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The Underwater Museum of White Crane Ridge

Updated: Aug 11, 2021 govt.chinadaily.com.cn Print
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The Underwater Museum of White Crane Ridge
重庆白鹤梁水下博物馆

Address: 185, Section two of Binjiang Boulevard, Fuling district, Chongqing
Opening hours: 9 am -5 pm Closed Mondays
General Admission: 50 yuan ($7.72)
Email: bhlsxbwg@163.com

The White Crane Ridge is a long rock outcrop stretching 1,600 meters in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in Fuling, Chongqing. With an average width of 15 meters, it bears 165 surviving carved inscriptions, 108 of which are associated with hydrological information.

With more than 10,000 characters dating from the latter half of the 8th century, the rock was only exposed in the dry season of the river from December to March; for the rest of every year, it was submerged in water.

A photo of the historical inscription of the White Crane Ridge washed by river water in the 1990s. The inscriptions on the rock were exposed during the dry season of the Yangtze River before the Three Gorges Dam impounded water. [Photo/cqbhl.com.cn]

But once the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River impounded water, the nearby White Crane Ridge lying on the upper reaches became permanently submerged on the river bottom, 40 meters deep.

To protect the inscriptions that record historical hydrologic data throughout some 1,200 years, the Chinese government began construction of the Underwater Museum of White Crane Ridge on the site of the Historical Inscription of the White Crane Ridge in 2003. Opened to the public in 2009, it is the world’s first underwater museum and is reputed as “the world's first museum of an underwater site that can be accessed without diving” by UNESCO.

The White Crane Ridge is the only ancient hydrology station in the world to observe and record hydrology by carving fish as “water marks”. The carved fish on the rock are now the precious cultural relics of the Underwater Museum of White Crane Ridge.

Divers operate in the protected space of the White Crane Ridge 38 meters below the Yangtze River surface. [Photo/cqbhl.com.cn]

Covering 11,300 square meters, the museum is comprised of a shore gallery and an underwater space. The site of the Historical Inscription of the White Crane Ridge is sheltered in a cement-structured cover filling with filtered river water to counter the water pressure from the Yangtze River outside the cover. The White Crane Ridge, with 165 inscriptions totaling more than 10,000 characters and 18 carved fish (as marks of the water level), as well as other precious stone relics, have been well preserved with scientific methods.

The image shows the underwater corridor of the museum. Through the round windows visitors can observe the water-burial White Crane Ridge inscriptions. [Photo/cqbhl.com.cn]

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