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This extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage site was originally constructed back in 256BC, during the Qin Dynasty. It is the oldest irrigation system in the world and is thought to be the only major system of its kind not to feature a dam.

The idea for an irrigation system was borne out of necessity in ancient times to prevent frequent flooding from the Minjiang River to the area where the Sichuan basin meets the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. An ambitious project to both protect against flooding and divert the water to surrounding farmland was designed and studied in great detail.

Subsequently enlarged during the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, the system works by first dividing the water into the inner and outer rivers, then the stones and sediment from the inner river then filtered into the outer river. A third part then acts as a bottle neck to divert the water towards the plains surrounding Chengdu and protect against flooding. Today the system irrigates nearly 700,000 hectares of agricultural land and more than 50 cities in Sichuan province.

Another major feat of engineering, this time of a more modern kind, is the magnificent Anlan Suspension Bridge which crosses the river. Originally built around 1,000 years ago, the bamboo and wooden elements were replaced by concrete and steel. Surrounding the irrigation system are a number of impressive temples, halls, towers, statues and gardens.

The Dujiangyan Irrigation System can be visited in conjunction with the Panda Research Base or as part of an overnight stay by the Qingchengshan Taoist Mountain.

Some of our favourite places to go and things to do in Chengdu
Half and full day excursions from Chengdu

5913 Panda Research Base

Panda Research Base

 
8990 Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha

 
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