According to an old Chinese saying, "There is heaven above; Suzhou and Hangzhou below." Centuries later, Marco Polo (1254-1324) called Hangzhou "the most enchanting city in the world." This is most evident in the West Lake area of Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province , where hills embrace the lake on three sides, with the city proper in the east. Ancient Chinese people have praised the West Lake area as the land of "intoxicating beauty."
The West Lake is like a shining pearl inlaid on the vast land, reputed for its beautiful scenery, multitude of historical sites, brilliant cultural relics and a profusion of native products. While legend has it that West Lake was a heavenly jewel that had fallen to earth, pragmatists insist that it is a mere lagoon on Hangzhou's western fringes. In any case, the West Lake has inspired painters for centuries.
West Lake and its immediate environs can be viewed as an enormous land-and-water park, with some 40 scenic and/or historic sites, comprising more than 30 key cultural relics distributed around the lake. It is said that West Lake is defined by one lake, two peaks, three springs, four temples, five mountains, six gardens, seven caves, eight graves, nine streams, and - not to forget - ten scenic sites.
The beauty of the West Lake lies in a lingering charm that survives the change of seasons in a year, of hours in a day, and of different weathers. The best beautiful parts include Melting Snow at Broken Bridge, Spring Dawn at Sudi Causeway, Sunset Glow over Leifeng Hill, Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard, Autumn Moon on Calm Lake, Listening to Orioles Singing in the Willows, Viewing Fish at Flowers Harbor, Evening Bell at Nanping Hill, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds. Among these sights, Spring Dawn at Sudi Causeway tops the list. Built with silt in 1089 when Su Dongpo supervised the dredging of the lake, Su Causeway extends 2.8 kilometers with grass and peach and willow trees planted along its entire length. The bell rings at dawn as the moon is sinking in the west, weeping willows along the embankment sway in the morning haze, the lake blends in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape like a roll of ink-and-water painting. Viewing Fish at Flowers Harbor is to the west of the 5th and 6th bridges on the Su Causeway. Buildings erected in Song times surround a pond in which golden carp are raised.
Beautiful scenery Originally a shallow sea inlet (due to the accumulation of silt), the six square kilometers of water came to be known as the famous West Lake. With an average depth of just five feet, the lake comprises five distinct sections. The largest part is known as the Outer Lake and it borders with the North Inner Lake, Yuehu Lake, West Inner Lake and Lesser South Lake. Among the hilly peaks on three sides, this water wonderland has been an attraction for centuries, when it also served as a favorite imperial retreat. The lake and its surrounding region all have the elements of a traditional Chinese garden on a grand scale. The natural setting of the strangely shaped peaks, serene forests and springs , dense foliage and a myriad of blossoms, especially in springtime, are enhanced by a treasury of sculptures and architectural charms. Whatever the season, the panorama is pleasing to the eye, and the changing weather paints an ever-changing picture that truly does "intoxicate."
A number of specific features are particularly notable. In the south of the Outer Lake is a manmade island known as the "Island of Little Oceans," which contains four small lakes. From here, one can see the "Three Pools Mirroring the Moon" when candles are lit at night in stone lanterns jutting out of the water to create the impression of the reflections of three moons. The scene is truly magical on the night of the Autumn Moon Festival.
Lesser Yingzhou Isle (Three Pools Mirroring the Moon): "Built" in the early 1600s, this is the largest island on the lake. When there is a full moon, candles inside the pagodas are lit, and in the candle light it appears as though you see the moonlight (if you are romantic enough to see it). Hence the name.
Mid-Lake Pavilion: From 1552, it is the oldest island. There is a Chinese inscription on the Qing Dynasty-era stone arch in which the Qing Emperor wrote "Chong Er", or "Endless Love".
Lord Ruan's Mound: This is a mound they made from piling up dirt after dredging the lake 200 years ago. However, it is not just a dirt mound. At night (summer), entertainment activities are going on in the garden on the island.
Hubin Park: Hubin Parks 1, 3, 6 and probably the numbers in between are the parks between Hubin Road and the West Lake. Relatively newly-designed as the West Lake Tunnel that goes underneath was being built in early 2004, these parks are good to sit for a bit, buy ice cream or a newspaper, and most importantly hire a boat from the cluster of boat docks at each park.
