The First Bend of the Yangtze River lies in Shigu (Stone Drum) Town, which is 45 kilometers northwest to Lijiang Ancient Town. Running from the north of China to the south, the Jinsha River turns to the northeast here in Shigu, giving birth to the famous "first bend of the Yangtze River". A white marble tablet in the form of a drum was erected there by the county magistrate of Lijiang in the 27th year of the Jiajing Period of Ming Dynasty (1548), hence its name.
The First Bend of the Yangtze River is surrounded by hills and water with picturesque landscape. The river is wide and flowing smoothly. With the willow belt along the river, the mountains around, the terraced fields along the slopes and the villages, it honors the reputation of "The Second Jiangnan" (the south of the Yangtze River in the lower reach).
Features of The First Bend of the Yangtze River
Yangtze River, considerd the mother river of China, flows majestically through the center of China and is the third longest river in the world. Starting from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Yangtze River surges southeastward until it meets the Hengduan Mountain Range. About 44 miles outside of Lijiang, unusual geological phenomenons force the Yangtze to make a sudden V-shaped bend and flow to the northeast. This extraordinary turn, nearly180-degrees, creates beautiful and marvelous views that startle the imagination. Here, the river is wide and the water flows in a gentle, slow pace. Large willow trees grow luxuriously alongside the river that is banked on both sides with lush, fertile deep green vegetation and immense, steep mountains that rise up from the river to touch the clouds in the blue sky above. The whole sight is like a wonderful landscape painting that never ends. This is the First Bend of the Yangtze River - a world-famous geological phenomenon and an extraordinary panoramic scene whose vistas you will long remember with great pleasure.
On the mountain at the river's bend stands Stone Drum (Shigu) Town, named after a drum-shaped marble plaque. Built during the Jiaqing era (1548-1561) of the Ming Dynasty, the stone drum is a monument commemorating the victory of Lijiang's Naxi ruler over an invading Tibetan army. It is one point five meters (five feet) in diameter and zero point five meters (two feet) in thickness. The stone drum has an obvious vestige of what appears to be a "rip" in it. It is said that the stone drum would rupture prior to any war and then fold when peace returned.
Throughout time, Stone Drum Town was always a significant and vitally strategic military area where many famous historical events have been taken place. It was here that Zhuge Liang, the famous and highly acclaimed military strategist of the Three Kingdoms Period, chose to cross the Yangtze River and gain "battle advantage" over his opponents. The first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan, used this place for his expeditionary forces to ferry across the river. In April 1936, the Second Route of the Red Army, led by General He Long and Ren bishi, crossed the river here and continued to march north. There are memorials here honoring the people whose histories are entwined with the Stone Drum Town.
This whole area abounds with attractive stories and dazzling visions. Stone Drum Town, together with the First Bend of the Yangtze River, and so many other spots nearby such as the Tiehong Bridge and Rock Gate ensure that a trip here will be an exciting one that you will greatly enjoy.
How to get The First Bend of the Yangtze River
Location: In the west of the urban area of Lijiang, 51 km.
Transport: Regular buses directly to Shigu Town are available at the Lijiang Passenger central Station; the drive takes about 2 hours.