River and its scenic and archeological splendors before they disappear forever beneath the reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam. She captured the beauty of the river and its people with her lens, sharing images that in less than a decade may never be seen again.

Embark on a tour and marvel in sacred temples of gold, an unusual 12-story pagoda and majestic mountains. Learn from Ellen's experience as she guides you on a special journey along the Yangtze.



Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is the embarkation point for most cruises through the famous Three Gorges. With a population of almost 15 million, it is the largest city in China today. When the Three Gorges Dam is completed, in 2009, the lower part of the city will be submerged and over 14,000 people will have been relocated.


The Danzishi Temple
The Danzishi Temple
Heading east from Chongqing, you get the first glimpse of an endangered archeological site. The Danzishi Temple is a Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 A.D.) Buddhist temple and is one of a kind in the Three Gorges region. The temple consists of two levels where statues of Buddhist deities from the past, present and future reside. Portions of the lower level will be lost beneath the reservoir's waters.


Fuling
Fuling
The first stop is the ancient town of Fuling. Over 2,000 years ago, Fuling functioned as the political center of the Ba kingdom. The Ba are an ancient people indigenous to the Three Gorges Region. Their discovery is so new to scholars that much of the writing found on excavated objects remains indecipherable. A great deal of the research into these enigmatic people is conducted here.


Baiheliang (White Crane) Engravings
Baiheliang (White Crane) Engravings

Just west of town lies the famous low-water calligraphy monument Baiheliang (White Crane Ridge). The inscriptions on the Yangtze's limestone riverbanks are only visible during rare occurrences of low water levels - approximately once a decade. Declared a national monument, Baiheliang engravings can be divided into 163 sections with over 30,000 characters. Most of the inscriptions date to the Song Dynasty (960-1280 A.D.). They include poems of travelers and accounts of boatmen and their navigational prowess.

Temple in Fengdu
Temple in Fengdu
The next stop is Fengdu. Revered by the Chinese as the City of Ghosts this fabled town, which sits on the north bank of the river, is swarmed with tourists perusing the temples erected to the gods of the underworld.

Shibaozhai, Pearl of the Three Gorges
Shibaozhai, Pearl of the Three Gorges

Further downstream we encounter another archeological site in need of preservation. Shibaozhai (Stone Precious Stockade) is a 12-story wooden pagoda which was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.). The vibrant red pavilion hugs the side of a 720-foot stone chute. The construction of the pagoda is so exquisite it is considered one of the eight most unique structures in the world and is called the Pearl of the Three Gorges. The town that lies 300 feet below the structure will be completely submerged, yet the reservoir's waters will touch only the base of the temple.

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