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Shanghai’s Town God’s Temple-Yuyuan

When in Shanghai you will likely visit the Temple of die Town God(chenghuangmiao)in the southern section of the city Buddhist devotees burned incense before idols here in the old Days, and while most of the worshipers are gone, thousands of people go to its Yuyuan Garden ever)’day for recreation or special shopping.

A serpentine dragon wall surrounds Yuyuan Garden within the Town God’s Temple grounds the Garden itself was built some four hundred years ago during the Ming dynasty According to historical records,a high-ranking official had it built for his elderly parents imitating the style of imperial gardens in Beijing(Peking), with buildings in the traditional Chinese style Considered one of the most elegant of south China’s compact gardens it has the special charm of offering a retreat amidst the metropolitan rush of Shanghai.

Yuyuan, though small, provides a variety of scenery. Just inside the gate is the Hall for Viewing the Rockery. The rookery is a 12-meter-high pile of unique yellowish stones with maples and plane trees planted in them. Viewed from a distance it appears like faraway mountains and valleys with 8 pavilion on top Before high buildings blocked the view, one could watch boats sailing on the Hangzhou River from this pavilion Descending from the pavilion, the visitor passes a moon gate to the hall of Ten Thousand Flowers, though a bit of over Statement, many flowers and shrubs flourish here. A 400-year- old gingko tree grows in front of the hall, while facing it is another man-made rookery with a pond at its foot This ls a good place to sit on a summer day, where trees offer shade and there arc fish in the pond to watch.

A winding corridor leads from the Hall of Ten Thousand Flowers to the Hall of Spring, headquarters of the Small Sword Society over one hundred years ago when tho people of Shanghai rose against imperialist aggression and the reactionary rule of the using government. It was this Small Sword Society that in 1853 launched an armed uprising coordination with the rebellion of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Displayed in the Hall of Spring today are photographs and relics of the uprising. In a clearing near the Hall of Spring stands a giant stone called the Exquisite Jade, surrounded by flowers and trees. Transported to Shanghai from Taihu Lake in Jiangsu Province, it has been beautifully carved by the action of the water. It is said that this stone was treasured by the Song Emperor Hui Zong who reigned in the l2th century as a“natural fountain’’ and a“natural incense burner”, for water poured into a hole on top will spurt out from the many other holes in it, while the moke of incense burned under it will curl from every hole. Yuyuan Garden was vandalized several times over tho years, and many of the buildings fell into ruins. The Hall of Ton Thousand Flowers was collapsing by the time of liberation, its big rockery overgrown with weeds. In l949, the People’s Government had the garden renovated, and it was reopened to the public. Yuyuan Garden today occupies only half the area it originally did, but even so it gives a fair idea of its olden grandeur.

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