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Dongting Lake — Dream of Cloud and Lake of History

Jiukong Bridge on Qianmuhu of Dongting Lake

Jiukong Bridge on Qianmuhu of Dongting

What Is Dongting Lake?


Dongting Lake used to be named the Dream of Cloud, is a cultural landscape that famous scholars eulogized and an important military site where many important historical events took place. 


Meanwhile, it is a picturesque lake that serves significant ecological and agricultural functions. 

Tributary of Dongting Lake

Tributary of Dongting Lake, Photo by Luo Ming.

Important Data of Dongting Lake.


  • It is located in Hunan Province, the south of China;


  • It is about 2740 square kilometers, now the second-largest freshwater lake in China;


  • Dongting is an important adjusting and storing lake of the Yangtze River (or Changjiang River);


  • Dongting area has been a significant agricultural supplier in China;


  • It is the origin place of Chu Culture, where kings of Chu State trained their armies;


  • The Dragon Boat Festival originated in this area to memorize the great poet, politician, and patriot Qu Yuan, a noble of Chu State that sacrificed for his country.

Gold Currency (Ying Yuan) of the State Chu

Gold Currency (Ying Yuan) of the State Chu — Nanjing Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

What Are the Most Famous Folklores of Dongting Lake?


Ehuang and Nvying

Ehuang and Nvying were two wives of King Shun (about 2294 BC — 2184 BC), and they arrived at the lake after hearing that the king had passed away during a patrol.

They were extremely upset, and their tears sprinkled onto bamboo, which later became mottled.


They were trapped and soon passed away and became Deities of the Dongting Lake.

Picture of Ehuang and Nvying, By Artist Han Dezhu.

The Shooting of Dragon Jiaolong

A long time ago, a powerful Dragon Jiaolong caused massive floods and disasters for people living near Dongting. 

When Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC — 87 BC) was visiting this area, he encountered this monster and shot it down. 

In another version, Hou Yi, a hero from ancient folklore, conquered and shot down the Dragon Jiaolong and brought people peaceful lives. 

Beautiful View of Dongting Lake

Beautiful View of Dongting, Photo by Lankongkonglan.

A Magic Well to the Dragon Palace

In Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), a brave young man named Liu Yi saw a girl crying sadly. She told him that she was the daughter of the Dragon King of Dongting but was married to a cruel husband who kept abusing her. 

Liu Yi agreed to help her.

After long travel and having conquered many difficulties, he finally found a well next to a big tree, which was the entrance to the Dragon Palace under Dongting Lake. 

The Dragon King beat his daughter's cruel husband and took her back. Later, Liu Yi and the girl fell in love with each other, got married, and lived happily near the Dongting area. 

Liu Yi Well on Junshan Island of Dongting Lake, Constructed in about Song Dynasty (960 — 1279) based on the Liu Yi's story.

Liu Yi Well on Junshan Island, Constructed in about Song Dynasty (960 — 1279) based on the Liu Yi's story, Photo by Gong Jianbo.

Important Cultural Sites and Natural Scenic Views


Junshan Island

Junshan, also named Dongting Mountain or Xiang Mountain, is the most famous island of Dongting Lake and an auspicious holy land of the Taoism Religion

The 960,000 square meters large Junshan Island consists of 72 peaks, which are believed to be the incarnations of 72 fairies of the conch, who sacrificed themselves to protect people. 

Many cultural sites, including the Well of Liu Yi, the temple and tomb of Ehuang and Nvying, the stage where Emperor Wu of Han shot down Dragon Jiaolong, inscriptions of famous poets, and so on.

Junshan Island of Dongting Lake

Junshan Island of Dongting, Photo by Wang Ping.

Yueyang Pagoda


Yueyang Pagoda was first constructed during the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907). It became famous after Fan Zhongyan, a great reformer, politician, militarist, and scholar, wrote an article in 1046 eulogizing exceptional views of the tower and lake. 


Afterward, the Yueyang Pagoda was rebuilt and renovated several times, but its importance in Chinese culture has never changed.

Yueyang Tower of Dongting Lake

Yueyang Tower

East Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve

Established in 1994, it is a wetland nature reserve with thousands of types of plants, about 338 birds, and 117 fish species.

Swans in East Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve

Swans in East Dongting National Nature Reserve, Photo by Li Ga.

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