Since the days of ancient China, the fascinating beauty of Lake Taihu and the east China city of Wuxi have attracted poets, painters, men of letters and eminent personages. It is only a three-hour train ride from Shanghai.
One of China’s five major fresh water lakes, Taihu covers an area of 2,400 square kilometers. As a natural reservoir, it supplies life-giving water to vast tracts of land; land which produces, in addition to grain, oranges, pears, loquats, apricots and other fruits, and a celebrated variety of tea called Biluochun.
For anyone who loves the sea, the vastness of Lake Taihu has a special appeal: from any one point some portion of the shore line is out of sight. In the lake there ,are three islets joined together. Some say they look like three floating hills, others say they are the bead, body and tail of a turtle. Reaching the islets by steamboat you will find traditional Chinese pavilions and arbors nestled in the midst of luxuriant trees and blooming flowers.
By the lakeside are Meiyuan (Piton Garden), Liyuan (Li Garden) and Yuantouzhu (Tortoise Head Garden), each known for its unique beauty and history. Of the three, Yuantouzhu is the largest. Extending into the lake like a tortoise frolicking in the water, it offers the best a, lew of the lake. On a misty day, it is especially poetic. With the fog-covered Turtle Islets in the distance and a fishing boat drifting past, it is a scene found elsewhere only in a traditional Chinese landscape painting. Visitors to the garden pick their way over lakeside rocks to have a look at the famous inscription on the cliff carved during the Ming dynasty (1368-I644) by an anonymous traveler.
Done in powerful strokes, it says“Embracing Wu and Yue” Lake Taihu is so big that it takes in part of Wu and part of Yue, the ancient names for Jiangsu(Kiangsu)and Zheiiang (Chekiang) provinces. Lj Yuan sits in a quit nook by the lakeside Legend has it that during the Warring States period in the 5th century B C, the State of Yue conquered the State of Wu. The Premier of the State of Yue, Fan Li, saw however that the King was a Narrow-minded person Knowing it would be difficult to work for the King for long, he resigned his post. Soon after his resignation, he and his wife Xi shi, a celebrated beauty in Chinese history went boating on Lake Taihu in the moonlight and lodged for the night by the lakeside The garden was built here and named after him.
Though Not very large, the garden is carefully designed. Entering by a gate shaped like a full moon, one steps onto a paved path at the end of which rises a tall artificial hill. From the top of the hill, one sees exquisite pavilion s and dainty bridges over ponds and streams, with the lake as the backdrop. Beyond the hill one comes to a long gallery with one side opened to the lake. There are 89 windows on the inside wall, each painted with a different design. Carved on the wall inscriptions by many noted calligraphers and men of letters of the Song dynasty (960-1279). Most famous among these cultural relics is a prose piece celebrating a picturesque hill by the lake entitled:” Spring Comes to Dongting”, handwriting by the famous poet Su Dongpo.