Su Causeway: Almost 3km long, this causeway dates from the year 1189 and has a bunch of willows and peach trees. It is long north-south causeway that starts by the Shangri-La on Beishan Road and goes all the way down to Nanshan Road.
Bai Causeway: Starting at the eastern end of Beishan Road, this cause way leads to Solitary Hill and cuts off the distances between, say, Hubin Road and the Shangri La.
Solidary Hill And Zhongshan Park: Where Loud Wai Lou restaurant is located, this is the only natural island on the lake. At least 3 emperor's constructed palaces here. Besides an expensive restaurant, the popular area is the home of the Xiling Seal-Engravers' Society, and the seals, calligraphy, engraving-masters, and relics that go along with it.
Yang Causeway: This one is more than 3km long and one road west of the Su Causeway. It starts at the intersection of Beishan and Shuguang Road (which becomes Yang Causeway once you are south of this intersection); the causeway runs north-south. Yang Causeway includes Quyuan Garden (aka Qu Garden aka Qu Courtyard), which is the most popular spot to see tons of lotus blossoms (late spring > summer). The water area to the west of the top of Yang Causeway is Maojiabu Scenic area, with orchids blended into the water scenery. Another tourist spot on Yang Causeway is Mr. Guo's Villa, is was built in 1907 and is considered one of the most "classical" gardens in Hangzhou. At the southern end of the causeway, just before Nanshan Road, is a fish-viewing pond.
King Qian's Memorial: 5 kings of the Wuyue Kingdom are buried here in this memorial on the south end of the lake off Nanshan Road.
Wushan Square: Wushan Square and Wushan Hill is a major town center in Hangzhou. The view from the top is excellent on a clear day, and there are also trails around the hills from behind the pagoda. The pagoda itself has been modernized with an elevator and nice open-air teahouse at the top, but the original bell is still intact and in use. This area also features easy access to Hefang Jie shopping street at the base of the hill, full of small pedestrian streets and shopping stalls. It is also extremely close to the West Lake itself.
Jade Emperor Hill: One of the least-visited sites in Hangzou despite its somewhat central location, this hill does not feature any prominent pagodas or temples, but can still provide a quiet escape and a nice walk. It is located directly south of Leifeng Pagoda. If you are playing along with the "10 Scenes of the West Lake" scavenger hunt still, the one that applies to the top of this hill is "clouds flying over Jade Emperor Hill".
"Solitary Hill Island," which lies between the Outer Lake and the north Inner Lake, is an ideal spot for admiring the vista. The "Two Peaks Embracing the Sky" nearby create another impressive view, especially when crossing the lake by boat.
Not far from the lake is Lingyin Temple, located in a woodland setting near Fei Lai Feng ("Peak Flown From Afar"). Legend has it that this limestone peak "flew" all the way from India where it had formed part of a holy mountain. These elements are of particular interest to Buddhists and art enthusiasts.
The Mausoleum of General Yue Fei is a monument to the patriot who was murdered in 1141 under his archrival Qin Hui, a Song Dynasty (960-1279) prime minister. These buildings, like others in the vicinity of the lake, such as the slender Six Harmonies Pagoda , add to the calm and beauty of their surroundings.
No visitor to West Lake and Hangzhou can avoid learning something about some of the city's most famous products, namely silk and Longjing (Dragon Well) tea. Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907) silk products from Hangzhou have found their way all over the world. The National Silk Museum was the first Chinese national museum to be dedicated to silk culture, and is the largest of its kind in the world. A similar museum is dedicated as an homage to tea. Located in the West Lake Dragon Well Tea Plantation, the National Tea Museum provides fascinating insights into the history and production of Chinese tea. Often referred to as the "wonders of West Lake," Longjing tea and Hupao (Running Tiger) Fountain are must-see spots on any visitor's itinerary.
Another natural spectacle is the tidal bore of Qiantang River, which has enthralled visitors for centuries. Overlooking the river estuary stands the 13-storey-high Six Harmonies Pagoda. Dating from 970 and built on the site of a former pagoda that served as a lighthouse, the name refers to the six codes of Buddhism , i.e. harmony of the body, speech and thought, and the renunciation of personal pleasures, opinions and wealth. From the top of the pagoda one can catch an impressive view of the river and beyond.
