Yellow Ox Gorge

The Yangtze zigzags its way through the Xiling Gorge, in a series of S-bends. With the rapid current rushing between rocky outcrops, navigating this section is extremely difficult, even though the scenic spots here are among the best in the area.

Yellow Ox Gorge, in the middle section of the Xiling Gorge, is named after Yellow Ox Mountain on the south bank of the river. With a height of 1,000 meters (3281 feet), the mountain takes on a reddish brown color in the semblance of a man leading an ox. People passing by are bound to marvel at this masterpiece of nature. This natural image of a dark strong man and a yellow ox on the cliff hangs in high view. The Chinese Classic in the 6th century, Commentary on the Waterways, had the spectacle described in detail.

There is a legend that the Ox was in fact the one that helped Yu the Great (a tribal leader in ancient times) in dredging the Yangtze River. In honor of its great contribution, a Yellow Ox Temple was constructed at the foot of the mountain. Since it was originally built during the Han Dynasty, the temple has undergone reconstruction several times, and the name was changed to Huangling Temple, as it is known nowadays. It is recognized as the oldest architectural feature in the Three Gorges region.

Huangling Temple

Huangling Temple, originally called Yellow Ox Temple (Huangniu Temple), boasted the biggest and the oldest ancient architecture in the Three Gorges Region. The temple, it is said, first built in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC) in the commemoration of the Holy Yellow Ox who helped Yu the Great in dredging through the gorges along Yangtze River. As to the period of Three Kingdoms, Zhuge Liang (a famous strategist in the Three Kingdom period) ordered it reconstructed and wrote 'Notes of Yellow Ox Temple,' later engraved on a stele outside the Hall. However, Ouyang Xiu (a famous litterateur in the Song Dynasty) changed the name to Huangling Temple because he did not believe the artifact – the Holy Ox.

The temple is located at the base of the Yellow Ox Mountain with the Yangtze River on its south bank. The stark red walls and bright yellow roofs made the temple stunning and magnificent. Visible upon entering the Front Gate via the stone stairway, the Hall of King Yu the Great faces a prominent theater stage. The main hall is supported by thirty-six wooden pillars, among which a Hydrographic Post recorded valuable hydrologic data.

Traditional art of Chinese architectures such as upturned eaves, corbel arches and terracotta are on display in the temple. Two steles hang up on the lintel on which the inscriptions on one of the two were said grant by Cixi (the Empress Dowager of China during 1835 and 1908). To the right of the Hall of King Yu the Great stands a Wuhou Temple (it is not the one in the Chengdu City). It is said a tree with an age of 1,700 years in the backyard of the temple was planted by Zhuge Liang.

More Xiling Gorge Attractions:

Nanjin Pass, Shadow Play Gorge & Kongling Gorge
Sanyou Cave & Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge 

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