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Located about four kilometers away from the city of Xuchang in Henan Province, Baling Bridge Scenic Spot includes two main attractions, the actual Baling Bridge and Guan Temple, and a fascinating natural environment with lush greenery on both sides of the river, old cypresses and ancient paths. Also known as Eight Li Bridge, it is believed to have initially been erected in Yuan Dynasty.
There is solid evidence that improvements have been made on the bridge during Ming and Qing Dynasties. Unfortunately most of the ancient bridge was damaged during a flood in 1953 and the current structure was built 40 years later, in 1993, following a design which was discovered in a Han stone tomb.
Things to do
All attractions in Baling Bridge Scenic Spot are strongly attached to an ancient legend. The story goes like this: In 200, during Han Dynasty, Cao Cao defeated Liu Bei in Xuzhu and abducted his two wives and his brother, Guan Yu. Although Guan Yu fought on the side of his brother, he was disappointed once he found out that Liu Bei had betrayed him and wanted to congratulate Cao Cao for his victory by giving him gold, silver and a seal.
However, Cao Cao refused to see him, claiming he was busy, and Guan Yu started a long journey in search for his brother along with his sisters in law. When on their way, and on the side of Baling Bridge, Cao Cao and a few of his soldiers caught up with them and Cao Cao offered Guan Yu a warrior’s robe as a sign of making amends. While Guan Yu wanted to carry on his jurney in order to help his sisters in law find their husband, he did accept the robe by picking it with the tip of his swore while still being on his horse. This way Guan Yu bid farewell to Cao Cao and continued his journey towards the West.
The original Baling Bridge, which is now destroyed, was made out of blue and grey stone and was 17 meters long and three meters high. It was in the shape of crescent and had three arches, two small and a bigger one in the middle. The new bridge, made in 1993, is also a crescent shaped bridge with the same length, but it now has one arch and two steady bases, one on each side.
Two 11 meter sidewalks are placed on its both sides. An inscribed stone tablet referring to the legend of Guan Yu was placed on the foot of the bridge during Ming Dynasty by General Zuo Liangun. The tablet, still standing there today, writes: “The place where Guan Yu took the robe with his sword”. Another tablet, bearing the inscription “Farewell to Cao Cao” was also added to the place during the same time. Four more Tablets were erected in Qing Dynasty and more specifically during the reign of Emperor Kang Yi, Emperor Yong Zheng and Emperor Qiang Long.
Guan Temple, the other key attraction of Baling Bridge Scenic Spot, is divided into three main courtyards, one of them known as Taoist yard. Entering the main gate, the visitor will see the main hall, a bell tower and a drum tower. Statues of Guan Yu, Cao Cao and Liu Bei’s two wives are placed into the temple as well.