Su Dongpo, a celebrated poet of the Song Dynasty, likened the lake to Xizi -- the most beautiful woman in ancient China. He wrote: "Ripping water shimmering on sunny day,/Misty mountains shrouded the rain;/Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi;/The West Lake is always alluring."
These poetic sentiments leave no doubt of the glory of the scenery that inspired the poet. Therefore, the lake also became known as Xizi Lake.
Despite its beautiful name, for a long period of time, the West Lake was nothing but a natural reservoir that provided water for irrigating farmland. This fact was found in a poem written by Bai Juyi of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) for the local people upon leaving Hangzhou after his tenure as a local official had expired: "As I bid farewell to you all,/I have nothing but to leave behind a lake full of water/ In case you come across a year of crop failure."
The West Lake became a famed scenic place in China only after it was repeatedly dredged and developed by people from various dynasties, especially after it was protected, developed and eulogized by Bai Juyi and Su Dongpo.
In the last decade, quite a few new attractions have been added to West Lake, such as the Chinese Tea Museum, the China Silk Museum, the Huqing Yutang Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Museum of the Southern-Song Official Porcelain Kilns, as well as a dozen or so memorial halls, old residences and tombs of such famous people as Su Dongpo, Gong Zhizhen, Yu Qian, Zhang Taiyan, Pan Tianshou and Huang Binong. Three or five days are barely enough to cover all of the places of interest West Lake has to offer.
For those who know something about Chinese culture, the West Lake is something of a dream. Apart from its dream-like beauty, the West Lake is also associated with so many other dream-like tales, such as the well-known "the Tale of the White Snake," "the Butterfly Lovers," legends about Lord Ji, the story of Li Huiniang, as well as legends about such famous men of letters as Ge Hong, Lin Hejing, and Wu Changshuo . It is just as Yu Qiuyu, a well-known prose writer, had said: "The West Lake is a lake that belongs to culture
Must-see places around the West Lake
Gu Shan (Solitary Hill) Gu Shan lies in the northwest corner of West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. The name Gu Shan literally means the hill surrounded by water and standing alone in West Lake. Gu Shan, 125 feet tall, is low in comparison with the other hills around West Lake. It is bordered by Bai Di Causeway on the east, Xi Leng Bridge on the west, the outer lake of West lake on the south, and Bei Li Lake on the north.
In the middle of Gu Shan, Zhong Shan (Sun Yat-sen) Park was opened in 1927 to honor the great Chinese politician who established a new republic and served as the provisional president of the republic after the fall of Manchu (1911-1912) and led China into a new revolutionary era, beginning with the remarkable Xin Hai Revolution in 1911. The park was rebuilt on the site of an imperial garden of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Dotted with brooks, ponds, flowers, plants, pavilions , and bridges, this garden is so distinctive that it is regarded as a wonder of West Lake.
On the top of Gu Shan is Xi Leng Seal Society, an academic community devoted to the study of inscription and seal-cutting. Founded in 1908 under the leadership of Wu Changshuo, the society was soon popular and developed into a famous center of seal-cutting, painting, and calligraphy . At present, the society exhibits more than 250 pieces, including stone tablets, inscriptions, and statuary from past dynasties.
At the western foot of Gu Shan, Fang He Ting (Crane Pavilion) was erected to memorialize Lin Bu, a poet of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Lin Bu lived alone in Gu Shan for many years and never married. Apart from composing poems and painting in his spare time, he concentrated on raising cranes and planting plum trees to enjoy their blossoms. Thus, people said that the plum blossoms were his wives and the cranes his sons. Hence, the saying "Plum Wife and Crane Son" became his nickname and was remembered and came down from generation to generation. Today, Crane Pavilion and its surrounding areas are the best places for appreciating plum blooms in early spring. The tomb of Qiu Jin is at the west foot of Gu Shan, near the bank of Xi Leng Bridge. Qiu Jin is a well-known heroine in the period of Chinese pro-democracy revolutionary at the beginning of 20th century. She bravely fought with enemies and died at the tender age of 32.The present granite tomb in a square shape is the result of the large restoration of 1981. On the tomb is a white marble statue of Qiu Jin. Wearing a long skirt and leaning on a sword, she looks composed and resolute.
