A famous Chinese saying goes that as heaven exists in heaven, so on earth there are Hangzhou e Suzhou. Hangzhou, now the capital of the Zhejiang region, was once upon a time one of the most spectacular cities in China, also praised by Marco Polo, and still today manages to keep intact the ancient charm in a truly remarkable way.
Hangzhou, along with all surrounding towns and villages, is built on a dense network of canals dug between the regions of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
One of the oldest surviving and accessible engineering works is the Grand Canal, more than 1600 km long, created to connect the Yangtze basin to Beijing and northern China, thus bringing, in situations of need, not only water but also products cultivated in the flourishing lands of the center and south (and troops of soldiers in times of war).
Curiosity: the Gran Canal was wanted by the megalomaniac emperor himself who decided to build the great Wall and who, by dint of ordering impossible plans, ended up hanged by his own advisers.
As well as the Great Wall, the Grand Canal is now closed for many sections, while others are in ruins. The connection between Hangzhou and Suzhou remains active, where it is possible to sail on beautiful night cruise ships.
- What to see: West Lake
- FeiLaFeng and Longyin Temple
- A millenary tradition: the National Tea Museum
- User questions and comments
What to see: West Lake
One of the main attractions of Hangzhou is the splendid West Lake, a destination that has become almost a sort of obligatory pilgrimage for all Chinese at least once in their life.
The lake is not very big, in one afternoon you can do the whole tour on foot (alternatively there are connections by bus, boat and pedal boat, as well as golf carts available for hire) and the best time to do it is definitely sunset , not only for the orange reflecting on the water, but also because it is the moment when the fierce and numerous groups of tourists begin to retreat and you can therefore enjoy a better view.
The center of the lake is dotted with various islands and islets, some reachable on foot via long bridges, while to visit the others you can take pleasant cruises. One of the most visited islands is those of the Three Ponds Reflecting The Moon, so famous that it appears printed on the back of 1 Yuan banknotes. These are 4 islets connected to X by stone walkways, from which you can see the 3 small stupas that on full moon nights and during festivals are used as lanterns to illuminate part of the lake.
FeiLaFeng and Longyin Temple
All of Hangzhou's major attractions are located around the lake area. Of particular interest are the mountains to the west of West Lake, now transformed into a Unesco heritage park for the rock sculptures that make the area sacred to Buddhists and for the Longyin temple. The park bears the interesting name of FeiLaFeng, or Peak Arrived In Flight, due to the legend about his formation: an Indian monk who traveled to China thought he recognized the exact copy of an Indian Buddhist place of worship in the area he was visiting.
Not believing that there could be two identical places in the world, he became convinced that the mountain had flown directly from India. To prevent the peak from flying again, the monk ordered it to be "sealed" to the ground with a series of sculptures and bas-reliefs which, apparently, continue to keep the mountain anchored to this day.
A millenary tradition: the National Tea Museum
"A bowl of tea soothes the burning throat
Two push away loneliness and problems
Three ignite inspiration and make writing easier
Four causes a slight sweating that calms the restless mind
Five invigorate me and six make me immortal
Seven is more than enough
making me feel only a light breeze rising from under the armpits "(Lu Tong).
Not far from Longyin Temple and FeiLaFeng, the area where the lees are grown begins China's finest tea plantations: this is the village and surroundings of Longjing (which also gives its name to tea), easily reachable by bus from the city center.
The walk through the tidy rows of tea plants is very pleasant.
The air is fragrant, there are various temples that can be visited in the area, and small tea houses where you can taste the delicate green tea of Longjing (literally, "dragon's well").
Furthermore, the Chinese government recently inaugurated the first, and for now only, the country's tea museum, in a beautiful park at the entrance to the village. IS' Free subscription and at the end of the visit you can take part in a traditional tea ceremony with a taste of some of the varieties grown in the region. And then it can be really fun to walk among the odes to tea and praise to the Party that has done so much to expand the production of the national drink!
ARTICLE MADE BY:
Silvia and Giacomo from the blog endoftherainbow.net
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