Known to most Chinese as Ghost City, Fengdu is an ancient necropolis perched on the banks of the Yangze River. For centuries the city's ghostly reputation drew the pious and curious to its hillside shrines and temples. More recently, Fengdu was a common stop for Yangze River cruise boats on their way downstream from Chongqing.
Fengdu became known as Ghost City during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD - 220 AD) when two Han bureaucrats decided they wanted to do something more interesting and left court life to begin building Taoist temples in the mountains. Named Yin and Wang, put together their names sound like "King of Hell" in Chinese and legends of immortality began. In the meantime Yin and Wang went on building temples and carving sculptures. Among the most impressive sculptures left by the Taoist monks is the Ghost King sculpture a 138 meter high and 217 meter wide, (for comparison Mt. Rushmore heads are 18 meters high) relief carving in the side of a rock face and is listed by the Guinness World Records as the biggest sculpture carved on a rock.
In 2008 completion of the Three Gorges Dam in 2008 raised water levels more than 300 feet, submerging most of the city. In anticipation of the flooding, the Chinese government began moving residents to higher ground in the early 2000s. Relocation left most of the city -- once with a population of over 700,000 - abandoned, including an unfinished hotel in the shape of a face and a fun house of horrors meant to simulate the Taoist notion of hell.