Gu Shan is a wonderful combination of nature and history. Not only does one have a chance to appreciate sites of historical and cultural interest, but also to enjoy the nature scenery from the foot of the hill to its highest peak. In addition, Gu Shan is a vantage point for viewing surrounding scenery of both of Gu Shan itself and of West lake.
Two Peaks Embracing the Sky
North Peak and South Peak are on northeast and northwest ends of Hangzhou's West Lake, in Zhejiang Province. The peaks face each other from a distance of five kilometers. North Peak at 355 meters is taller than South Peak, which is 256.9 meters.
At one time a Buddhist monastery adorned each of the peaks. They became leading tourist attractions in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). After some years the buildings fell down in ruin. The place was totally forgotten by travelers until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The emperor Kangxi saw the peaks during a tour of West Lake, and named it "Twin Peaks Embracing the Sky" for posterity and had pavilion with an inscribed stone pillar erected at Hongchun Bridge on Lingyin Road to memorialize the wonderful attraction.
You may relive the moment when the emperor Kangxi saw the twin peaks by taking a boat ride on West Lake in either spring or autumn.
One hears pine trees rustling in the wind while climbing up the winding path. One is rewarded with a commanding view of the city of Hangzhou and the West Lake when one reaches the top of either peak. No wonder that artists find it a visitor's shrine.
Lingyin Temple (Temple of the Soul's Retreat) You will find Lingyin Temple in a long, narrow valley between Fei Lai Feng (Peak flown from Afar) and North Peak to the northwest of the West Lake at Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. The temple is without doubt a premier showpiece in the West Lake environs and is notable also as one of the ten most famous Buddhist temples of China. In 1961 the temple was listed for protection as a key provincial historical and cultural site and is considered a leading center for research relative to Chinese Buddhist culture.
The presence of a temple on this site can be traced back to the Eastern Jin Dynast (317 - 420AD) when, according to local legend, Huili an Indian monk came to the area where he was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery to be found here. To his mind this had to be a dwelling of the Immortals and so he gave the temple a name "Ling Yin (Temple of the Soul's Retreat). The Chinese name is translated into English as either "Temple of the Soul's Retreat' or 'Temple of Inspired Seclusion' for the setting has a quiet and beautiful grandeur that encourages a feeling of peace and for contemplation.
The temple was to gain in importance during the Five Dynasties (907-960 AD) when the King of the Wu Yue State initiated a large-scale development of the temple as a sign of his devotion to Buddha. In its heyday, the temple comprised nine buildings, eighteen pavilions, seventy-seven palaces and halls with over thirteen hundred rooms providing accommodation for around three thousand monks. A monastery on this scale is difficult to imagine and needless to say over the centuries it has been subjected to many changes of fortune due to wars, religious repression and other calamities. The main temple that can be seen today is a result of the restoration that was carried out in 1974 following the ten-year Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Upon entering the first hall of the temple, you will see a tablet inscribed with words penned by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). He was inspired by the sight of the temple shrouded in mist amongst the trees that surround it and gave it the title 'Cloud Forest Buddhist Temple'. This first great hall, with its double eaves and some sixty feet in height, is the 'Hall of the Heavenly Kings.' Upon the door is a couplet that says 'Let us sit and wait upon the threshold, where we shall see another peak flying from afar. Let us welcome spring with a smile as the snow melts and the brook starts to flow once more.'
Upon entering the Hall your eyes will be drawn to the delicately painted ceiling decorated with phoenixes and dragons. Images of the Four Heavenly Kings stand upon either side of the Maitreya, a laughing Buddha with a huge belly who is said to be able to 'endure all intolerance and laugh at every laughable person in the world,' as he welcomes those who enter the hall. On passing through this hall and crossing the courtyard beyond, you then enter the Da Xiong Bao Dian. This is the Hall of the Great Hero. It is seven rooms wide, five rooms deep and single storey construction. The double-eaved roof soars to a pinnacle of 33.6 meters making it probably the highest single storey buildings to be found in China. The hall houses a statue of Sakyamuni carved from 24 sections of camphor wood with an overall height of 24.8 meters. This is one of the largest wooden statues in China and is covered with gold leaf. The statue is flanked on either side by twenty saints. These are said to be protectors of justice. Twelve disciples who serve as guards are seated along the rear wall. The figures are a very imposing and impressionable sight to behold.
