Suzhou, Wuxi - The East
Hangzhou, Suzhous and Wuxi were famous towns during the Southern Song period (1127- 1279) which lie along the Emperor Canal. The origins of this famous Emperor Canal go back to the period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC). Since the end of the 13th century, this waterway has stretched over a distance of more than 1,800 km where it crosses the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiansu towards Beijing and connects the rivers Qiantangjiang, Yangzijiang, Huaihe and Huanghe. The king of the state of Wu has a canal built from Suzhou to the Yangzi river when preparing for war. It was completed in 495 BC and was 85 km long.
Hangzhou, the capital for Zhejinang Province was the subject of many poems in the Tang period from 618 - 907. It became world famous during the Southern Song period and was one of the largest cities in the world. However, it was almost completely destroyed in the second half of the 19th century during the Taiping Revolution.
Today, it is one of the most prosperous regions in China. Its products such as silk and Dragon Well tea are famous, and its pharmaceutical industry and academy of arts are well known. A total of 1.2 million people live in the town, which covers an area of 429 sq. km. The town and particularly West Lake, the main tourist attraction is a popular excursion spot for Shanghai residents. Legend has it that West Lake was created from a pearl dropped by phoenix and a dragon, Originally it was only a bay on Qiantang river, but since the Tang period has been extended into a lake that now covers 5.6 sq. km. Its eastern shore is close to the town, while the other shores are surrounded by usually mist-covered mountains and forests.
The largest island in the West Lake is Solitary Hill (Gushan) Island. On its southern side is Sun Yatsen Park, which was originally part of the palace garden of emperor Qianlong. The palace from the Song period was destroyed during the Taiping Revolution. To the west of the park is the Zhejiang Museum, founded in 1929 which exhibits the oldest rice finds in China, over 7,000 years old. To the north-west is the Pavilion of Literary Waves. Adjacent to the east are pavilions and a small pagoda of the Xiling-Die Culting Company, founded in 1903. The Xiling Bridge at the end of Gushan Street connect the island to the mainland.
In the southern part of West Lake, is the Island of Small Seas (Xiaoyingzhou, which was created in 1607 as an artificial coral reef. It was constructed as a generously arranged garden with pavilions and bridges in such a way that it encloses four lakes, which contain lotus flowers and goldfish.
On the north-western shore of the lake is Mausoleum and Ancestors Temple of General Yue Fei. This symbolic figure of Chinese patriotism, who is still mentioned in modern Chinese literature was executed in 1142 as a result of intrigues, rehabilitated shortly afterwards and is now honored at this burial site. The temple site was built in the 13th century where the hall of honor are painting that depicts the life and fate of the general.
interesting and attractive tourist places in Hangzhou and
the lake includes Monastery of the Hidden Souls
(Lingyinsi), Hall of Heavenly King (Tianwangdian),
Precious Hall of the Great Heroes (Daxiongbaodian),
Spring of the Running Tiger (Hupaoquan), Six Harmonies
Pagoda (Liuheta) and many other places.
Shaoxing, located 60 km to the east of Hangzhou is known throughout the world for its rice wine. Every year the Shaoxing brewery produces about 37,000 tons of wine and has been receiving praises for its excellent quality since the 7th century. The town has hardly been discovered by tourism, which in no way detracts from the charm and atmosphere of this small but very lively and beautiful little provincial town.
Lake Taihu which lies between Zhejiang province and Jiangsu province is 2,420 sq. km and a total of 48 islands , is the third largest lake in China. Here, similar to West Lake, the landscape are blue and green, veiled with fine mist, which has been described in many poems. The resident use the lake to catch fish, breed ducks and geese as well as lotus and water chestnuts however the most important economic factor is the cultivation of mulberry trees and silkworms. The most interesting place to visit is the largest island, Dongting Xishan which covers 90 sq. km and whose highest elevation the Blurred Peak reaches 336 metres. Also of interest is the peninsula Dongting Dongshan, to the south of the peak. On this island is a cave that is an old Taoist sacred centre and lies in the Linwu Mountain is worth seeing. It was freed from the mud of Lake Taihu in 1985. A large number of religious artifacts and utensils were discovered and now exhibited in the museum in Suzhou.
Suzhou, this city is known as the town of gardens and canals , is as charming as West Lake. Suzhou flourished as a trading and silk centre when in the early 6th century it was linked with the capital through the Grand Canal. Its most prosperous period was during the Ming and Qing dynasties, when many officials, scholars and artists settled here and the local traders grew rich. This wealth was largely invested in the 150 gardens that make Suzhou famous. The principle of Chinese garden construction which is creating an illusion of the universe in a small space can be clearly seen in these gardens.
Water flowing between bizarre, rocky shores connected by canals and zigzag bridges, winding paths and craggy rock formations. Tourist can get a good view of Suzhou from the top of the 76 metres high, nine storey North Temple Pagoda which is built in an octagonal shape.
Wuxi, can be reached from Suzhou either by train or by boat on the Emperor Canal. Wuxis history goes back to the early centuries BC. Wuxis importance grew with the completion of the Emperor Canal, and its modest wealth was achieved as in the whole region through agriculture and silk production. Today, there are about 800,000 people living in Wuxi and tourism plays an increasingly important role for the town. The mild climate, the fertile soil and sufficient water make the region around Wuxi one of the most fertile ones in China. The Chinese call it "land of fish and rice".
One special attraction here is the Emperor Canal which flows through the town and its arched bridges. Qingming Bridge in the south-east of the town is architecturally interesting. In the western part of the town is Xihui Park, an area of 44 hectares, whose name comes from the Tin Mountain, approximately 75 metre high hill and the 300 metre high Hui Mountain. The park was created between the two mountains in 1958. On the top of the Dragon Mountain is the octagonal Dragon Light pagoda from the Ming period. Hui Mountain is famous for its water which comes from the Second Spring under Heaven. Hui Hill is known for the small figures that have been made from the hills clay. From Xihui Park, adjacent to it is the Garden of Delight. This garden which covered barely a hectare was constructed about 500 years ago.
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