Shaibaozhai, literally means Stone Treasure Fortress, locates in Zhong County, at the south bank of the Yangtze River, 278 kilometers away from Chongqing. It was built in Qing Dynasty in 1750.It's one historic site that will look much different in 2009.When the lake formed by the Three Gorges Dam is completed, most of the stuff will be under water and the temple will sit close to the lake's edge on a newly formed island. The wooden structure stands on the riverside. It's built by catch upon a rectangular rock with sheer cliff with a height of 56 meters and 12 stories. And every floor of the wooden structure contains interesting artifacts. Each of the 12 stories of Shibaozhai is dedicated to famous general of the Three Kingdoms period (220-265AD), a local scholar or a renowned Chinese poet. Climbing the 12 stories is not as different as it may sound, because you will need time to look at the paintings and sculptures on each level. Nowadays, it takes about 1.5 hours to climb from the pier to the top of Shibaizhai and round back from a back footpath.
In addition to the murals, sculptures in the wooden architecture, the view of the river and the farmland, village below is terrific. And there were two unusual interesting features of Shaibaozhai fortress. The first is the duck well at the top of the hill. Supposedly you can take a duck and drop it down the well, and it would reappear to swimming in the Yangtze River far at the bottom of the hill. The rice flowing well is the second feature. Legend has it that enough rice would flow out of the small well hole each day to feed the monks that lived in the temple and their guests. The “Stone Treasure” meme is linked to this legend. However, one day a greedy monk chiseled a bigger hole in the rock, thinking he would get more rice. Of course, the rice flow ceased forever. It's use to remind people not to be too greedy.
There contains three groups of sculptures, respectively: story of the local General Bamanzi suicide for protecting the town, General Zhangfei of Three kingdom period moved General Yanyan with seniority; Story of the heroine Qingliangyu. The top of the pagoda lies a temple, in which the Goddess of Heaven, a legendary figure in Chinese fairy tale, is shined in the middle and flanked by her seven daughters on both sides.
It might be enjoyable to have a bird's eye view of the surrounding from top of the pagoda, and one might be amazed at its role playing in the Yangtze River tourism.
Tips of Visiting Shaibaozhai:
In between every two stories, there're dozens of wood steps to do. They're narrow and sheer, thus sometimes one has to use all fours to climb, which is tiring. But as there's always a flat platform to stand on and something interesting to see, so it would not be too exhausting. The breaks in between are really helpful to make the whole journey up.
As the passages are small and narrow, so never run or push in case of any dangers probably happen.
It's allowed to take photos in the pagoda, even in the temple on the top.
Wheelchairs and handicapped people are not suggested to go. Usually from the pier to the foot of the pagoda, it takes 15-20 minutes to do dozens of steps. While on both sides, hello market with flexible, even poor qualities sold by local people is always busy, as some visitors enjoy bargaining and getting souvenir for friend and family.
The way down from the back side of the pagoda is paved with fine flat and wide steps. It's much easier to make the way down with the new facilities.
Bringing some water with you is highly suggested.