Xiling Gorge starts at the western tip of Xiangxi Stream in Zigui and extends to the Nanjin pass in the east, about 47 miles. In the middle is Miaonankuangu, where the Three Gorges Dam is built on Zhongbao Island. At the western section we find the Military Book and Treasury Sword Gorge, and the Ox Liver and Horse Lung Gorge. In the east are Light Shadow Gorge and the Yellow Ox Gorge. Xiling Gorge is known for its strategic importance, and as a place of dangerous shoals. The landforms on the western shore of the gorge are varied. There are many rocks, caves, and streams.
Military Book and Treasury Sword Gorge
The gorge is situated on the northern shore of the Xiangxi River mouth. There is a huge rock shaped like a pile of books on a cliff over 328 feet above the river. It is called Military Book Rock. On the lower end of the cliff is a huge stone like a sword pointing downward into the water. Legend says that Zhuge Liang kept the military book and sword here. So this section is known as the Military Book and Treasury Sword Gorge.
East of the Ox Liver and Horse Lung Gorge there are the Kongling Gorge or Kongleng Gorge. The shoal or beach here was known as the Guimen or Ghost City Pass in the old days. The three shoals in the Three Gorges are the Xie Shoal, Qing Shoal and Kongling Shoal. Kongling Shoal has large and small rocks everywhere. Boats would often founder after hitting them. After reconstruction work the shoal is no longer a danger to visitors.
The Yellow Ox Rock Ecological Scenic Spot
Between the Three Gorges Dam and Gezhouba Lock is the Yellow Ox Rock Ecological Scenic Spot, which is 53 square miles in area. It is rich in scenic and cultural resources. Visitors can view the magnificent dam, a beautiful and secluded zone of gorges, steep cliffs and precipices and ancient limestone caves. There are five sub-divisions to the scenic spots including, Xiling 100-li Art Gallery, the Yellow Ox Ecological Tourist Zone, Stone Tablets Tourist Zone and Chexi Stream Tourist Zone.
The Yellow Ox Gorge
It is on the southern shore, east of Xiling Gorge. There is a huge rock shaped like a yellow ox on the southern bank. The river runs a very intricate course, the flow is rapid and there are many rocks. Boatmen have to take extra precautions when they travel through this section.
Light Shadow Gorge
It is also known as Mingyue (Bright Moon) Gorge. They form the east section of the Xiling Gorge. The passage is very narrow, with steep cliffs.
Yellow Ox Rock Tourist Zone
Yellow Ox Rock Tourist Zone is located on the southern shore, 0.6 mile from the Three Gorges Dam. Sights in the zone include Yellow Ox Rock, Huangling Temple, Xuanyuan Cave, and the site of an ancient mulberry plantation. The highest point is Yellow Ox Rock. Visitors who climb the rock will get an overall view of the great dam, gorge and lake.
The temple is on Yellow Ox Rock, originally called Yellow Ox Rock. It is said to be a celestial ox that helped Da Yu to conquer flood and reclaim land. After Song Dynasty, it was renamed Huangling Temple. The Hall of Emperor Yu contains an inscription written by Zhuge Liang. And there is much reference material on hydrogeology. Built against the mountain the temple is surrounded by citrus trees.
Ox Liver and Horse Lung Gorge
It is on the northern shore of the Yangtze. Endlessly flowing streams abound among rocks. Hanging from the cliff are limestone formations, two of which are in ochre color. They overlap each other and hang from above. One looks like an ox liver and the other like a horse lung.
Xiling 100-li Art Gallery
Xiling 100-li Art Gallery is between Three Gorges Dam and Gezhouba Lock It is made up of three sections: the Yellow Ox Gorge, Light Shadow Gorge (Mingyue Gorge), and the Yellow Cat Gorge (Yichang Gorge), commonly known as the three new gorges. They are flanked by cliffs on both sides, covered with green vegetation, and are full of cloud and fog. Visitors find the place rather mysterious, as if they were traveling across paintings. The art gallery is considered the most picturesque landscape in the whole of the 120 miles long Three Gorges.
Stone Tablets Tourist Zone
It is located at the Light Shadow Gorge, 10.5 miles from Yichang. There are rapids, grotesque rocks, unusual caves, a sweet water fountain, a secluded valley, as well as sites of Chinese resistance in the war against Japanese aggression. Other sights include Mingyue Bay, Shilingpai, and Light Shadow Cave. Many poems composed by literary figures of different dynasties can be seen here. A historical battle took place in Shipai in April, 1945 and was regarded as a Chinese Stalingrad. The tour includes aspects of the war of resistance for those interested in history.
Zhongbao Island in Sandouping (Miaonankuangu) is based on a granite formation. This sturdy structure is the reason why the island has been chosen for the base of the Three Gorges Dam. The project, now entering its Second Phase, will be completed in 2009. The island has a history that is full of mystery. It has never been submerged during floods. At one time floods submerged Huangling Temple, which stands much higher, but Zhongbao Island stayed intact.
This is the western exit of Xiling Gorge, and the eastern gate of the Three Gorges. Steep cliffs stand on both shores and the waterway is narrow. The pass has strategic importance and control of it has been bitterly contested. There is a saying that who controls the pass controls the passage to Shu and has Jinmen under their thumb. The rapid flow of the Yangtze ends at Nanjin Pass and after leaving it, the river widens to meander to the vast Jianghan Plain.
Lu You Fountain
Situated on the northern bank of Nanjin Pass is a small pool. Water flows into the pool from a fountain in the cliffs. Lu You, a poet and patriot of the Southern Song Dynasty visited the place. He boiled tea with the water from the fountain and enjoyed the taste so much that he wrote in praise of it.
Drum Beating Platform
There is a huge stone platform on the northern bank of Nanjin Pass, several dozens feet above the surface of the river. Legend says this is the place where Zhang Fei beat a drum and trained soldiers for battle. It is called Zhang Fei's drum beating platform. The People's Government of Yichang City erected a statue of Zhang Fei on the spot in 1984. The statue weighs 100 tons. Zhang Fei raises a sword with his left hand and grips a drumstick with his right, very much the hero.
Chexi Stream Scenic Zone
Chexi Stream is in Tucheng Township, Yichang 11 miles from the city center and there are seven areas, regarded as retreats from the stresses and strains of modern life. The main attraction is a place of perfect bliss. There are geological and ecological tours and three tours to enjoy popular local songs and dances, exhibitions of farm produce and an ancient workshop. The zone combines exploration, scientific investigation, summer leisure activities and local customs and folkways. It is a sort of back to nature trip.