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Few People Know: Profound Experience in Maojiabu, West Lake
About the middle section of Yanggong Causeway on western West Lake, Maojiabu can be found. Beishan Road is no match for it since its wild countryside feel is no ordinary. Folk cottages are amidst the scene of swinging willows and verdant trees in the breeze. Walk down on wild reed paths and cobbled ground, a plank road of wooden support takes you to reed forest. You'll only see ducks swimming, birds flying low and listen to their singing.
History and Facts
According to the narration by local residents that "Mao" means thatches in Chinese and at the time of the Ming and Qing dynasties thatches were many in the village. Here is also the starting point of Shangxiang Ancient Way. Maojiabu is one of the ten new West Lake attractions. You may find the feeling that you want for Chinese countryside and this maybe the West Lake scenery you have imagined before coming here. The air is moisture and balmy that makes grasses grow so fast. Objects reflect themselves on the water and wooden paths constructed along the lake that you may don't feel tired after long walk. A small pier of wooden and bamboo structure which it is similar to what you may have seen in some movies is reached after going through a floating bridge grown with grasses under Yujian Bridge.
Few People Know: Petite Bourgeoisies Taste in the Four-eye Well
You can feel the entirety of Hangzhou's petite bourgeoisies and artistic atmosphere in the Four-eye Well, where it is local youth's favorite. Youth hostels, themed restaurants, characteristic teahouses, etc., are quite modern yet different from what the traditional sides we've seen in China. It gives your boundless imagination not only through the local environment but even the names of everything, like Shambhala, Hidden Garden and Chaxiang Lishe.
Few People Know: Panorama of Hangzhou and the West Lake on Gem Hill
Gem Hill is at north of the West Lake and it got this name that the hill rocks are gem red with sparkling spots on them. They'll reflect brightly and vividly just like countless pieces of gem when the sun is rising or setting. The legendary scene of “Gem Bathed in Flowing Rosy Clouds” can be seen here. More essentially you can command a great view of the West Lake if air and sky are clean and clear respectively.
The World Cultural Heritage in Hangzhou
Classic beyond Time: Rent a Bike to Ride Round the West Lake
Have a bike tour round the West Lake can be said the most authentic way of a Hangzhou tour. Just rent a bike, go round the lake and cross the picturesque Su Causeway, the Broken Bridge, Nanshan Road and Lakeside Park. You'll feel so good when passing the Yanggong Causeway and Longjing (Dragon Well) Road where tourists are not many.
History and Facts
There are not many lakes in the world have been enlisted in UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage, and the West Lake in Hangzhou is just one of them. It is located southwest of downtown Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and renowned for its beautiful scenery and a lot of historical relics left by ancient celebrities and artists. Hangzhou, alongside with Suzhou, have always been praised as paradises on our planet.
Su Dongpo, cadre and poet in the Song dynasty, once said that there were 36 West Lakes in China but only the one in Hangzhou was the best. It is surrounded by hills at three sides and that one sees the urban zone. Hangzhou's West Lake is always beautiful regardless it is with light or heavy “makeup”.
In old times the West Lake was called Wulin Water, Qiantang Lake or Xizi Lake and since the Song dynasty it was finally called the West Lake, the name now we call it.
The old ten scenes (listed since the Southern Song dynasty): Spring Dawn on Su Causeway, Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden, Autumn Moon over the Peaceful Lake, Melting Snow at Broken Bridge, Viewing Fish at Flower Pond, Orioles Singing in the Willows, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds Sunset Glow at Leifeng Pagoda and Evening Bell at Nanping Hill.
The new ten scenes: Bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi, Osmanthus Rain in Manjuelong Village, Dream of Tiger-running Spring, Enjoying Tea at Dragon Well, Nine Creeks in Misty Forest, Heavenly Wind at Wushan Hill, Ruan Gong Mound Surrounded by Greenery, Yellow Dragon Dressed in Green, Flying Clouds over Jade Emperor (Yuhuang) Hill and Gem Bathed in Flowing Rosy Clouds.
Three lake Islets: Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Mid-lake Pavilion and Ruan Gong Mound.
The fundamental backgrounds of West Lake are cloudy hills and pretty water with humanistic relics as its decorations. The lake can aptly be a splendid scene in every kind of weather or season. The best parts here maybe the Su Causeway and White Causeway. They are trans-lake causeways which pretty divided the lake into five parts. Cherish the scene when sun rises and shines through misty air that veils the six bridges on Su Causeway, astonishingly beautiful indeed.
