Hangzhou was first established by Qinshihuang, the first emperor in China, around 221 B.C. when he abandoned the boat ashore on the Qiantang River and set up a county right at spot named "Qiantang". Though Hangzhou city adopted several other names later on, such as: Wulin, Linan, etc, but the name:"Hangzhou" is just become since the city comes out from water and "Hang" in classical Chinese means sailing on water. Hangzhou indicates "a city accessible by sailing".
A birds-eye view of the West Lake and downtown:
Originally the Qiantang River joined the China sea right at place where now the downtown located. And the sea water came further on reaching to the foot of the Northern and Southern Peaks in the form of a shallow bay. The total plain lands were all covered by water at that time, including the present downtown area. Day and night, the river ran down into the sea with the sands and earths which were pushed back by sea waves from the negative direction. Those sands and earths gradually gathered at the intersection between the river and sea to form a piece of land seperating the protru_ding shallow bay from the sea body.
Hence there was a lagoon formed. That's the West Lake. According to the famous geologist: Li Si Guang, the formation of the lake could be date back to 4000 years.
The West Lake has got different names over the centuries, such as the "Qiantang Lake", since it used to be part of Qiantang River, "Golden Ox Lake"(Jinniu Hu) when a golden ox emerged from the lake in Han Dynasty(202 B.C.- 09 A.D). "Splendid Reign Lake"(Mingsheng Hu), an eulogy of feudal empire. "Xi Zi Lake"(Xi Zi Hu), contributed by Su Dongpo(1037 - 1101),in his poem he compared the lake to a classical local girl, Xi Zi. "Xi" means west in Chinese. Well, the lake is generally known as West Lake, because it lies west of downtown.
苏堤春晓 Spring Dawn at Su Causeway（Sudi Chunxiao）
It's a 2.8 km. long boulevard cutting across the south-north scenic area, and lined with trees and flowering plants. When Spring comes with crimson peach blossoms and green willows; the scenery is all the more charming. Strolling along the boulevard, one feels as if the West Lake were wakening in dawn mist. Young willows were ethereal, spring breeze so caressing, and birds were chirping in unison.
曲院风荷Lotus in the Breeze at the Crooked Courtyard(Quyuan Fenghe)
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. It has become an attractive place for enjoying the lotus flowers in summer.
花港观鱼 Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor(Huagang Guanyu)
Another spot to check up the vivid life and catch up with birds chirping out of the ten charms of the West Lake is the Viewing Fish and Lotus Ponds at Flower Pond Over here Flower Pond Park occupies an area of twenty-one hectares on a peninsula in the southwest corner of the lake. In its heart is the Red Fish Pond, where people can relax to the sight of brightly colorful fish swimming around and to the brisk melody of chirpy birdsong. To stay with nature is a highly enjoyable experience.
雷峰夕照Sunsetting over the Leifeng Pagoda（Leifeng Xizhao）
Leifeng Pagoda is another renowned scenic spot in Hangzhou. Originally built in the 10th century, Leifeng Pagoda used to stand in front of Jingxi Temple on Nanping Mountain; though failed to stand the test of time, the Pagoda collapsed in early 1900s. In 2002, Leifeng Pagoda was reconstructed; then comes back the typical Sunset Glow over Leifeng Pagoda, one of the ten charms of West Lake, as the Pagoda looks especially majestic when surrounded by the golden hues of the setting sun. With combination of a traditional aesthetic style and modern architecture techniques, Leifeng Pagoda affords a view of West Lake in its entirety.
平湖秋月 Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake (Pinghu Qiuyue)
As one of the Ten West Lake Views, the "Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake"(Pinghu Qiuyue) is actually a tea house overlooking the West 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.
三潭映月 Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
双峰插云Twin Peaks Soaring through the Clouds (Shuangfeng Chayun)
南屏晚钟 Evening Bell Echoing at Nanping Hill(Nanping Wanzhong)
Nanping Mountain stretches along the southern bank of the Lake. At dusk, with the sun slowly drifting into the Lake on the west, a huge bell at Jingxi Temple, will ring its farewell to the last sunbeam of the day. With the prolonged bell sound reverberating across the Lake, the peaceful and sacred air offers you a perfect occasion for meditation.
