The Lingqu (pronounced “leen’-choo”) is far west of China’s famous Grand Canal, which connects the eastern cities of Beijing and Hangzhou through the lovely city of Suzhou. The Lingqu was built in southern China where tributaries of the Yangtze and the Pearl come close together, at the city of Xing’an, 50 kilometers north of what is today the city of Guilin in Guanxi Province.
On the left (in blue-grey) is the Li River, flowing south into the Pearl River system; on the right (in blue) is the Xiang River, flowing north into the Yangtze River. The Língqú 灵渠 Magic Transport Canal (in purple) connects the two rivers along a contour between the two drainages.
This is the main entrance to the Língqú Canal 灵渠 Scenic Spot on Shuangling Rd, Xing’an County, Guilin , 541300 桂林市兴安县双灵路
This birds-eye drawing shows the most important parts of the Lingqu at its beginnings on the east. Waters of the Xiang River, flowing to the right, are separated by the "Ploughshare" (sometimes called the "spade-snout"), with most of the flow directed into the canal.
The low dams to the right of the ploughshare ("Small Size Scale" and "Large Size Scale") are weirs or dykes that allow excess water to continue flowing on down into the Xiang River. The Lingqu Canal flows to the upper right, with the Xiang River center-right, and the Bei qu Canal (the canalized segment of the Xiang River) flowing to the bottom right. The view is looking west.
This is the upriver point of the Ploughshare ("Spade-Snout"), the spade-shaped masonry island separating the Xiang River, taking part of the flow to the left and on into the Lingqu Canal.
To the right and on into the distance, river water flows into the Bei qu Canal, a canalized segment of the Xiang River. The view is looking north in the direction of the Yangtze River. The Ploughshare (Spade Snout) and Low Dykes appear on stamp number 1 on the main page of this website.
Another view, this one looking north from up at the Loongwang Temple, shows the long Ploughshare leading from the right, ending at the two weirs (low dykes).
Water is flowing from right to left into the Lingqu Canal, which is out of the picture to the left. Water flowing toward the top of the photo goes on down the Xiang River in the direction of the Yangtze River.
Working in combination, the ploughshare and the weirs (low dykes) keep just the right amount of water flowing into the canal, even if the river is flooding.
Showing the shorter low dyke and the "ploughshare" or "spade snout" middle-distance right with a low hill in the distance beyond the Xiang River. During floods or high water, excess river water, moving from right to left, flows over the low dyke, back into the riverbed, and on north. The pattern of rocks on the dam's surface is known as "fishscale". The view is to the east.
Same location, but this time excess water from the Xiang River is flowing over the low dyke and continuing on down the river.
Waters directed westward by the low dyke (right) enter the Lingqu Canal under a pedestrian bridge and through a narrow opening just a few meters wide (little wider than a canal boat). Note the stone monument near the center of this picture, also in the next picture. This view is to the west.
Noting the stone monument in the distance of the previous photo, this is the view beyond the monument along the canal, just after it begins at the pedestrian bridge. Tourists ride the poled-paddled boats. This view, again, looking west.
Farther west along the Lingqu Canal within the Lingqu Scenic Spot. On the left (south-side), the former towpath is now a sidewalk for tourists to stroll into Xing'an. On the right (north) bank, a strong dyke along its north bank keeps the canal separated from the Xiang River flowing below (not visible).
Continuing west along the canal toward the town of Xing'an, an encounter with an arced pedestrian bridge, an iconic scene along China's rural waterways.
The Lingqu Canal carries only enough water to float a barge, shallow enough that poling works well. The tourist boats are propelled by pushing the pole end under water against the lined-with-stone bottom of the canal. Along the Canal's route, Xiang River water flows unusually clear flowing into and through the Water Street market area of Xing-an. It is not unusual to see café vegetables being rinsed in the slow, transparent current.
Beyond the pedestrian bridge, the First Balancing Weir protects the Lingqu Canal by diverting excess water, during flood times, back into the Xiang River below the canal. In historic accounts, passengers on canal boats recorded the frightening scene of moving along the narrow canal, closely passing the top of the waterfall cascading down to the Xiang River. This weir, and a second one in Xing'an, two of the original ingenious parts of the Lingqu, have kept the right amount of water flowing along the canal for over 2,200 years.
Another view of the First Balancing Weir. The weir, designed to "balance" the flow, protecting the downstream, is one of several "firsts" for the Lingqu Canal. (These photographs were taken during low flow, so no water is going through the weir.) [ The weir is depicted in Stamp #2, shown on the Home page. ] Shortly after flowing west past the First Balancing Weir, the Lingqu Canal leaves the Scenic Spot and enters Xing'an's busy Water Street market area, a popular tourist attraction.
This website created and maintained by Jim Stembridge of Salem, Oregon, USA and Peiru Xu of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. Website established in 2014; revised 2022. Photographs and descriptions are free to use for any purpose with credit to "LINGQU 灵渠 MAGIC TRANSPORT CANAL.com". We welcome comments and questions. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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