Aside from the places of historical interest or scenic beauty around west Lake there are many more on the outer fringes of the city. A week would Hot be too long to visit them all. The Botanical Garden is ode of the best in China with four thousand species of flora growing on an area of 230 hectares. Metasequoia which is believed to have thrived in Europe ,Asia and North America one hundred million years ago but which was thought to have died out about twenty million years ago is found here as a“living fossil”. Actual fossils of the tree have been found in other parts of the World. In China live Meta sequoia were discovered in Sichuan (Szechuan)and Hubei (Hupeh)provinces in the 1940s, an event which excited world botanical circles. The Hangzhou Botanical Garden has now succeeded in making the Metasequoia regenerate.
Here grow also the sequoia(redwood) presented to China by Richard Nixon on his 1972 visit which opened the way toward normalization of relations between the people’s Republic of China and the United States.
Bamboo in 120 varieties is grown here, ranging from a typ that shoots up to the height of a three-story building in a month to some that are mature at a few inches tall.‘‘Bamboo Kingdom”is the term used by a visiting botanist from abroad in describing the Botanical Garden.
Aromatic plants from which China’s innumerable essences and spices are produced grow here, also the Garden of a hundred Herbs on whose two-thirds of a hectare of land l,200 kinds of medicinal herbs grow. Because of the difference in their growth environment, this garden is artificially arranged with Hills, streams, valleys and ponds ag in a potted miniature garden to satisfy the different growth requirements of the herbs.
A story of international friendship surrounds the ancient lotus. Several years ago a Japanese botanist discovered viable seeds of this plant buried for a thousand years in peat in northeast China’s Liaoning Province. He took these seeds home to Japan and cultivated them. Some years later he presented forty of the seeds to Guo Moruo, the renowned Chinese scholar, and now the ancient lotus is thriving in Hangzhou.
Jade Spring, remembered for the golden carp bred in its Waters, is now part of the Botanical Garden. Lingyin Temple, west of West Lake is equally worth visiting. Translated as Temple of Soul’s Retreat, the name comes naturally from its quiet surroundings. With wooded hills on three Sides, it is really a hideaway. Yet it is the largest and most resplendent temple in the locality. Built during the Eastern Jin dynasty some l,600 years ago, the temple was ruined and rebuilt many times over the centuries. It has recently been restored to its original splendor.
Here is the Hall of the Heavenly King where seared in the Center is a statue of Maitreya the fat bare-bellied Buddha with the smiling face.
The walkway from his hall to the main hall which contains the famous statue of Sakyamuni is paved as though carpeted with green flag stones. ‘The magnificent 19-meter-high statue is seated in a lotus flower amidst great red pillars and murals of a hundred cranes. Carved of camphor wood and gilded in gold, the statue’s one foot measures l.8 meters. Behind Sakyamuni is a colorful group-sculpture of l50 Buddhas representing an episode from the Buddhist scriptures. Another remarkable work of art is a sculpture of a Bodhisattva on the back of a whale on waves of the sea.