Shibaozhai, which literally means "Precious Stone Fortress", is a hill located on the north bank of Yangtze River, Chongqing, China, in the center of the Three Gorges Reservoir. It’s a 220-meter-tall rocky hill with craggy sides. According to the legend, this huge rock was a colorful stone left by Goddess Nvwa when she repaired the sky after a battle between two warring gods.
Because of the build of Three Gorges Project, the original Shibaozhai town had been flooded for the rising water level of Yangtze River. The pagoda was surrounded by the old Shibaozhai town, but the old town has been flooded and water has already covered the foot of the pagoda, the highest watermark is 175 meter. In order to protect the pagoda, the government had made a protecting project, which includes 5 parts and has a total investment of 20,000,000 dollars. Thanks to the plan of building a dam around the base, today the water level won’t keep rising and the pagoda has been well preserved.
The wooden pagoda is miraculous because its timber framework was built without any iron nail. With 56 meters in height, 12 floors and 99 steps inside, it’s the highest wooden pagoda existing today as well as one of the eight most wonderful constructions in the world. The architecture of its timber framework must owe to two special parts, one is the wooden tenon, and the other is wooden mortise. The end of a wooden tenon is perfectly shaped to fit into a corresponding wooden mortise. This great craftsmanship was invented about 7,000 years ago and that’s why the bright pearl on Yangtze River can stand for hundreds of years without an even single iron nail.
Emperor Qianlong erected a red pavilion leans against the side of the hill to provide a walkway to the pagoda at the top of the hill. The pavilion was on a large rock which overtops the river almost 30 meters, it had nine floors and was one of the largest wooden pagodas. In 1956, when Emperor Xianfeng was on the throne, a three-storied hall was added at the top of the structure, which is called the Purple Rain Pavilion. The three stories were dedicated to Manjusri, the representation of wisdom in Chinese Buddhist culture.
Many cruise ships on Yangtze River would stopover at Shibaozhai, providing visitors a chance to climb to the top of the Pagoda. The only way to climb the peak is by stairs, but it’s not an easy thing to do since each floor is reached via an unstable ladder. However, it’s still worthy, because it is said that the higher one climbs in the temple, the more likely your wish or dreams will come true. What’s more, local people believe that you will reach the heaven after finishing the climbing.
After tough climbing, you’ll find many historical and cultural relics to discover on the top of Shibaozhai Pagoda. Therefore, never miss any highlights.
The walls of Main Hall is constructed of ancient bricks of Han Dynasty. The hall behind is dedicated to General Zhangfei and Yan Yan of the Three Kingdoms, and the hall on the left to General Qin Liangyu who fought against the Manchu army. In addition to a mural shows Nuwa repairing the sky, you can also see many different statues of historical figures in various costumes and vivid facial expressions. On the walls and cliffs, you will encounter with illustrious calligraphies, outstanding carvings and many enlightening stories about the Buddhism, Taoism, and other schools in ancient China.
The Duck Cave
The Duck Cave has an interesting legend. It is said that when spring turns into summer if you drop a live duck into the hole, it will swim into the river at the bottom of the hill and reappear in the Yangtze River after about 15 seconds. In the old days, monks get their drinking water from this hole by pipes made of bamboo.
The Rice Flowing Cave
The Rice Flowing Cave is another feature. The cave is in the rare hall of Shibaozhai Pagoda with a statue of a digging monk. As the legend goes, enough rice would flow out from the stone cave every day to feed the monks lived in the temple. However, one day a greedy monk dug the cave in order to get more rice. Of course, the rice never flows again. As the Buddhist culture recommended, a contented mind is a perpetual feast.
Recommended Tour Itineraries Including Shibaozhai Pagoda
This 15-day tour will take you to visit the six famous cities in China from east to west. You will have an opportunity to visit the capital city Beijing. Then take a short tour to Xi’an. After that, you are going to visit Lhasa, the roof of the world then fly to Chongqing to enjoy the breathtaking view of Yangtze River as well.