china edition


Chengdu - Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Sichuan - Chengdu - Jiuzhaigou - Leshan

The Dujiangyan Irrigation System is a pearl in the water works construction of ancient China. Built over 2,200 years ago, it still provides benefits for the people. The irrigation system was erected on the Minjiang River at the foot of Yulei Mountain, northwest of Dujiangyan City in Sichuan Province.

Dujiangyan Irrigation SystemHere the Minjiang River, after being joined by many tributaries in its upper reaches, runs toward the Chengdu Plain. As the Yulei Mountain originally blocked the river so that water could not flow eastward, the plain had no access to river irrigation and agricultural development in the region was therefore seriously affected.

Li Bing, governor of Shu Prefecture during the Warring States period (475-221 BC), made a careful survey of the region and then had a channel cut through Yulei Mountain. He put a dyke in the middle of the Minjiang River to divide it into 2 parts. This all happened around 250 BC. He also ordered the local people to open channels and canals on the plain so as to divert the river for irrigation purposes. This finally turned the agricultural potential of the plain into a land of abundance.

The ancient Dujiangyan Irrigation System is unique and a scientific marvel. It provides the vital passage that joins mountain and plain. The main system consists of 3 parts: a fish-mouth-like water-dividing dyke, 2 spillways for discharging flood waters and silt, and a channel cut through Yulei Mountain as a water inlet. These 3 parts interact and depend on one another, constituting a carefully designed and reasonably arranged water diversion hub that contributes to irrigation, flood control, and shipping.

The Dujiangyan Region has a beautiful landscape and many cultural relics and historical sites, including the Fulong Temple, Erwang Temple, and the trail bridge. All of these, plus moving legends have exerted a great attraction for both domestic and overseas tourists.

The Fulong Temple was erected in 168 to commemorate the taming of the river. Fulong Temple sits in Lidui Park overlooking the split between the inner and outer flows of the Min River. Also, Li Bing's genius is again celebrated at the Two Kings Temple (Erwang Miao) near the dyke. The "two kings", of course, are Li Bing and his son, Er Lang. Two Kings Temple can be found in the western section of Yulei Park overlooking the dyke. There are cable cars that run between Lidui Park and Two Kings Temple in Yulei Park.

The Erwang Temple was built to commemorate Libing and his son, who together made great contributions to the project. Being an outstanding hydraulics engineer, Libin invented the fish-mouth style dyke. He also erected a stone man in the middle of river to act as water gauge for long-time observation of water in different seasons. He buried a stone rhino on bottom of the inner river as gage for measuring the concentration of silt and sand when dredging for annual maintenance. An 8 words inscription on a wall inside the temple sums up his experience of water-control: "Dredging the sand deeper, building the dam lower".

The tourist site of Dujiangyan Irrigation System was listed by UNESCO as one of the World's Cultural Heritage on November 29, 2000.