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Grand Canal – The Man Made Canal

 2014-09-30    Meixuan    Sights    Hangzhou    869  

Grand Canal, also called as Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is starting from Beijing and passing through Tianjin and also the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang through the city of Hangzhou. The canal connects the Yangtze River and Yellow River. Being one of the largest men made canal, this canal attracts lots of domestic and international tourists. Presently, the canal is declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The canal has a long history dated back to 5th century BC and the various sections of the canal were merged together during Sui Dynasty in 581-618 AD.

Pound Lock System

The combined length of the Grand Canal is 1,776 kilometers. The ancient Chinese engineering skills have successfully taken the vessels to the top of the mountains of Shandong, which has a height of 42 meters from the ground level by implementing the Pound Lock System. The highest canal level is at the summit of Shandong hill. The Pound Lock technology was invented during Song Dynasty in 960-1279 by engineer Qiao Weiyo who was a government official too. There are references about the Grand Canal and the wonderful Pound Lock system by many historians including the eminent Japanese monk Ennin, Persian historian Rashid Al Din, Italian missionary Matteo Ricci and Korean official Choe Bu. The pound technology is a step by step uplifting of water level by blocking one end of the canal and releasing water from the other end and increase the water level to move the vessel to next stage. There could be various stages to complete the process till the vessel reaches to the final destination.

Significant economical contributions

Grand Canal had contributed significantly towards the growth of China by connecting different part of the provinces and having an easy and economical transport/ferry system. Large volume of goods and merchandise were able to move from one location to other location of the provinces. The approximate age of the Grand Canal is calculated as 2,000 years and some portions of the canals are still in use. The canal is mainly used as water diversion conduit now a day.

Tragic suffering of labors

As many of the history stained with the blood of innocent human life, the Grand Canal too had some horrible human life loss story. The construction of the canal was believed to be started by Emperor Yangdi of Sui Dynasty. He moved the capital city to Luoyang and undertook large scale expansion of the canal. The orthodox construction techniques hit about 3 Million labors life, due to hard labor and hunger. This could be one of the reasons why Sui Dynasty collapsed, due to poor planning and lack of finance to complete the project. The project was considered in resulting draining of exchequer and wastage of human power.

It helped the economy

However over a period of time, when the canals were interlinked it was easy to move goods from one end of China to the southern end of Zhejiang province-the city Hangzhou. The canal connected Yangtze, Yellow Huaihe, Haihe and Qiantang Rivers and connected provinces Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shadong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The easy transportation of men and material helped to prosper the regions like never before. The contribution to strengthen the economy was beyond the imagination of any rulers.

Travel tips

Today this is one of the most attractive tourist destination and canal boating is one of the highlight of the tourism activities. Tourists can reach here easily by taking the Shanghai-Hangzhou high speed railway and from the city it easy to catch the canal area by regular bus services.


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