Dujiangyan Irrigation System: the Oldest and Most Famous Water Conservancy Project in China

The Dujiangyan Irrigation System is located on the middle reaches of Minjiang River in the western part of Chengdu Plain and to the west of Dujiangyan City. It is the oldest and most famous water conservancy project in China, and the only oldest extant grand water conservancy project featuring the method of drawing water without a dam in the world. Over the past 2,200 years, it has been continuously used and exerted tremendous economic benefits, turning the West Sichuan Plain into the “Land of Abundance” free from floods and droughts.

Dujiangyan Irrigation System

The origin of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System dates back to 256 B.C. during the Warring States period, when the local governor Li Bing set up an irrigation scheme to harness the devastating floods caused by the Minjiang River. Making subtle use of the local topography, the main project of the irrigation system is to split the Minjiang River into an inner flow for irrigation and an outer channel for flood control. The principal part of the irrigation system lies in its head, mainly consisting of three main parts: Fish Mouth Levee (Yuzui), Flying Sand Weir (Feishayan), and Bottle-Neck Channel (Baopingkou). As a whole the irrigated system scientifically solved the issue of automatic flow division, sand discharge, and inlet flow regulation.

Dujiangyan Irrigation System-2

The main attractions of Dujiangyan Scenic Area include the Dragon-Taming Temple (Fulong Guan), the Temple of Two Kings (Erwang Temple) and Anlan Suspension Bridge.

Dujiangyan Scenic Area

Dragon-Taming Temple is located in the Detached Mound Park, accessible only on one side where 42 stone steps lead to the wide dyke, which takes on the grandeur and majesty. The main buildings are arranged on its axis. From Surge View Pavilion in the temple, the scenes of ancient Dujiangyan Irrigation System, the Snow-capped West Hill, and the beauty of Mount Qingcheng are brought in one view, while the river rolls at the foot and rushes through the Bottle-Neck Channel, which is quite spectacular.

Dujiangyan Scenic Area--Dragon-Taming Temple (Fulong Guan)

The Temple of Two Kings was built to commemorate Li Bing and his son, who were conferred with the title of King in the Song and Yuan dynasties respectively, hence the name of the temple. In the temple are various pavilions and halls, with flying eaves and overlapping towers which make the complex magnificent and majestic. On the walls inside the hall are inscribed the valuable rules for water control, such as “dredge deep but dam low”.

Dujiangyan Scenic Area--the Temple of Two Kings

One of the highlights of the Dujiangyan Scenic Area is the stomach-churning Anlan Suspension Bridge, spanning over both the Inner and Outer Rivers for about 500 metes and swaying dramatically with each footstep. As one of the five key bridges of ancient China, the Anlan Suspension Bridge now overlooks the Fish Mouth Levee, which is the most typical scene of Dujiangyan Scenic Area.

Dujiangyan Scenic Area-Anlan Suspension Bridge

Dujiangyan Irrigation System, known as a “monument in Chinese history and culture”, is the most glorious example for scientific flood fighting in the history of world irrigation works. For anyone with an interest in engineering and water conservation it is a unique and eye-opening experience. In 2000, both Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System were inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List as cultural heritages of the human world.

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