Jianmen Shu Road: a walk through history

By Chris Parker
Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 1, 2014

Jianmen Tower, one of the representative sites along the Jianmen Shu Road, is an important strategic pass in northern Sichuan Province and was the site of countless battles during the Three Kingdoms period (around 200 AD). [Photo provided to China.org.cn]

Jianmen Shu Road is an important strategic pass in northern Sichuan Province, bordering Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It was the site of countless battles during the Three Kingdoms period (around 200 AD). Inspired by stories from history, I visited the ancient road during the Sichuan International Culture and Tourism Festival in late June, 2014 to experience what it would have been like back then.

Jianmen Shu Road is known as one of the Four Spectacles of Sichuan Province. A popular saying goes: "If one man guards the pass, ten thousand will be unable to get through." The struggles between the armies of Wei, Shu and Wu are the stuff of legend in China and even inspired the popular historical novel, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms."

The path runs from the city of Chengdu right through Sichuan Province and into Xi'an of Shaanxi Province. However, the section I visited is one of the most famous and highly developed. These days, the path is an easily accessible tourist destination with wooden planks throughout, to make it easy to get around.

Jianmen Shu Road is surrounded on all sides by rich and thick vegetation, and is framed by sword-like peaks; thus, it is easy to imagine how imposing a barrier it must have been in ancient times. Along the way, there are many cliffs, caves and waterfalls, each with its own story. Some of the points have to be crossed via rope bridges with steep ravines below. Swaying backwards and forwards can be an unnerving experience! Carvings and statues along the road depict the stories of the Three Kingdoms period, and also provide attractive photo opportunities for visitors.

The path is winding and steep at times. The section I chose was the shortest and took about two hours to complete. For braver visitors, there is a longer four-hour trail, and even cliff-side paths and ropeways for those who want an extra challenge.

The grandest and most representative site on the path is the Jianmen Tower, which has been carefully restored and stands as a landmark along the road.

After you complete the trail, you are greeted with the Jianmen Ancient Town, where you can enjoy ancient Chinese crafts and a large variety of delicious tofu dishes – the local speciality. As you walk through the town, there is also a plaque from Guinness World Records for the largest piece of tofu in the world, which was produced in the town and weighed 3,120 kg!

The site is a short bus ride from Guangyuan and is easily accessible from Chengdu. The trail is a refreshing walk through nature and history – great for those who love to be outdoors!

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