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Ling Canal

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Located in Xing'an County 57 kilometers (35.4 miles) north of Guilin, Ling Canal is the most complete hydraulic engineering in existence made in ancient times. Equaling to Dujiangyan and Zhengguoqu in importance, it is one of the oldest canals in the world. 

The construction of the canal started from 219 BC to 214 BC during the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang, more than 2,200 years till now. It was in 221 BC that Qin Shihuang achieved the unification by annexing the other six countries like Qi States, Chu States, Yan States, Han States, Zhao States, Wei States. To consolidate his imperial power, he dispatched the troop of 500,000 soldiers with the intention of attacking Lingnan. However, the ruggedness of the mountain road made the transportation of food and money inconvenient; as a result, it became quite difficult for the attack. Thus, Emperor Qin Shihuang issued the order to have Ling Canal built to facilitate the provision of food and money. After the completion of the project, not only was the problem of transporting of food solved, but also it provided irrigation to that region. Thanks to Ling Canal, the basic necessities of the army were guaranteed, so they plumped up their courage and fought hard so that Emperor Qin Shihuang managed to unify Lingnan. 

The influence of the canal was evident in several aspects, for instance, the fact that great amounts of people moved and settled down from Central Plains to Lingnan in Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC) accelerated the integration of different nationalities; the construction of Ling Canal connected Xiangjiang River, Yangtze Waterway with Li River, Zhujiang Waterway, which played an important role in developing the economy of Lingnan, as well the cultural exchange between Lingnan and Central Plains were enhanced a great deal. 

It is made up of ploughshare, water diversion dam, south canal, north canal, spillway as well as boatlocks. Scientific design and elaborate architecture were taken advantage of when constructing Ling Canal. The plough shares out Xiang River into 30 and 70 percent, as a result, 30 percent of the water flows south into Li River, the rest flows north into Xiangjiang River. Connecting Yangtze River and the Pearl River, the completion of Ling Canal helped pave the way for the unity of China by Qin Shihuang.

With regard to the architectural splendor, Ling Canal has achieved the highest level. Having the similar function with the lock in the modern ships, Doumen was the navigation facilities that were applied in the construction of Ling Canal. In spite of simplicity in structure, it was easy to operate. It was indeed the earliest in the world. The contemporary scholar Guo Moruo described it in this way: Rivals the Great Wall, Ling Canal is another man-made miracle.

Ling Canal is encompassed with beautiful scenery. Cultural relics are easily found there, especially the pavilions, bridge, river and the folk custom, all vividly reappear the ancient civilization and demonstrate the intelligence of Chinese ancestors. Ling Canal has become a bright pearl in Guilin, which attracts more and more people for sightseeing. 

 Entrance Fee: 
CNY 60 (kids under 1.0 m are free of charge)
CNY 30 (kids between 1.0 - 1.4 m)

 Recommended Visiting Time: 2 hours

Take the long-distance buses from Guilin Long-distanve Bus Station to Xing'an County, and take a tricycle to the Ling Canal.

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Questions & Answers on Ling Canal
  • What is the symbolism of the very modernistic gate at the entrance?

    Asked By Al Riley (United States) | Sep. 14, 2011 15:39
    3 AnswersAnswer Question
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