West Lake is located in the western area of Hangzhou City’s center in China. There are dozens of lakes called West Lake worldwide, but “West Lake” usually refers to the Hangzhou West Lake. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides, with an area of around 6.5 square kilometers. The circumference is around 15 kilometers. The average depth of West Lake is 0.8 meters, and the capacity is about 14,290,000 cubic meters. The lake is divided by Gu Shan, Bai, Su and Yanggong Causeways into five areas. Ordered by their areas, they are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake, Little South Lake and Yue Lake. “Outer West Lake” is the largest. “Gu Shan” or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake. Su & Bai Causeways run cross the lake. Three small man-made islands, “Xiao Ying Zhou”, “Hu Xin Ting”, “Ruan Gong Dun”, lie in the center of Outer West Lake. Thus, the basic layout is “one hill, two causeways, three islands, and five lakes”.
West Lake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes and revolutionary martyrs, thus embracing many aspects of Chinese culture. In addition, many ancient buildings, stone caves and engraved tablets in surrounding areas are among the most cherished national treasures of China, with significant artistic value.
Leifeng Pagoda is a five storey tall tower with eight sides, located on Sunset Hill south of West Lake in Hangzhou. Originally constructed in the year AD 975, it collapsed in 1924 but was rebuilt in 2002, since then it has been a popular tourist attraction.
Due to its prominent historical and cultural status among Chinese scenic resorts, West Lake was elected as a National Key Scenic Resort in 1982, one of Ten Scenic Resorts in 1985 and national 5A tourist resort in 2006. Moreover, the picture of “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon” was printed on the backs of both the foreign exchange certificate one yuan bill issued by the government in 1979 and the fifth version of RMB one yuan bill issued in 2004, indicating the status of West Lake in China.
A walk around the perimeter of the lake although long (approx 15km) is a wonderful way to spend a few hours. Along the way you will. See many of the locals out exercising, cycling, playing musical instruments, dancing or practicing some martial arts.
This old man was practicing his Chinese calligraphy using a large brush and a pail of water.
Along with its cultural importance, West Lake historically was also of value for the local commercial fishermen. According to statistics from 1977, the 560-hectare lake had the annual fish yield of 1300 kg/hectare, quite a bit more than for some larger lakes (e.g., the 1500-hectare East Lake of Wuhan had the yield of only 450 kg/ha).
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, shown on the 1 RMB note, is located in the south central portion of Hangzhou’s West Lake. The name also refers to Xiaoying Island, one of the three islands in West Lake, along with Mid-Lake Pavilion (Hu Xin Ting) and Ruan Gong Islet (Ruan Gong Dun). The three pools refer to the three pear-shaped pagodas arranged in a triangle in the water. Erected by the poet and public official Su Shi, their purpose was to indicate that water chestnuts and lotus plants were not allowed to be grown in the area to prevent silt from building up in the lake. Later, during the reign of Emperor Wanli in the Ming Dynasty, the three pagodas were rebuilt. The existing ones were reconstructed in 1699 during the 38th year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign in the Qing Dynasty.The pagodas are around 2 meters high with hollow interiors. The belly of each pagoda has five circular holes, into which lamps or candles can be placed, especially on mid-autumn nights when the bright moon hangs in the sky. When the circular holes are covered with sheets of thin paper, beams of light will reflect on the water through the holes. The moonlight, lamplight and lake light add radiance and charm to one another.
The Yue Fei Temple or commonly known in Chinese as Yuewang Temple is a temple built in honor of Yue Fei, a general of the Southern Song dynasty who fought against the Jurchen Jin Dynasty during the Jin–Song wars, after the capital of China moved south to Hangzhou. The temple ground is located near the West Lake, in central Hangzhou.
The temple was first constructed in the during the Song Dynasty in 1221 to commemorate Yue Fei. The site includes Yue Fei’s Temple, Loyalty Temple and Yue Fei’s Mausoleum inside. The temple was reconstructed several times in later date. The tombs and the tomb sculptures in the temple all dates from the 12th century, and have been meticulously restored.
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