Few People Know: Master Architect's Vision of China Academy of Art
Wang Shu's other worldly garden shows somewhat a dreamy xanadu of some watery villages near Hangzhou area. Architectural details of traditional China are artistically reproduced here. Chinese concepts in space, poetry and aesthetics are successfully brought along with contemporary architecture by Wang.
History and Facts
First and second phases of construction of Xiangshan Campus of China Academy of Art were presided over by Wang Shu, director of architecture department and famous architect, who thinks that “in a drifting space with context of Chinese architecture”. The campus is located in Zhuantang Town, southwestern Hangzhou, near the hilly and watery countryside where egrets flying over frequently. Although it is Chinese architecture it is so different from what we have seen before. Over 3 million pieces of bricks and tiles from different places in southeastern China of various ages to be abandoned were fetched and gathered here to complete the new campus project. These things were recycled and used here at their best to save construction costs. Chinese courtyards are made between campus buildings that give an illusion of all houses are grown up from the ground. The spacious corridors with hillside kiosks and huts by waterside are for leisure walk, art exhibition and of course offering a brand new urban scenic attraction. Yet they don't lose anything that is simple and humble which are usual for Chinese architecture can offer utmost harmony with the natural environment. The fundamental wisdom of facing the Mother Nature is properly incarnated here with mixing wooden and steel structures alongside concrete ones as Chinese people have long been coexisting with local land, hills and water.
Qiantang River Bridge
The first bridge on Qiantang River
Classic Beyond Time: Enjoying Tea and its Profound Culture in Dragon Well Village
Dragon Well Tea of the West Lake is mostly produced at and around Dragon Well Village. It is characterized with its brilliant color, rich fragrance, refreshing taste and nice shape associating with its long history, beautiful mountain and lake scenery, Buddhism and good spring water. Chinese "Long Jing Wen Cha" means literally "Asking Tea in Dragon Well Village", which may imply that knowing the profound meanings in tea through tasting the tea, experiencing the environment and understanding culture.
History and Facts
The village is located at southwest of the West Lake. About 1,100 years before present there was the Dragon Well Monastery. A legend goes that the Dragon Well was connected to the sea because the grand dragon lived in the sea. The water in Dragon Well was not of common nature that when stirred there would be a dividing line in the middle and it would move a little bit and then disappear slowly. Dragon Well water with Dragon Well Tea is a perfect match.
Tasting Dragon Well Tea in the village had already been a trend in the Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127 AD). In the Yuan and Ming dynasties this activity was for leisure during off times. Dragon Well Tea became a product of royal contribution to the Imperial Palace in Beijing and to be more famous in China. Once Emperor Qianlong came to Dragon Well Village to pick tea leaves on his own so 18 imperial tea trees are still in the tea plantation as relics from that time.
One of the Ten Great Buddhist Monasteries in China's Zen Sect
Few People Know: Real Buddhist Retreat in Three Tianzhu Monasteries
The Three Tianzhu Monasteries, namely, Dharma Joy, Dharma Mirror and Dharma Cleanliness are located not far from the Lingyin Monastery. They're surrounded by hilly terrains of soul refreshing scenery where it is true venue for Buddhist retreat. Hangzhou's local old ladies and gentlemen like to come here offering burning incenses to the Buddha.
History and Facts
The three monasteries are also known as Upper, Middle and Lower Tianzhus and all of these are Hangzhou's famous Buddhist premises. The Lower Tianzhu has the oldest history with over 1,600 years of age, even the Upper Tianzhu, which is the youngest, still has about a thousand of history. Qing dynasty's Qianlong Emperor named them to be Monasteries of Dharma Joy, Dharma Mirror and Dharma Cleanliness and give these inscriptions on large plaques in his own writings.
The Dharma Joy Monastery (Upper Tianzhu) was built in 939 AD by Dao Yu, a master monk, at White Cloud Peak. And Qing dynasty's Qianlong Emperor (1711 - 1799) conferred the name Dharma Joy. It was repaired and renovated in 1898, 1985 and 1991 in massive scales. It is now the largest premises among the three Tianzhus. Again renovation work was done in 2006.
The Dharma Cleanliness Monastery, originally called the Middle Tianzhu, was established in 597 by a Zen master and become Dharma Cleanliness in the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644). The written inscription of Dharma Cleanliness was made by Qing dynasty's Emperor Qianlong in 1762. After a massive renovation in 1892, a great loss to the monastery was due to a huge fire in 1947 and later its original architecture was restored. In 2006, it was gone through a massive repair and renovation.