Continuing through the temple complex, you will come in turn to the Pharmaceutical Master Hall, Great Mercy Hall and the Cool Spring Pavilion. This latter pavilion was erected a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty. It is very pleasant place to linger during the heat of summer when the softly murmuring spring has a cooling effect upon its surroundings.
West Lake Tour
The Temple contains an important collection of Buddhist literature together with many other treasures. As a consequence it is a great center of information for those who wish to study aspects of Chinese Buddhism in detail. The palaces, pavilions and halls together with their many figures of Buddhist deities represent in total a splendid and unique collection of architectural and artistic cultural relics. The various buildings and pagodas date from the Southern Song, Ming and Tang Dynasties. Among the ancient writings are scriptures written on pattra leaves, the Diamond Sutra copied by Dong Qichang in the Ming Dynasty and a wood cut edition published during the Qing Dynasty.
To add a final memorable touch to your visit, it is very pleasant to dine at the Lingyin Vegetarian Restaurant located near to the Temple. The vegetarian dishes on offer are typical of the Chinese culinary style and it is little wonder that in such a setting the excellent repast is frequently regarded as 'food for the gods'.
Fei Lai Feng (Peak Flown From Afar) Fei Lai Feng (also named Ling Jiu Feng), stands next to Lingyin Temple and is a must-see in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. There are many legends about the peak's name. A well-known legend states that an Indian monk named Huili arrived in the valley 1,600 years ago and was surprised to see a peak so dissimilar from any other one in the valley. He believed that the peak had flown over from India because the shape, although unique in China, was common in India. However, he did not know why the peak would have flown to this spot so far from his country. Hence the peak's name was created and has passed down to the present day.
Fei Lai Feng, 209 meters tall, is a pure limestone mountain that is very distinctive from the sandstone mountains around it. Large stones scattered along the peak are said to resemble animals like a flying dragon, a running elephant, a crouching tiger, and a fleeing monkey. On the other side of the peak, a pavilion named Cui Wei was erected to immortalize the national hero Yue Fei. This man contributed greatly in the war against Jin Tribe during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). The pavilion was destroyed many times before the large restoration of 1942. The current pavilion keeps its old face with fresh paint.
The caves of this mountain shelter about 330 stone statues dating from the 10th to the 14th centuries. The statues appear in a variety of poses ranging from standing, to sitting, to sleeping. A favorite may be the Laughing Buddha, sitting on the cliff along the stream with exposed breast and belly. If you wonder why he has such a big belly, the answer is that his belly is where the Buddha keeps all of the world's troubles
The question always comes out "why are there so many Buddha statues in the cave?" Local legend has it that the peak had destroyed many villages before it settled down in Hangzhou. In order to prevent the peak from causing even more damage, over 500 Buddha statues were caved out of the peak to suppress it. Consequently, the water-eroded caves in the peak are regarded as the very birthplace of many local legends.
In 1993, a new site by the name of "China Grotto Art Garden" was set up around the Fei Lai beauty spot. Thousands of professionals and aficionados in the fields of engraving and grotto research flock to this place to study the unparalleled Chinese classical rock carvings.
Among all the mountains around West Lake, Fei Lai Feng is the one most likely to simulate the imagination and make one reluctant to leave. Some even say that one experience at Fei Lai Feng will leave you with memories that will last the rest of your life.
Mausoleum of General Yue Fei The Mausoleum of General Yue Fei is located at the southern foot of Qixia hill, on West Lake bank. It was listed as one of the state-level cultural relic protection sites in 1961.
General Yue Fei is the well-known national hero in the war against Jin invaders during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). He, with his army, had won many great battles, so a minister named Qin Hui was quite jealous of him. With the authority of Emperor Gaozong, Qin Hui ordered Yue Fei back to court at once at a time that Yue Fei was fighting furiously with the northern invaders on the battlefield. In fact, the command was just an excuse to order him back. Yue Fei was wrongly accused of seriously defying military order during his mission and was subsequently put to death at the age of 39.
