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Ten Scenes of the West Lake

06-26-2012 15:06 BJT

"Rippling waters shimmering on a sunny day, Misty mountains shrouded in rain; Plain or gaily dressed like Xizi; West Lake is always alluring." These are the words used by the celebrated Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo to describe Hangzhou’s West Lake.

Photo Source: hangzhou.gov.cn

Regarded by many as China’s most beautiful lake, standing on its shores, it’s easy to understand Su’s allusion to Xizi, reputedly ancient China’s most beautiful woman. The subject of many of the country’s most famous literary and artistic works, and the inspiration for countless more, West Lake has for centuries been working its charm on all those who gaze upon it.

Located in Hangzhou, a medium-sized city three and a half hours’ drive from Shanghai, the lake is a popular day trip included on many Shanghai travel itineraries. Visitors to the lake can plan to spend their time viewing the "Ten Scenes of the West Lake". A collection of ten scenic views formed during the Southern Song Dynasty, they are distributed around and within the lake, and serve to show the charms of the West Lake – through a use of varying locations, varying seasons, and varying times of day. Each scene is unique, and when taken together, are said to present the essence of West Lake scenery, and form the core of any West Lake tour.

Photo Source: hangzhou.gov.cn

First is the Spring Dawn at Su Causeway, which is a thin strip of land nearly three kilometers long covered with peach and weeping willow trees. In spring, with the lakeside sparkling in the morning dew, birds cheerfully chirping among swaying willow branches, the scent of peach blossoms wafting through the air, you‘ll question whether you’re in the midst of paradise.

Then comes the Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard. This typical West Lake scene has earned its fame since the Southern Song Dynasty, when the lakeside area with an abundant growth of lotus off its shores was known as Crooked Courtyard, and was the location of a brewery. People said the smell of lotus flowers and wine blended by the cool lake breezes was intoxicating. Nowadays the brewery is gone, and the area has been turned into a big park, but plenty of lotus plants still bloom off its shores. They stand gracefully erect in the lake, as if they knew they had visitors coming to admire their beauty.

Photo Source: hangzhou.gov.cn

The next listed on the ten scenic itineraries is the Autumn Moon on Calm Lake. At the western end of Bai Causeway is located a lakeside park which houses a stone tablet bearing the etched calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, which reads: "Autumn Moon on Calm Lake". The lake is a special place to appreciate the moon and the effect of moonlight on the land. The moon seems especially bright over the waters. The hills look purplish bathed in the moonlight. The best time for nighttime viewing is on Mid-Autumn Day.

The most romantic scene of the ten must-see around the West Lake is the Melting Snow on the Broken Bridge. The stone-arched Broken Bridge is where the characters of a famous Chinese folktale, Xu Xian and a beautiful girl, who is actually a white snake, first met and fell in love with each other.

Photo Source: hangzhou.gov.cn


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