Shibaozai, literally Stone Treasure Fortress, is a tower built at the end of the Ming Dynasty on a large rock that stands in the middle of the Yangtze River. Legend has it that this rock was one of the treasure stones which the Chinese Goddess Nuwa used to repair the sky when it was broken that was accidentally left on earth.
It was built by Tan Hong, who claimed the rock as his base for an uprising against the Ming government. The building was then extended during the Qing Dynasty into a massive pagoda with nine levels, with a shrine at the top of the pagoda The whole tower was built with wood (except for the tile roofs), and was built in a way which hugs the side of the cliff. The engineering feat going into building this pagoda is spectacular.
After the Three Gorge Dam was built, most of the Yangtze river above the dam was flooded, causing the water level to rise significantly. This greatly threatened Shibaozai and the rising water could easily erode away to base rock of the pagoda thereby destroying it. In order to save the pagoda, a massive stone barrier is built around the rock to keep the water out as well as provide support for the base rock of the pagoda. Now it is surrounded, from afar it looked like a Bonsai, with rocks, trees and a shiny red pagoda all fitted within a “pot”. It has therefore been nicknamed the largest Bonsai in the world. The easiest way to Shibaozai is via one of the many Yangtze River Cruises, where Shibaozai would be one of the many excursions that is available for the cruise passengers.