West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and Lake Geneva (Lac Léman, in French) in Geneva, Switzerland, have - not unjustifiably - both been likened to pearls. The presence of a lake as magnificent as West Lake in the heart of a city contributes significantly to the special charm of that city, and West Lake's contribution to the beauty and charm of Hangzhou is no exception.These are the words composed by the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1127). In this poem, he compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, one of the four beauties in ancient China. These poetic sentiments depict the charm of the lake which has always been a beautiful and romantic spot since ancient times.
West Lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides. In the east, it is close to Hangzhou's urban areas. The average depth of the lake is around 1.5 meters, with a maximum depth of 2.8 meters. Except for the area in the immediate vicinity of the shores, as well as the naturally-occurring sand bars, or banks, as they are called, that subdivide the lake, West Lake has a minimum depth of not less than 1 meter. The SuDi (Su Bank) and the Bai Di (Bai Bank) divide the lake's surface into five sub-lakes: Li Lake, Wai Lake, Yue Lake, Xili Lake and Xiaonan Lake, each of which possesses its own beauty and charm. The most famous locales, or sites, on the lake, according to cultural sources dating from the Southern Song (CE 1127-1279) Dynasty, are referred to as the "Ten Scenic Sites of West Lake".
Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring
As the No. 1 of ten scenes of the West Lake, the Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring is intoxicating and delighting. With a length of 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers), the Su Causeway was constructed under the guidance of the great poet Su Dongpo in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). There are six bridges along the causeway, including the Crossing Rainbow Bridge, the Eastern Lakeside Bridge, the Suppressing Dike Bridge, the Viewing Hills Bridge, the Locking Waves Bridge, and the Reflecting Ripples Bridge. There is a willow or a peach tree every certain distance. In spring, the green willow buds and the pink peach blossoms will take the breath of tourists away, hence the fame.
Winery Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer
The Winery Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer in the northwest of the lake is a time-honored scenic spot. It is said that there used to be a winery surrounded by lotus flowers in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) there. The fragrance of the lotus flowers and the aroma of wine were spread afar by the gentle breeze in summer, hence the name of the scenic spot. Presently, the scenic spot is divided into five sections, including the Yuehu Lake, the Bamboo Garden, the Lakeside Woods, the Winery Yard, and the Lotus Pool. Tourists can enjoy various species of lotus flowers, experience the imperial wine culture of the Southern Song Dynasty, and appreciate the beautiful gardens of southern China. It will be an enjoyable and unforgettable experience!
Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn
West Lake has been an ideal place to appreciate the glorious full moon since ancient times. The Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn is to the west of the Bai Causeway by the West Outer Lake. It consists of the Imperial Stele Pavilion, an octagonal pavilion, a platform over the lake, and some other buildings. The broad platform is a perfect spot to admire the full moon. In addition, there is a Xiling Calligraphy and Painting Gallery. Tourists can enjoy the beautiful moonlight, and feel the atmosphere of traditional Chinese culture.
Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge in Winter
The Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge in Winter scenic spot is at the foot of the Precious Stone Hill to the east end of the Bai Causeway. Built in 1921, the single-span Broken Bridge is 9.6 yards (8.8 meters) long, and 9.4 yards (8.4 meters) wide. When seen from the Baoshi Mountain after snow, the bridge seems as if it were broken because the snow in the middle part has melted while the snow at the ends is still lingering. The remaining white snow is glistening in the sunshine. It is fabulous!
Orioles Singing in the Willows
The Orioles Singing in the Willows Scene is located at the Qingbo Gate to the southeast of the Outer West Lake. It was the largest imperial garden called the Landscape Gathering Garden in the Southern Song Dynasty. Along the nearby dike are willows of various species. At the center of the garden is the Orioles House. Near the Orioles is a gigantic bird cage called the "Birds' Paradise". In March, tourists can appreciate the flying willow branches while listening to the warbling of orioles. It is intoxicating!
Viewing Fish at Flower Pond
Located at the Red Carp Pond to the south of the Su Causeway, the Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor Scenic Spot is a large park of over 49 acres (20 hectares). It is made up of five scenic spots: flower harbor, the red carp pond, the peony garden, the great lawn, and groves. The whole park is surrounded by the flower harbor, a sightseeing river way that connects the West Inner Lake with the South Lake. The red carp pond at the center of the park is swarming with red carp. Tourists can lean on the rails of a zigzag bridge to appreciate them. To the west of the red carp pond are exuberant groves and the Peony Garden centering on the Peony Pavilion. When these peonies are in full blossom, the gentle breeze blows the petals onto the surface of the lake, forming an amazing scene. To the north of the red carp pond is a large lawn interspersed with arbors for tourists to have a rest. For centuries, the Viewing Fish at Flower Pond has provided natural beauty and cultural connotations for emperors and poets who have expressed their admiration through poems, calligraphy, and drawings.
Leifeng Pagoda in the Lake Area Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow
The Leigfeng Pagoda in Evening Glow scene is located at the top of the Evening Glow Mountain to the south of the West Outer Lake. At dusk, the evening glow and the spectacular Leifeng Pagoda are reflected in the rippling lake. It looks very beautiful! The Leifeng Pagoda was constructed by the king of the Wuyue Kingdom to celebrate the pregnancy of his concubine during the Five Dynasties and Ten Sates Period (907-960). It was damaged and renovated several times later. Standing on the pagoda over 230 feet (70 meters) in height, tourists can enjoy the panoramic view of the lake.
Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds
Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds refers to South Peak and North Peak. The South Peak is 843 feet (256.9 meters) in height, and the North Peak is 1,165 feet (355 meters). They face each other across a distance of about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers). The natural scenery is exceptionally beautiful, especially when it is cloudy or after a rainfall. At that time, only the two tops of the peaks can be seen in the thick fog. It looks as if the fog is being pierced by the two peaks, thus the name 'Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds'.
Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill
The Nanping Hill to the south of the West Outer Lake is less than 328 feet (100 meters) high, but it is more than 1,094 yards (1,000 meters) long. The Jingci Temple at the foot of the Nanping Hill was constructed by the king of the Wuyue Kingdom in 954 during the Five Dynasties and Ten States Period. The famous Xingjiao Temple also at the hill foot was built in the fifth year (972) of the Kaibao Period in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The bells ring at dawn and drums beat at dust in the temples. The rocks and caves in the Nanping Hill vibrate in resonance with the incoming sound-waves.
Hangzhou Travel Guide