The great lake

Updated: 2011-07-22 12:03

By Patrick Whiteley (China Daily European Weekly)

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The great lake


The great lake

New unesco honor for heavenly Hangzhou's West Lake will help attract more foreign tourists

More European tourists are expected to flock to Hangzhou in the coming years after the city's famous West Lake was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the lake and surrounding hills, joins 40 other Chinese icons, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, as a world heritage treasure.

West Lake draws more than 30 million people a year, making it one of the country's top attractions. Sipping the area's famed longjing tea is a must for any visitor as one soaks in the tranquility that has inspired so many Chinese poets and artists through the ages.

Li Hong, director general of Hangzhou Tourism Commission, says the World Heritage Committee's decision to rank the West Lake in such high esteem would create a tourist windfall. "We will strive to preserve this China treasure, so future generations can enjoy this paradise on earth," he says.

The lake is situated in the center of the city and the Hangzhou government offers free public bikes for tourists to travel around the lake. Admission is free. Here are five famous scenic sites worth checking out.


The great lake

1. Leifeng Pagoda in Sunset Glow

Qian Hongchu, a Song Dynasty (960-1279) noble, built this pagoda for his concubine who gave birth to his son. It gets its name because the hill where the pagoda stands is known as Leifeng. At sunset, the pagoda looks especially impressive, however over the years has been the victim of a number of attacks. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Japanese pirates burned it to the ground and in the 1920s thieves stole bricks from its foundations causing it to collapse. In 2002, the pagoda was reconstructed.


 The great lake

2. Autumn Moon over Calm Lake

This site was named during the Southern Dynasty (AD 420-589) at a time when people enjoyed boating on the lake and gazing at the bright moon while taking in the cool breeze. This unofficial poetic reference lingered until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when Emperor Kangxi summed up his sightseeing tour in Hangzhou by naming the top 10 West Lake attractions. A stone tablet was erected with Autumn Moon over Calm Lake inscribed on it at a location near the Solitary Hill and the west end of the Bai Causeway. Since then, this lakeside location has been the hot spot for night boat rides on the lake.


 The great lake

3. Clouds Lingering over Bamboo Forest

This is one of the "10 new scenic sites" and is located southwest of West Lake. The greater area is called Wuyun Hill but there is a special path called Lingering Clouds over Bamboo Forest. This quiet cobbled path is lined with bamboo and at the end sits the famous Mind Purifying Pool (pictured). This the perfect place to sit quietly with friends and sip the famous longjing green tea, especially in the summer.



The great lake 
4. Viewing Fish at Flower Pond

Initially, the park was a small private garden owned by Lu Yunsheng, an imperial official of the Southern Dynasty. Later, the private garden gained fame for its splendid collection of fish. Painters and poets competed with each in capturing the essence of this site. In the Qing Dynasty, the park was relocated in today's place, much nearer to the West Lake. Today's Flower Harbor is famed for its half-a-year-long flower scenery.



 The great lake

5. Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer

Since the Southern Song Dynasty, this site has been a favorite because of its abundance of lotus flowers.

It was once the location of a brewery and visitors said the blended scent of

lotus flowers and cool lake breezes was intoxicating. The brewery is no longer there but the area is still popular with photographers because of the wonderful array of beautiful lotus flowers.




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