The Dharma Mirror Monastery (Lower Tianzhu) is by side of Lingyin area, Peak Flying from Afar to the west and Sweet Osmanthus Peak to the east. Again Qianlong Emperor renamed it to be Dharma Mirror during his reign. Later in 1861 there was a devastating fire during a battle destroyed it to ashes. The monastery was fully rebuilt in 1882 and repair and renovation were done in 2006. It is the only monastery in Hangzhou for religious cultivation of Buddhist nuns.
Hangzhou's Vibrant Nightlife Area
Classic Beyond Time: Serenity and Blessing in the Lingyin Monastery
The monastery enjoys a booming pilgrimage of Buddhist believers especially the incense offering to be burnt right after midnight of first day of the Chinese New Year. Although it is not quite crowded in morning on working days there are still many locals giving their offerings to the Buddha praying for blessing and fortune. Therefore, to experience Hangzhou's Buddhist culture, this is the place you'd like to be.
History and Facts
Originally called the Cloudy Forest, the monastery is situated at the northwest of Hangzhou's West Lake, the part where people know as should still be in the West Lake Scenic Area. Lingyin, literally in Chinese as “soul's retreat”, was initially built in 326 AD that made it be the oldest Buddhist monastery in Hangzhou and one of the ten most famous Zen sect's monasteries in China. Soul's retreat implies that it is hidden in a hilly forest that pilgrims and believers love the serenity of their souls. However, it will make you a bit disappointed when you see many worshippers offering incenses here. Nevertheless, your prayer is usually to be fulfilled according local legends just like the magic that Peak Flying from Afar is here to stay.
A screen wall facing the gate of the monastery called Close to Heaven, from which we come to Lingyin and stop for a while by side of Ligong Pagoda. The ashes of master Monk Huili (from India, the founder of the monastery) buried here. The pagoda is height 8 meters as octagonal shape with 7 levels of stone structure. A tall, red wall blocks the view of the Lingyin Monastery and left hand side the Peak Flying from Afar and Cold Spring are seen. Walk along the Cold Spring where the scenery is far reaching and enchanting. After this the monastery is here in front of us. Qing dynasty's Kangxi Emperor gave the imperial inscription "Cloudy Forest Zen Monastery" is on a large plaque at the door of the Heavenly King Temple. It is said that when Kangxi came to Hangzhou in 1689 and one day visited Lingyin. At the time when a master monk presiding Lingyin accompanied Emperor Kangxi to hike up the Beigao Peak in the morning, the emperor found that the monastery was veiled a little bit behind a cloud and mist forest. After going back downhill, the master requested the emperor to give his royal inscription to Lingyin, Kangxi then wrote down "Cloudy Forest Zen Monastery". Because local folks have got used to call it Lingyin, today Chinese people still call it the Lingyin Monastery.
Many travelers at home and aboard visit Lingyin for a hiking up tour only. Route recommended: Lingyin - Upper Tianzhu - Nine Dragons and Eight Towers - Heavenly Gate (Tianmen) Hill - Ten-mile Langdang - Five-cloud Hill - Linhai Kiosk - Nine Creeks.
The Best View for the West Lake
Classic Beyond Time: Delights in the Wild Xixi Wetland
If You Are the One, a movie about dating and love in China several years ago, has made Xixi famous in China with the dialog “stay at Xixi because of you”. A vast place of wildlife that is hard to find another in Hangzhou. You can take a boat ride to the center of Xixi Wetland enjoying serene scenes of swing willows, crimson persimmons and green reeds in fall, plum blossoms or even snow in winter, leisure walk in early spring, or water chestnut picking and watching lotus flowers in summer. You'll really indulge in such wonderful scenes.
History and Facts
The Xixi is the only one in China that has combined urban, agricultural and cultural wetland scenes as a whole. This rare secondary eco wetland is about 5 km away from northwest of the West Lake and can be easily be reached through Tianmushan Road. It is one of three “Xi's” (West in Chinese language) alongside with West Lake and Xiling (Society of Seal Cutting), the essential beauty is its water which is the soul of this wetland, taking up about 70% of the area. Rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes are dotted around, of which the six rivers are juxtaposed like a net to which they intersected with one another with several pretty islets.
Xixi, known as Hezhu in the past, historically it was locally understood as long and winding streams and rivers, surrounding hilly terrains, majestic temples and pretty gardens and vast zone of wildlife. It has about 10 sq. km. that is divided to be areas such as Eastern Wetland Ecological Protection and Breeding Zone, Central Wetland Ecological Tourism and Leisure Zone and Western Wetland Ecological Scenic and Closed Zone. The wetland is the most characteristic in China that makes it to be most attractive of its kinds.