Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, is one of the seven ancient capitals in China. Located on the north bank of Qiantang River, it is a garden-like city famous for its scenic charm. Marco Polo, who once visited here, praised it as "the finest and most splendid city in the world." There is a famous saying, "Up there is heaven, down here is Su and Hang." Chinese people regard Suzhou (Su) and Hangzhou (Hang) as "the paradise on Earth."
Whenever Hangzhou is referred, West Lake is invariably reminded. It is so named because it is located on the west side of the city. Many men of letters favored its picturesque scenery. In the Song Dynasty, the great poet Su Dongpo wrote a poem about it,
Likened West Lake to Lady Xizi (one of the four ancient beauties),
Charming she looks whether richly made up or only slightly so.
On three sides West Lake is sheltered by hills, with open flat land only to the northeast where downtown Hangzhou is located. There are two causeways on West Lake, one known as Bai causeway after Bai Juyi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, and the other known as Su causeway after Su Dongpo. From the wooded hillsides peep out temples, pagodas and towers and pavilions. Bai Juyi was once the governor of Hangzhou and he had the Bai causeway built. Just before his departure, he wrote down the lines as follows,
Lovingly my eyes dwell on every familiar sight,
The lakeside view I'll miss most sadly of all.About 260 years after Bai Juyi left Hangzhou, Su Dongpo was appointed the deputy governor of the town. During his term of office, Su Dongpo, like Bai Juyi before him, also had the lake dredged and a causeway constructed, which is the Su causeway today.
Hangzhou used to be known for ten scenic sights on West Lake. There are now more than 40 places of scenic and historical interest scattered around West Lake. In these places visitors are reminded of the words and deeds of real heroes and heroines as well as of those who are found in imaginative literature only. Such names of Yue Fei, the beautiful maiden White Snake, Ji Gong the beggar monk, and Xi Shi (or Xizi) the ancient beauty, are involved.
Of the many famous sights, Lingyin Temple (Soul's Retreat Temple) seems to have earned a most resounding fame. The temple, built in 326 by the Indian monk Hui Li, is one of the largest temple complexes in China.
Feilai Peak, situated in front of Lingyin Temple, is famous for its more than 470 stone carvings of Buddhist figures, which date from the 10th to 14th centuries.
Six Harmonies Pagoda is located on the Yuelun Hill besides Qiantang River, Six Harnonies Pagoda was built by King of Wuyu to ward off Qiantang bore. As high as 59.89 meters, this grand pagoda has 7 sides and 8 stories. Looked down from the top, all Qiantang River beauty is birdviewed.
Tiger Running Park is also a nice place to go for a vist. It is nearly impossible to list here all the scenic attractions in Hangzhou. Only when one visits the place himself will he get an idea of the inexhaustible delight it may offer.
See: Hangzhou & Huangshan Tour and Shanghai, Hangzhou and Huangshan Tour