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The West Lake in Hangzhou

“There’s Paradise in heaven and Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth.” So said the ancients in describing the beauty of these two famous cities of east China. Hangzhou, a cultural center with a history of two thousand years, is now the capital of Zhejiang (Chekiang) Province. The city’s fame rests mainly on the picturesque West Lake on its western fringe. With an area of about six square kilometers, West Lake is surrounded on three sides by tolling wooded Mid-lake Pavilion and Ruangong isle. Solitary Hill stands by by Bai Causeway, while Su Causeway bisects the lake from north to south. The blue, often rippling, water is dotted with elegant stone bridges and charming pavilions. This, set in green hills nestling pagodas and temples, makes West Lake one of China’s greatest scenic attractions.

Ten points of interest surround the lake or are part of it. The isle of Lesser Yingzhou was built in 1607 with dredgings from the lake. The island’s fascination becomes apparent only willows and flowers in the center of which is a smaller island. Lesser Yingzhou is literally “a lake within a lake, and an isle within an isle”. The smaller isle connects with the shore by a zigzag bridge with thirty turns. Dotted with terraces and pavilion, the isle is an attraction of the small type.

Three Pools Reflecting the Moon is across the zigzag bridge though still a part of Lesser Yingzhou, cairn and with three 16th-century stone pagodas rising from it. Moonlight shining through holes in these pagodas is reflected on the water as three moons, giving the place its name. Mid-lake Pavilion, as its name indicates, is a traditional- style structure rising above the water like a mirage in the morning haze.

Solitary Hill is the center of most of the scenic spots of West Lake. The hill is reached from the city by Bal Causeway, a long embankment flanked by peach trees and weeping willows at regular intervals. It is named after one of the greatest poets of the Tang dynasty, Bai Juyi, who in 822 was demoted from his official post in the Tang court to that of Governor of Hang-zhou for satirizing the court in his poems. During his three years in Hangzhou he had West Lake dredged, bringing water to surrounding farmland and earning the local people’s gratitude so that they named the causeway after him.

Autumn Moon on the Calm Lake lies at the southeastern toot of Solitary hill. Built 280 years ago, the park is colorful with palmed pavilions. A zigzag bridge leads to a stone plat- form almost level with the water, providing a view as though one were standing on the water– quite enchanting particularly with the moon shining on its shimmering surface.

Solitary Hill is never without flowers. Crane Pavilion at the foot of the hill it lovely in spring with plum blossoms, it is said that in the tenth century there was a ,well-known poet by the name of Lin Hejing who expressed his disdain for the corrupt officialdom by secluding himself on the hill while writing poetry, painting, cultivating plum trees and raising a pair of cranes. When he died, all 56o of his plum trees withered and his two white cranes died. presumably of grief. The local pen pie buried the cranes beside Lifts tomb and built Crane Pavilion. They also planted many more plum trees on the hill in his memory.

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