A four-hour train ride from Shanghai brings you to Zhenjiang, a beautiful old city steeped in legend and history. Once in ‘Zhenjiang, you must visit the three hills: Jinshan, Jiaoshan and Beigu. As the train pulis into the station, you will see Jinshan in tile distance topped by an exquisite tower. Sixty meters high, Jin- shan was originally an islet in the Changjiang (Yangtze) River. Through centuries of silting the river bed rose higher and higher until the island became a peninsula, part of the land. At the summit of Jinshan stands the elegant Tower of Benevolence and Longevity. It is octagonally shaped with seven tiers and from he uppermost tier you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the ChangJiang meandering by.
On the hillside is a temple more than 1,500 years old. In its prime, it was the home of three thousand monks. The architecture is quite unique. Built according to the contour of the slope, the halls, towers and pavilions seem to be a natural part of the hills. This is the Jinshan Temple of popular fairy tale fame, figuring in “The Stow of the White Snake”. In Chinese fairy tales, an animal, after living for thousands of years, would sometimes he granted the power to take on the shape of a human being. One of the most famous of these animals was the White Snake. Transformed into a beautiful woman, she met a young man named Xu Xian. They fell in love and married. Their tranquil family life, however, was disrupted by an old monk named Fahai. Persuading Xu Xian to come to the Jinshan Temple, Fahai warned him that he was married to an evil spirit. Frightened, the young man did not return t ohis wife. When the white Snake came to find her husband, the monk refused to let her see him. Thus, the White Snake Fairy was compelled to resort to magic, whipping up the surrounding waters and flooding the temple. Travelers to Jinshan still look for the remains of the place where the White Snake fought the Monk Fahai, as if it really exists.
In reality, the hill was the site of a famous battle which occurred during the 13th century. HAn Shizhong, a national hero of the Southern Song dynasty, led an army against all invading northern tribe While the battle raged, Han’s wife, Liang Hong- yu, stood on Jinshan and beat drums to boost the morale of the fighting soldiers. Eventually, the aggressors repulsed, Han and his army emerged victorious. Liang Hongyu is honored in Chinese history as a heroine and in the Temple of Jinshan there is 3 platform which i s said to be the place where she stood and beat the drums of victory.
Four or five kilometers northeast of Zhenjiang, a thickly- wooded hill rises up in the middle of Changjiang River. This is Jiaoshan. It is named after the hermit Jiao Guang who led his secluded life here. Hearing of his reputation as a scholar the Emperor three times offered him official posts and was three times refused. A cave on the hillside is said to have been Jiao Guang’s abode. Perched on the peak of the hill is a small building providing the early morning visitor with an enchanting view of the sunrise on the mighty Changjiang. Beside the building are the remains of a gun emplacement which was used by the people of Zhenjiang during the Opium War against the British invaders.