The Treasure of Sichuan

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.

It might not look like much, but let me explain!

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.

I forgot to take a photo, so I had to steal this one from the internet. Thanks internet!!!

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.

They slowly chipped away at the rocks to allow the water to move into a new area.

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!!!

It was raining, but we were prepared with our rain jackets!

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.

The rain DID give the area a very misty and surreal feel… But we were happy for the sun to come out!
It turns out there are beautiful grounds surrounding the levee
There were plenty of beautiful trees to admire, as well as koi ponds and gardens
In the distance, there were pagodas, and of course, the river itself is beautiful (and VERY fast!!)

This was the first bit of nice weather we’d had on the trip so far, so we were pretty happy with it!

The raincoats came off!

We eventually found our way out of the park and ended up seeing a beautiful bridge that led us to a great little market.

That huge arch is actually the entrance to the bridge!
For a small donation, we got to take photos with the Monkey King
The market was full of Chili’s, beef jerky and some well priced souvenirs. When you’re used to East Coast prices, it’s a nice surprise when things cost less than you expect!

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!

And even in the rain… It’s a beautiful place to be!

I have 1 more post for Sichuan, and then we move onto Yunnan!!

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