In 1162 Song Emperor Gaozong exonerated Yue Fei and had his corpse moved to the present site. The tomb of Yue Yun, Yue Fei's son, is on his left. In 1221, a memorial temple was built there not only to honour General Yue Fei who made such a great contribution to China defending his country against the aggression of Jin invaders, but also as an educational site for all Chinese to learn about patriotism.
Due to ongoing wars and disasters, the Mausoleum of General Yue Fei saw more than 800 years of ups and downs. But, with great support from the Hangzhou Cultural Relics Association, the present mausoleum complex is the result of the largest restoration since the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1979. The Mausoleum of General Yue Fei is now formed into a group of ancient-styled buildings. The mausoleum is 23 feet in diameter and 9 feet in height, and is situated in the southwest area of the ancestral temple. Stand in any corner of the mausoleum, and one may feel Yue Fei's total dedication to the service of the Southern Song Dynasty. Standing on both sides of his tomb are stone men, horses, tigers, and sheep that serve as guards around the mausoleum. Down the tomb steps are the cast iron kneeling statues of Qin Hui and his wife, Zhangjun and Mo Qixie. A famous Chinese poem reads: "The green hill is fortunate to be the burial ground of a loyal general; The white iron was innocent to be cast into the statues of traitors." In other words, heroes leave good names forever, but traitors go down in history as a symbol of infamy.
With a vermeil boundary wall and a double-eaved gate tower, the memorial temple clearly demonstrates its grandeur. Upon entering the main gate along the blue stone road, one can see the ancestral temple directly in front of him. The main hall is the typical two-layer-eave of Qing Dynasty architecture with a big plaque "xinzhaotianri" inscribed by the marshal Ye Jianying hung above the door. In the middle of the hall is the sitting statue of Yue Fei in full armor. He looks martial and majestic holding a sword in his left hand and making a fist with his right. Above the statue is a tablet inscribed "return my territory" which represents his outlook on life. Stone steles inscribed with poems full of his praises and eulogies from different dynasties are displayed along the corridors beside Yue Fei's tomb. Visitors can get a thorough understanding of Yue Fei from these artifacts and know why he is so popular in Chinese history.
Yue Fei's heroic deeds and patriotism add a special beauty to the charm of West Lake.
Six Harmonies Pagoda (Liuhe Pagoda) The Six Harmonies (Liuhe) Pagoda lies in Yuelun Hill on the north bank of the Qiantang River in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. The name "six harmonies" comes from the six Buddhist ordinances, meaning "harmonies of the heaven, earth, north, south, east, and west". The pagoda was first built in 970 AD by the King of Wuyue State, who intended to demonstrate his authority by conquering the evil of the river tidal bore of the Qiantang River. The pagoda fell into ruins and went through reconstruction many times before being listed as one of the key national cultural heritages in 1961.
Commanding a spectacular view of the surging Qiantang River, the pagoda presents a quiet image of age-old majesty. The original pagoda has nine stories with a light on the top, which serves as a navigation tower. In 1156, the pagoda experienced a large-scale restoration. The artisans used carved bricks when reconstructing the inside of the pagoda. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, the upturned wooden multi-eaves and wrapping structure was added to the pagoda and, in the eyes of the people, presented the soul and labor of ancient Chinese. The pagoda we see today is an octagonal structure 200 feet tall. Seen from the outside, the pagoda has the appearance of a 13-story building; in actuality, there are only seven stories.
The Six Harmonies Pagoda is definitely a masterpiece of ancient Chinese architecture that continually attracts visitors both home and abroad. Visitors here may be shocked and entertained not only by the long and splendid history of China but also the arts of Chinese calligraphy and seal-cutting. There are various sorts of stone tablets and stone statues both inside and out of the pagoda, left over from the past times. One may see relics such as a minister's tablet, a Buddhist scripture tablet, a god statue, a poem inscription, and similar artifacts from different dynasties. Moreover, the Center of Ancient Chinese Pagodas has opened near the pagoda. It features all kinds of the ancient pagodas erected in the different areas and different dynasties. One will have an appreciation of the quintessence of ancient Chinese pagodas.
