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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hangzhou

Hangzhou (Hangchow) lies in the north of Zhejiang province, in the Qiantangjiang delta, about 40km/25mi west of Hangzhou Bay, at 120°12'E and 30°15'N.

The rather tranqil town of Hangzhou, popularly known as ''Silk City'', is one of China's most beautiful towns; in the words of the well-known Chinese proverb ''In Heaven is Paradise, here on earth are Suzhou and Hangzhou''. The famous ''Dragon Well'' tea (Longjing cha) which is hand-picked twice a year is grown in this region.

West Lake

West LakeWest Lake
To the west of Hangzhou's Old Town is West Lake, picturesquely backed by hills and dotted with four islands.

Temple of the Hidden Immortals

The Temple of the Hidden Immortals (Linying Si), 3km/2mi southwest of Jade Spring, dates from 326 BC and is one of the most famous temples in China. It is thought that in the 10th C there were some 300 buildings here housing 3000 monks. After having been destroyed during the Taiping Uprising (1851-64) the building was rebuilt.

Hall of the Celestial Kings

In the Hall of the Celestial Kings (Tianwang Dian) sits a sculpture of Maitreya and a wooden statue of Weituo from the Southern Song period (1127-1279). To the side can be seen the statues of the Four Celestial Kings.

Sumptuous Hall of the Great Hero

The Sumptuous Hall of the Great Hero (Daxiong Baodian) stands 33.6m/110ft high. Pilgrims come to pay homage to a gilded statue of Shakyamuni, 19.6m/64ft tall and made of 24 pieces of camphor-wood. Behind the statue can be seen a figure of Guanyin.

The Peak That Flew from Afar

The Peak That Flew from Afar (Feilai Feng) is separated from The Temple of the Hidden Immortals by a mountain stream. According to legend an Indian monk who came here in the year 326 asked ''In which year did this Indian mountain fly here? When Buddha was alive it was the favorite resting place of immortal souls.'' It was thus that the mountain and the monastery built in that same year both got their names.
The mountain is riddled with numerous caves and niches, the latter containing about 380 Buddha statues which date back to the 10th C, the time of the Five Dynasties. The three oldest examples, dating from 951, can be seen on the east wall of the Qinglin Cave; one is of Shakyamuni, one of Avalokiteshvara and the third is a Bhaisajya (or ''Medicine Buddha'') statue.
The largest sculpture on this peak is to be found on its northern slope; it is a Maitreya from the Song period (960-1279), wearing a satisfied smile and holding a rosary in one hand.

North Peak

To the north of the Temple of the Hidden Immortals is North Peak (Beigao Feng), with steps leading up to it. From the top there is a superb view of West Lake and the surrounding scenery.

Surroundings

Pagoda Of The Six HarmoniesPagoda Of The Six Harmonies

Pagoda of the Six Harmonies

About 8km/5mi south of Hangzhou, on the north bank of the Qiantangjiang river, the visitor will find the 60m/200ft high Pagoda of the Six Harmonies. When it was rebuilt in 1899 the original brick core was retained and wood-cladding added to the exterior.
On this site there once stood a former pagoda towering to a height of 150m/500ft or so, built in 970 but burned down by a foreign army in 1121. The pagoda is thought to offer protection from floods and also serves as a lighthouse.
Although from the outside the octagonal building appears to have thirteen stories, in fact there are only seven. A staircase incorporated in the wood-cladding enables visitors to climb almost to the top. From there the view includes the 1322m/3966ft long road and rail bridge over the Qiantangjian river which was built between 1934 and 1937 to designs by the architect Mao Yisheng.
Collected together in a park at the Pagoda of the Six Harmonies are 80 or so reconstructions of pagodas from all over China.

Mount Moganshan

Mount Moganshan, 719m/2360ft high, lies 50km/31mi northwest of Hangzhou and 200km/124mi southwest of Shanghai. There are bus services from both those cities.
The word ''Mogan'' is formed from two separate names, Mo Xie and Gan Jiang, being those of a married couple who lived in the 5th C BC. Both were very skilled sword smiths who devoted their lives to making two incomparably beautiful swords for the emperor.
Of the many picturesque spots which the countryside around Hangzhou has to offer, special mention should be made of Sword Lake (Jian Chi), on the banks of which - so legend has it - Mo Xie and Gan Jiang would sit and polish the swords they had just forged. An impressive three-stage waterfall feeds water into the lake.

Spring of the Running Tiger

The Spring of the Running Tiger (Hupao Quan), 5km/3mi south of West Lake, is one of three best known springs in China. A legend describes how it was discovered in 819 with the help of two tigers. The spring produces 0.37 cu.m/80gallons) of water per second; the quality is regarded as being extremely good and it is ideal for making tea. The high surface tension of the water is an interesting factor; visitors can test this by placing a coin on the surface and watching it float. There is a tea-house in the former temple nearby.

Dragon Well

3km/2mi southwest of West Lake, to the east of the village of the same name, lies Dragon Well (Longjing) in the midst of some beautiful countryside, a feature of which are the tea plantations which produce the fine Dragon Well tea (Longjiang Cha). According to the villagers the spring which provides water for the well was discovered some time before 1800.
A visit is recommended to one of the tea factories in which the fresh tea-leaves are refined, processed and packed.
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