Hangzhou is one of China’s wealthiest and most beautiful cities. There are a lot of popular sayings making reference to the city’s beauty thanks to the West Lake full of parks and gardens, islands and promenades surrounded by delicate hills as far as the eye can see.
Hangzhou has a long History. The Hemudu farming culture flourished there 7,000 years ago. It gained importance with the construction of the Great Canal in the 6th century. From there on, it made quick progress becoming a big trade center in the southern area of Yangtze River. It became the capital city of the Song Dynasty in 1138 because of its natural beauty and good communications. Its during the Song Dynasty when Hangzhou actually flourishes as few. Being the centre for the court’s cosmopolitan and decadent life, the chronicles of the time state that the streets of Hangzhou held merchants from 50 countries. Some years later, the Mongol invaders ended with this refinement destroying the capital city of the Song and reuniting China under their rule.
The West Lake is Hangzhou most famous and most interesting tourist attraction. The Lake’s beauty is incomparable. It is a small lake of barely 14 kilometers diameter originally adjoining with the nearby Qiantang River. It is of an irregular rectangular shape and not more than 2 meters deep. Its beauty is thanks to centuries of care and its background of smooth hills is immersed in a gentle mist as far as the eye can see.
The lake is divided into two causeways. The western causeway known as Su Causeway was built by the great poet Su Dongbo. Mayor of Hangzhou during the Song Dynasty.. The northern causeway known as Bai was built in honor of the poet Bai Juyuan. The lake includes 3 islands. The only natural island is Solitary Hill and you can reach it from Bai’s causeway.
The Temple of Inspired Seclusion is one of the biggest temples in the Yangtze Delta. Pilgrimage site for the faithful of the region it is an extremely interesting place for tourist due to its long history and works of art to be found in the vicinity. Before reaching the temple you will encounter the Flying Hill. There are over 300 beautiful Buddha sculptures from the Yuan Dynasty times perfectly preserved and hidden by the thickness of the vegetation.
The Temple of Inspired Seclusion proper has three main halls. The Hall of the Four Heavenly Guardians, apart from its 4 magnificent sculptures of the celestial guardians, has a huge lamp and a splendid ceiling over the main altar. The second hall is the Great Hall where a magnificent 20-metre high Buddha statue is seated. At the back, the Hall of the Medicine Master is also interesting with another enormous Buddha and its 12 disciples.
The Six Harmonies Pagoda, built in 970 next to Qiangtang River, is one of Southern China’s largest pagodas. Moreover, the fact that it is built on a hill makes it look even taller and more spectacular. The stone and brick pagoda has a staircase inside which leads to the upper floors. On a sunny day, we recommend visitors to the ascent as there is a wonderful view of the Qiangtang River and the Iron Bridge, the oldest of China’s main bridges as well as the farmland along both banks of the river.