China's National Silk Museum China's National Silk Museum is the first state-level museum dedicated to silk culture and the biggest silk museum in the world. Chinese former chairman Jiang Zemin made an epigraphy "Opening up a New Silk Road , Promoting Chinese Silk Culture" for celebrating the opening of the museum in spring 1992.
Located at the foot of Yuhang (Jade Emperor) Hill south of West Lake, the museum occupies a total construction area of approximately 8,000 squares meters (about two acres), which includes eight different exhibition halls: the Prelude Hall, the Relics Hall, the Folk Custom Hall, the Silkworm Hall, the Silk Manufacturing Hall, the Weaving Hall, the Dyeing Hall, and the Achievement Hall. The museum exhibits silk production artifacts from the Neolithic Age to the Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. In the Modern Achievement Hall, a series of refined silk products made in modern society are on display, demonstrating the great achievements that have been made in the silk industry with the support of Chinese government since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.China is the birthplace of the silk industry with approximately 5,000 years history of planting mulberry trees, doing sericulture and filature, and twining silk. Thus, visitors here have the opportunity to see the silk production tools and silk production lines from many eras and enjoy the rich silk culture, local customs, folk tales about silkworms, and the silkworm cocoon harvesting ceremony. In addition, visitors with enough curiosity can try to weave silk themselves, an effective way for them to know how silk is manufactured. Each year, countless silk professionals and aficionados from all over the world meet here to appreciate those masterpieces made by ancient laboring Chinese and celebrate the silk festival at the same time.
China's National Silk Museum all the while pays much attention to friendly cultural exchanges about silk with any other countries. With past years' efforts, the museum has been gradually developing to a high-standard research, collection, and authentication of the ancient Chinese silk cloth. The museum is a hot tourist destination, which attracts those who are really interested in the Chinese silk.
National Tea Museum National Tea Museum is situated in the Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea plantation near West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. The building complex in "Jiang Nan water-town" is a perfect example of ancient Chinese civilian architecture. The museum was first built in 1987 and opened to public in April 1991, occupying a total construction area of 3500 square meters (less than one acre).
National Tea Museum is the only state-level museum specialized in the theme of tea culture. It is also the largest tea museum in China with the most comprehensive collection of tea utensils and other relative exhibits on view. The museum is made up of five themed buildings: exhibition, tea drinking, tea performance, multiple functions, and international exchanges. The exhibition hall is the main body of the museum. Branching off it are areas dedicated to the history of Chinese tea, tea drinking customs, tea utensils used in past dynasties, and the knowledge surrounding tea culture, and even the complicated process of picking and roasting tea leaf.
The two locations dedicated to tea drinking and tea performance are designed to introduce the ways of drinking tea and show the diverse tea-related performances in different regions of the world. The two are also considered the denotation and supplement for tea culture.
Visitors here not only appreciate but also take part in the tea-drinking ceremony. Guests can choose their own particular tea, for example the Chinese Longjing tea named as the imperial tea by the Emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The multiple function rooms generally hold international seminars and exchanges on any sort of tea culture. That is to say, National Tea Museum would rather be an international-level research center on tea and tea-related culture than just a museum showing the history of tea. Each year, tea professionals and aficionados come to Hangzhou city from all over the world for the "West Lake International Tea Festival". Tea, as the symbol of world peace and friendship, connects people from all over the world.
National Tea Museum plays an important role on the tea stage and offers the chance and space for international research and exchange about tea and tea culture. So far, the museum has been a hot tourist spot and an educational base that attracts millions of people from both home and abroad. Undoubtedly, National Tea Museum will help begin a new era in tea development.
Whether cruising during the daytime or in the evening, the scenery of the West Lake is of great charm. Cruise boats are to be found in many wharfs along the lake. There are also boats of unusual characteristics along the wharfs, such as rowing boats in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) style, painted boats full of Southern Song (1127 - 1279) and Qing Dynasties flavors and dragon boats designed according to the folktale of the West Lake. No matter the appearance or the inner decoration of the boats, they are of classic elegance.