The Sanyou Cave is one of the best natural sites to visit when traveling and exploring the Three Gorges area. It is known for having the best cave scenery in the said region.
The cave, also known as the Three Travelers Cave, is located at the northern edge of the Xiling Gorge. It lies around 10 kilometres away from Yichang City in the Hubei Province. It was named Sanyou after the three most famous poets of the Tang Dynasty – Baixingjian, Baijuyi, and Yuanzhen – visited the cave. According to legends, the three poets were so inspired by the unique scenery in the cave that they each wrote a poem about it on the cliff of the cave.
A Brief Description
The Sanyou Cave is perched on a sheer cliff, which shields it from the heat of the summer and also keeps it cool during the winter. On the inside, the cave is in the shape of an irregular rectangle, and is 30 meters deep, 23 meters wide, and 9 meters high. The cave was formed by centuries of erosion caused by the water hitting against the rocks. This is also the reason why the rocks in the cave come in a variety of shapes.
There are several flat rocks inside the cave, and on their faces are numerous inscriptions left by several ancient poets who have once been inspired by the cave’s natural beauty. Most of the inscriptions praise the beauty of the cave scenery. So far, more than 100 styles of inscriptions have been found both inside and outside the cave; up to 60 of them are preserved very well. Some of them are in regular script, while some feature clerical script, seal characters, cursive writing, running script, and all other forms of Chinese characters. For this reason, the cave is sometimes dubbed as the living museum of Chinese calligraphy.
Right in front of the cave is the Xialao stream, which boasts of water that is so clear and so bright it looks like gemstones on the stream bed. Near the stream and the cave entrance is a small path leading to the Zhixin Pavilion, a nice spot for enjoying the majestic view of the Yangtze River and its surrounding mountains.
Sanyou Cave in History
The Sanyou Cave has played several key roles in history. During the World War II, it was used as a revolutionary site. Premier Zhouenlai was also believed to have visited the cave when he was on his way to check the terrain where the Three Gorges Dam was to be built.
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