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Little Know Grand Canal in China
With nearly 5,000 years of recorded history, China is the cradle of one of the world’s oldest civilizations and is a fascinating land full of rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. The Chinese have many years of experience in managing their water system and like to name their canal after the other name of the person who was in charge of the construction of the canal at the time.
There are three known water saving projects in China, the oldest of which dates back to 486 BC. n. no. Although established many years ago, these water saving projects still play an important role in the lives of local residents. Let’s take a look at them:
The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is a magnificent irrigation project of ancient China and the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world. The canal runs from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south and stretches for 1,794 kilometers and crosses the Suez and Panama Canals. When the canal was built, it forms 6 provinces connected together and flows into the Haihe, Yellow, Huaihe, Qiantang and Yangtze rivers.
Already in 486 BC n. no. were the first to cut a canal near the city of Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province to connect the waters of the Yangtze and Huaihe Rivers. And from the 7th century in the Yuan Dynasty to the 13th century in the Sui Dynasty, it finally became the Grand Canal, which was the main traffic artery between northern and southern China during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
The Grand Canal, like the Great Wall, is a wonderful project in the history of Chinese civilization. Not only did it facilitate water transport and irrigation, but it also helped promote economic and cultural exchange between the north and the south. Currently, the northern part of the canal is little used as a means of communication between the north and the south. It is poorly built, neglected and filled with the muddy waters of the Yellow River. The central and southern sections of the canal are very frequently used, while the 800 kilometers stretching from Jiangsu to Zhejiang are subject to year-round shipping. A canal boat trip offers tourists a panoramic view of the landscape of typical river towns, including arched stone bridges, ancient riverside buildings and breathtaking scenery.
Dujiangyan Dam, 56 kilometers away from Chengdu, is located along the Mingjiang River in the west of the Chengdu Plain. In 250 BC n. no. Li Bing, the garrison commander of Shujun Prefecture, and his son organized the construction of the famous Dujiangyan. It is the largest irrigation system, one of the oldest in the world and still in use today. The Dujiangyan irrigation system brings great benefits to agricultural production.
The system consists of three main parts: the Fish Mouth Barrier Dam, the Flysand Barrier, and the Narrow Throat Channel.
The barrier dam is also called the Fish’s Mouth because it looks like the thing it is named after. The whole dam looks like a fish, and the front dam has a round cone shaped like a fish’s mouth. The fish mouth divides the water into two parts, 40 percent flows into the inner river for irrigation in Chengdu areas and 60 percent flows into the outer river as the main stream.
The Flying Sand Fence connects the inner and outer channel. The fence helps to adjust the water lever and keeps the channel flow within safe limits. During high water, when the flood reaches the fence along the outer channel, the river begins to turn rapidly and many eddies soon form. Volatile eddies sweep up sand and pebbles and throw them into the outer channel. Currently, a reinforced concrete dam has replaced the ancient fence made of a huge bamboo basket with stones and pebbles.
The canal of the narrow throat acts as a throat of liquid water into the inner canal. It was so named because a thick channel was cut through the mountain in two parts, connecting an internal irrigation channel. The smaller part is later called Li Dui, which means lonely hill. Chengdu looks like a big bottle and the main channel between the mountain and the hill has the shape of a bottleneck.
Due to the success of the project, the dam automatically diverts the Mingjiang River and directs it into irrigation canals. For many years, the dam has made the most of water protection works. Two thousand years later, the Dujiangyan still plays a role in irrigating the western Sichuan plain and avoiding floods.
Ling Canal is located in Xingan County, 66 kilometers north of Guilin City. A Chinese proverb said, “To the north was the Great Wall, to the south was the Ling Canal”. It enjoys the same reputation as the Great Wall.
The canal was scientifically designed by Chinese ancestors more than 2,000 years ago. In 221 BC n. no. Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty) wanted to launch an expedition to the south to unify China. In 219 BC n. no. the emperor ordered Shi Lu to have a canal built to facilitate the transportation of grain.
The canal consists of two sections, the northern and the southern, which together measure 34 kilometers. A system of canals connects the Xiang Jiang, a tributary of the Yangtze, with the Li River, a branch of the Pearl River, which becomes the center of communications between central and southern China. Not only did it facilitate water transport and irrigation, but it also helped promote economic and cultural exchange between different nationalities and promote their unity.
The project consists of plow head, bifurcation dams, south section, north section, Qin embankment and spillway dam and lock. Each part of the channel has a specific function. The complexity of the project is easier to understand when you observe it from the top of the mountain.
The Hai Yang He in the upper reaches of the Xiang Jiang flows downstream from the Hai Yang Shan for 43 kilometers and reaches Mei Tan (now called the Bifurcation Basin), where there is a 500-meter bifurcation dam consisting of two sections measuring 380 and 120 meters. or The dam is slightly lower than the banks of the Xiang Jiang River, so during the high water season, the flood may flow over the top of the dam and flow into the old Xiang Jiang Stream.
The highlight of the channel is its elegantly designed coulter, also called Hua Zui, in the shape of a coulter. The plow divides the water of the Hai Yang River into two parts, 30 percent flows into the Li River through the South Channel and 70 percent into the Xiang Jiang through the North Channel. The starting point of the South Channel is 215 meters above sea level. This means a drop of 32 meters on a 30-kilometer course.
The Ling Canal was a major water conservation project in China in ancient times and is also one of the oldest canals in the world. Everyone will be fascinated to see such a scientifically designed canal in such a complex terrain more than 2000 years ago.
While visiting the Grand Canal, Dujiangyan Dam and Ling Canal, no visitor can fail to marvel at these magnificent ancient water conservancy projects, which show that the Chinese nation is a great nation and that the Chinese are industrious, talented and courageous people.
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