Erhai Lake is the largest highland lake next to Dianchi and one of the seven
biggest fresh water lakes in China. It means, "sea shaped like an ear", in
Chinese. Implying that the lake is ear shaped and as large as a sea, hence it
was so named. The lake covers an area of 250 square kilometers and is located
about two kilometers east of Dali. It is like a crescent lying between Cangshan
and Dali city as seen from Cangshan Mount.
The surrounding islands, temples and villages are worth visiting too. Golden
Shuttle Island (Jinsuo Dao), and the nearby fishing community of Bai Minority do
really deserve a visit with its attractive Bai culture and lifestyle, and
because of the rare beauty of the lake and its surrounding scenery. The most
unforgettable Xiaoputuo Dao, originally devoted to Bodhisattva Kwan-yin,
can be traced back to the 15th century. Though tiny and called xiao (which means
small in Chinese), one can still experience and see the typical ancient Chinese
Buddhist temple's unique architectural styles of its buildings' pointed eaves
and decorations on this peninsular.
Cangshan Mountain, two km west of Dali, form the backdrop for
Dali City. Together with Erhai Lake, the imposing mountain range makes Dali a
true vacation getaway. The stunningly beautiful mountainboasts high snow capped
peaks, shifting clouds, and babbling streams. With an average height of 4000 m,
it has a cluster of 19 soaring peaks. The highest peak, Malong, spires 4,122 m
high. On Shengying peak, there is a huge chess board covering 460 square metres!
Streams trickle down between every two peaks. With thick forest and vegetation,
the mountain also boasts a botanical garden and a zoo.