断桥残雪 Melting Snow on the Broken Bridge (Duanqiao Canxue)
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. After a snowfall, when the snow on the more exposed side has melted, with the shaded side remaining white, it looks as if a long white belt has been ripped apart on the bridge, thus earning the name "Melting Snow on the Broken Bridge".
柳浪闻莺Orioles Singing in the Rippling Willows (Liulang Wenying)
Orioles Singing in the Rippling Willows was recognized as one of the Ten Views of the West Lake in the Southern Song Dynasty. With such a poetic name for a park, Orioles Singing in the Rippling Willows, you can understand what you will get to admire. And this park was a royal park during the reign of this dynasty. It is too beautiful with green willows and orioles trilling. Here in this park you get to see large willows, not all are in the same species, ornamental willows are particularly lovely. You can relax yourself completely among the willows with the song bird orioles trilling merrily.
New Ten views of the West Lake
虎跑梦泉 Dreaming of Tiger Spring at Hupao Valley (Hupao Mengquan)
The legend goes that two tights ran there and made a hole where a spring gushed out. The Longjing Tea and the Tiger-running Spring water are always reputed as the "Two Wonders of the West Lake". Situated at the foot of Daci Hill southwest to the West Lake, Tiger Spring ranks the third best in China. “Dragon Well Tea” and “Tiger Spring water” are rated as two uniqueness of the West Lake. According to the experts, the mineralization of the spring water is as low as 0.02 - 0.15 gram in every liter because the water is seeping through quartzite contains little dissolved matters. Therefore, its water is pure and clear. Tests show that the water is contributive to people’s health.
This attraction is featuring the springs. Along the foot of the hill, there is a streamlet meandering. It is a pleasant experience to listen the spring there. Walking along the path, you will see a tiger status at the foot of the Luxuriant Green Cliff. From the left side of the cliff is the source of the spring. This place gives you a very happiness to watch the spring. Then, you can have a seat in a tea house near the cliff to enjoy a cup of Dragon Well green tea brewed in Tiger Spring water. You will find the spring water can bring out the best in each. It is called “spring taste”.
The major attractions of this area include: the Tiger Spring Temple, the Tiger Spring, the Luxuriant Green Cliff, the Five Dynasties Sutra Pillars, Tiger Status, “Hongyi ” Monk Tomb, the Hall of Jigong Monk, the Bell Towner and the Arhat Hall etc.
A legend goes that there used to be a monk who disguised himself as a carefree monk named “Daoji”. This monk is known as a Robin Hood in China who left a lot of popular stories. Now there is a Monk Ji Gong Memorial which is specially built to commemorate him. With the continuous renovation, the Tiger Spring Temple now is a very nice garden featuring the odd rocks and the sweet osthusman trees.
灵隐寺 The Lingyin Monastery
The Lingyin Monastery, or the Monastery of Soul's Retreat, is a famous historical site of the West Lake. Here exists the Lingyin Monastery, a famous ancient temple in China, in front of which there are Feilai Peak, Cold Spring, Longhong Cave and precious rock cave arts and queer and varied natural caves and gullies.
九溪烟树 Nine Greeks Meandering Through a Misty Forest
阮墩环碧 Ruan Gong Islet Submerged in Greenery
This attraction locates on a small green islet in the West Lake. According to the historical records, the islet was built from lake bottom silt in 1880 under Zhejiang Provincial Governor Ruanyuan during the Qing Dynasty. Therefore, the islet was named as “Ruan Gong Islet” to commemorate him. It is one of the three famous islands in the West Lake. It stood for more than a hundred years as a wildlife refuge since the soil was too soft to support the buildings. In 1982, in order to create a new tourist attraction, this islet was topped with over 1000 tons of earth to provide a foundation for around 240 square meters construction project. Some bamboo halls, pavilions and a paved road were built on the islets. After that, a fishing terrace was opened to the public. This islet features the complex of all-bamboo buildings surrounded with varieties of trees and flowers. Therefore, this spot was named as “Ruan Gong Islet Submerged in Greenery” .
The whole islet is covered with green woods, just like a piece of jadeite in a jasper plate. It appears unique yet natural with all the green willows, bamboos, camphor trees, osmanthus trees and roses. Walking along the islet, you will immediately find yourself in a place like Shangri-la. Getting ashore from a rowing boat and looking back, you can find the islet just like a fairy islet with its distinct reflection in the clear water.
