Everyone knows about the Great Wall of China and most people know about the terracata warriors in Xi’an, but ancient Chinese wonders don’t stop there. If the Leshan Buddha is the cultural masterpiece of ancient Sichuan, Dujianyang is the engineering masterpiece.
2200 years ago, this area of Sichuan was flooding badly. Huge amounts of water were coming down the mountains, and would get trapped in a slow moving area that had a lot of silt. The area couldn’t be dammed because it was an important route for trade. So they came up with an alternative plan: they created a levee… By hand.
It took 10s of thousands of people 4 years to construct this levee. They did it by filling bamboo weaved baskets with rocks held up by 3 giant pieces of wood. They created a diversion in the water sending some of it down a canal dug out by heating and cooling stones until they cracked (this was done before dynamite!). After the rocks cracked, workers removed them by hand… One by one.
This levee did 2 awesome things. #1: it stopped the flooding that the area was experiencing. #2: it turned this area of Sichuan into the largest food-producing area of land in the country. The diverted water helped create and improve farmland. A true win-win!!!
The whole area is beautiful and we were lucky enough to finally experience some clear weather later on in the day. That’s when we really got to enjoy our day.
This was the first bit of nice weather we’d had on the trip so far, so we were pretty happy with it!
We eventually found our way out of the park and ended up seeing a beautiful bridge that led us to a great little market.
A tour of an irrigation area may not seem like all that much fun, but given that this structure is still here and being used 2200 years later (with some very good upgrades, of course…) – it’s probably worth a visit! Dujianyang is yet another incredible example of ancient Chinese brilliance!
I have 1 more post for Sichuan, and then we move onto Yunnan!!