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DONGTING LAKE

  The beautiful Dongting Lake is rich in fairy tales and legends. On its eastern shore stands the Yangtze Rivergraceful three-storey Yueyang Tower of Yueyang City, one of the Three great Towels south of the Yangtze (the other two being Yellow Crane Tower in Wuchang, and Prince Teng Pavilion in Nanchang). From its terraces and from pleasure boats on the lake, many famous Chinese poets have been moved to verse.
    The lake embraces distant hills and devours the Yangtze, its mighty waves rolling endlessly.
    From morning glow to evening light, the views change a thousand, ten thousand times.
    On top of the tower the mind relaxes, the heart de]ights.
    All honours and disgrace are forgotten.
    What pleasure, What Joy to sit here and drink in the breeze.
             Fan Zhongyan (989--1052)
  Said to have been constructed on the site of a reviewing platform for Yangtze Rivernavy maneuvers on the lake darting the third century, the fist tower was erected in 716.The present golden-tiled, square tower dates from 1985, but it has been rebuilt in the Song-dynasty style at great expense.
  Legend has it that the tower was saved from collapse by the supernatural powers of Lu Dongbin a Daoist (Taoist) lmmortal, who also got drunk here three times. These occasions are remembered in the form of the Thrice,, Drunken Pavilion, which flanks the tower.
  An excursion on to the lake can be made to Junshan Island, 15 kilometres (ninemiles) away. Some 4,000 years ago, Emperor Shun, on an inspection tour, died at Mount Jiuyi on the south bank of the Iake. Two of his devoted concubines, hurrying to his side, became stranded on Junshan Yangtze RiverIsIand. The story goes that in their distress, their copious tears blotted the Iocal bamboo, henceforth known as the Spotted Bamboo of Junshan. They drowned themselves in the lake, and their graves remain. In 219 BC, Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, also on a tour of Dongting Lake, was delayed at Junshan island by a sudden storm. When he consulted his geomancer as to whether spirits were impeding his progress, he was told of the concubines' graves. In a fury he ordered the burning of the island and had five stone seals placed there, forbidding its name to he used or anyone to visit it.
  On the 100-heclare (250-acre) isIand, Junshan Silver Needle Tea is grown, so highly prized that it was once presented as a tribute to the imperial court.
  Once China's largest freshwater lake, the Dongting now ranks second, due to sandbars and silt accumelation from the four rivers which feed it. As a result of flood prevention schemes--6,l00 irrigation and drainage channels and l5,000 sluices-the surrounding land has become productive al1 year round and the lake acts as a reservoir for summer flood waters. The 3,000- squarc-kilomctre (1, l60-square--mile)lake abounds in fish.
  Luxury goods from Canton from pearls to kingfisher feathers Me ached the ancient capitals by way of the Xiang River, through Dongting Lake, down the Yangtze to Yangzhou and then on up the Grand Canal.

Shashi

• DongTing Lake

Three Kingdom's Red Cliff

Han River