Currently, the Ruan Gong Islet is set up as a venue of a gala night featuring an ancient Chinese style. The program is renewed every year. In the recent years, a performance called “Qianlong’s (an emperor in the Qing Dynasty) Tour to the south of the Changjiang River” is put on.
龙井问茶 Inquiring About Tea at Dragon Well
Dragon Well Tea is well known worldwide, the water of dragon well is sweet and nice. The green tea of here enjoys very high reputation since Ming Dynasty. Dragon Well is formally called the Dragon pool. In ancient time, local people believed that this well connected with the sea and a dragon lived inside. Dragon Well is one of the five famous West Lake springs. Dragon Well spring water gushes out from a rockfact to collect in the well and flow on through cracks in the rocks. To have a seat and enjoy a cup of Dragon Well tea beside the Dragon Well, what a wonderful experience it is.
Dragon Well is a circular pond 2 meters in diameter, the spring water drains down to a brook along the Yingma bridge, Huangni Hill and finally winds it way into West Lake through Mao Jia Bu. What is more interesting to see is a “dividing line” on the surface of the well water when it is stirred, a line that, like a hair spring and disappears slowly.
Dragon Well tea is well- known for its four special features: green color, fragrant aroma, sweet taste and smooth even appearance. West Lake green tea has four varieties named Lion, Dragon, Cloud and Tiger. Among them, Lion and Dragon Well Tea is the best.
During his visit to Fair South, the Qing emperor Qianlong designated “Eight Scenes of Dragon Well” with his inscription for each scene. The best well known one is Pavilion of Going beyond the Brook, which is constructed on Tiger Brook Bridge.
玉皇飞云 Clouds Scurrying over Jade Emperor Hill
Jade Emperor Hill stands between the West Lake and Qiantang River with an elevation of 239 meters. In Tang Dynasty, it was called as “Jade Pillar Hill” and changed to “Yuewang Hill” in Five Dynasties. The present name was given in Ming Dynasty when a Taoist temple called Lucky Star was built on the hill and a shrine of Jade Emperor put in it. It was known as one of the three Taoist temples at West Lake in the late Qing Dynasty. Standing on the top of the hill, you can enjoy a very nice view of the hill-bordering West Lake and the sail studded Qiantang River. Currently, a pavilion called “Ascend-the-Cloud ” was built on the top. Climbing up the pavilion, you will see the clouds scurrying past your feet. Therefore this scene is called as “Clouds Scurrying over Jade Emperor Hill”.
The top of the hill can be reached by a more-than-4-kilometers long road which winds its way 2.5 times around the hill, or by a 2600-steps footpath. The major attractions on the hill include Purple Source Cave, Eight Trigrams Field and Seven-Star Pavilion. Purple Source Cave, one of the “seven ancient caves of West Lake”, locates on the half-way up the hill and has another deed cave containing three different size ones. In front of the cave, there is a nice garden with rockery. Looking down from the garden, you can see the Eight Trigrams Field. This field situates at the southern foot of Jade Emperor Hill and it is said to have been tended by a emperor himself during the Southern Song Dynasty. Above the Purple Source Cave, there is Seven -Star Pavilion. Originally, seven iron vats which were arranged in the form of the Big Dipper stood beside the pavilion. It was believed this kind of arrangement can control the Fire Dragon or fires in Hangzhou.
吴山天风 Heavenly Wind over Wu Hill
On the top of Wu Hill, there is a pavilion where you can have a view of both Qiantang River and West Lake as the hill locates between Qiantang River and West Lake. Walking out of the pavilion, you can see an inscription lauding a huge rock as “No. One Peak of Wu Hill” by Zhu Xi, an famous educationist of the Southern Song Dynasty. Recently, Panoramic View Pavilion and Tea Aroma Tower were built on the Wu Hill. Furthermore ginkgo, Chinese sweet gum, pine tree and evergreen camphor were planted all over the hill to accompany the “Song Camphor”. All these create a more attractive appearance of Wu Hill because the new scene blends perfectly with the old.
宝石流霞 Precious Stone Hill
The scenic spot, Precious Stone Hill Floating in Rosy Clouds, is situated on the Precious Hill. Originally, it was called as Shimu Hill, or Baoshu Hill. The hill consists of rhyolite and tuff rocks which shine dazzlingly bright in the sun like real jaspers. Odd stones assemble on the hill, like Yiyuan Stone, Tunxia Stone, Fengxiang Stone, Luoxin Stone etc. Therefore, it is named as Precious Stone Hill. Especially, the Baoshu Pagoda and many purple rocks on the hill sparkle like diamond inlaid in the morning or evening sunlight. Hence, this scenic is named as “Precious Stone Hill Floating in Rosy Clouds ”.
