Dongting Lake — Dream of Cloud and Lake of History

Jiukong Bridge on Qianmuhu of Dongting Lake

Jiukong Bridge on Qianmuhu of Dongting Lake

What is Dongting Lake?


Dongting Lake used to be named the Dream of Cloud, is a cultural landscape that was eulogized by famous scholars, and an important military site where many important historic 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.


  • Dongting Lake is 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 Yangtze River (or Changjiang River);


  • Dongting Lake 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 was originated from this area, which was to memorize 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), they arrived at Dongting Lake after hearing that the king passed away during a patrol.

They were extremely upset, and their tears sprinkled onto bamboos, which later became mottled. They were trapped and passed away there soon, 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, there was a powerful Dragon Jiaolong who caused huge floods and brought disasters to people living near Dongting Lake. 

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

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

Beautiful View of Dongting Lake

Beautiful View of Dongting Lake, 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 was crying sadly. She told him that she was the daughter of the Dragon King of Dongting Lake, but was married to a cruel husband who kept abusing her. 

Liu Yi agreed to help her.

After long travel and having conquered lots of 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 then beat his daughter's cruel husband and take her back. Later, Liu Yi and the girl fell in love with each other, got married, and lived happily near the Dongting Lake 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 of Dongting Lake, Constructed in about Song Dynasty (960 — 1279) based on the Liu Yi's story, Photo by Gong Jianbo.

What are the important cultural sites and natural scenic views of Dongting Lake?


Junshan Island

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

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

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

Junshan Island of Dongting Lake

Junshan Island of Dongting Lake, Photo by Wang Ping.

Yueyang Tower


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


Afterward, the Yueyang Tower had been rebuilt and renovated several times, but its importance in Chinese culture has never changed.

Yueyang Tower of Dongting Lake

Yueyang Tower of Dongting Lake

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 Lake National Nature Reserve, Photo by Li Ga.