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Dujiangyan Irrigation System

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Despite being constructed in 256 BC, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System continues to serve residents of the fertile Chengdu Plain. A marvel of ancient engineering, the irrigation system was built in response to destructive springtime flood waters. It was commissioned by Governor Li Bing who began work on the project to divide the river into more manageable streams so as to not breach the riverbanks. Once separated, the diverted water was to be funneled through the nearby Mt. Yulei en route to irrigating the surrounding fields and plains. Needing to blast through the mountainside in an age before gunpowder, Li Bing and his son employed a system where the heating and cooling of stones would crack an eventual path through the mountain. After four years of heavy construction the miraculous project was completed, and in doing so, created the world’s oldest no-dam irrigation system. In 2000 the Dujiangyan Irrigation System was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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