Situated on the Precious Stone Hill, Boashu Pagoda was erected in the Northern Song Dynasty initially. Then, it was destroyed and built repeatedly. Currently, it is a solid pagoda built of bricks with 6 sides and seven floors, 45 meters high. It was rebuilt in 1993 according to the design of Ming Dynasty. As the landmark of the West Lake, it appears as a beautiful girl standing slim and graceful on the hill. A lot of attractions can be found on the hill, e.g. Baoshu Pagoda, odd stones, Sunrise Terrace etc.
Climbing up the wooded Precious Stone Hill, you can enjoy an excellent view of the West Lake and the downtown area of Hangzhou. There is a small red pavilion near the Baoshu Pagoda named “Alighting Phoenix Pavilion”. Near the pavilion, there is Chuan Zheng Cave. Passing through the steep cliffs and narrow path of the cave, you will suddenly have a broadening view.
满陇桂雨 Sweet Osmanthus Rain at Manjuelong Village
Water Music Cave situates at the edge of Manjuelong Village, it is a must place for the visitors in summer. The path in the cave is parallel to a happy, gurgling stream which meanders into a pond at the entrance. The sound of stream water is just like a natural lute playing. A short distance above it, there is Rosy Cloud Cave which have been designated for province protection. It is named from the view at sunset with the smoke rising from chimneys from Manjuelong Village just below.
云栖竹径 Bamboo Lined Path at Yunqi
This attraction locates southwest to the West Lakt, on the North Bank of Qiantang River and in Wuyun Hill Yunqi Village. “Yunqi” means clouds lingering. It is said that some auspicious color clouds came flying from the nearby Color Clouds Hill and lingered on here, hence the name. Bamboo Lined Path at Yunqi is well known for its quietness and coolness. One Chinese sweet gum tree is above the age of 1000. The famous stone paved footpath leading into the Yunqi valley is lined with hundreds of thousands of bamboo. Walking along the path, soon you will meet a pond called Mind Purifying Pond which means “a pure mind”. The water is cool and clear, the hills are quite and beautiful.
Yunxi abounds in tea known as one of top four teas in Hangzhou. The quality of the earth over Yunxi and Meijiawu is very good and is suitable for tea’s growth. Therefore, here is the major tea producing area in Hangzhou and is famed all over the world.
In Yun Xi, you can enjoy different nice scenes in different seasons. Come in Spring for its bamboo shoots growing among the bamboo forest; in summer for the cool breeze bringing the fragrance of trees; in autumn for its colorful forest over the surrounding hills; in winter for the whole valley clad in white. Three nice pavilions were constructed to grace the bamboo lined path: “Mind Purifying Pavilion” “Dragon Back Pavilion” and “Meeting- Rain Pavilion”. It will be a wonderful experience to enjoy the rain scene by sitting in the pavilion.
黄龙吐翠 Yellow Dragon Cave Dressed in Green
This attraction, one of the “New Top Ten”, locates at the northern foot of Qixia Ridge. Yellow Dragon Cave was originally called as “Protect the Nation Benevolent King Cave”, “No Gate Cave” or “Yellow Dragon Pool”. It got the name from the legend that a Southeren Song monk from Yellow Dragon Hill in Jiangxi Province came and decided to build a temple here. One day, suddenly a yellow dragon appeared and hit the ground strongly. Then, a big rock cracked in the middle like dragon mouth and a spring gushed out from it. Moreover, Yellow Dragon Cave seems to be dressed in green with green bamboo growing in the surrounding hills. Various kinds of bamboo are available around the cave, such as black bamboo, square bamboo etc. On a green huge high steep rock, there is a spring issuing from the mouth of the yellow dragon and tricking down into the pool below. A famous quotation was engraved beside the spring: “Regardless the depth, Divine is the dragon pool”. Near the pool, there two nice pavilions called Fragrant Snow and Crane’s Stopover. Now this garden also is served as a folk custom display and entertainment side. When you enter the courtyard, you will see the musicians in the ancient uniform play the Chinese traditional musical instruments.