West Lake or Xi hu is a famous fresh water lake located in the historic area of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. It evolved from a shallow bay through which the Qiantang River flowed into the East China Sea. In the ancient times it was called Wulin Waters, Golden Buffalo Lake, Qiantang Lake and Xizi Lake.
The name of West Lake was fixed as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In the Song Dynasty(960-1279), the Chinese renowned poet Su Dongpo wrote a poem to praise the West Lake and compared it to Xizi, a Chinese legendary beauty. Since then, the West Lake has another elegant name Xizi Lake. And as it lies in the west of Hangzhou it is usually called the West Lake.
The famous West Lake is like a brilliant pearl embedded in the beautiful and fertile shores of the East China Sea near the mouth of the Hangzhou Bay.
The famous Italian traveler Marco Polo was so impressed by the beauty of Hangzhou that he described it as “the most fascinating city in the world where one feels that one is in paradise.”In China, there has been a century-old popular saying praising the city: “In Heaven there is Paradise; on Earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.”As it is beautiful all the year round, the West Lake was compared by Su Dongpo, a celebrated poet of the Song Dynasty, to a beauty “who is always charming in either light or heavy makeup.”
Ten Scenes of the West Lake
The beauty of the West Lake lies in its lingering charm that survives the change of seasons in a year and of hours in a day. Among its beautifu lsights, the most famous sites are the Ten Sights in West Lake.
A collection of ten scenic views formed during the Southern Song Dynasty, they are distributed around and within the lake, and serve to show the charms of the West Lake. Each scene is unique, and when taken together, are said to present the essence of West Lake scenery, and form the core of any West Lake tour. Visitors to the lake can plan to spend their time viewing the “Ten Scenes of the West Lake.
Spring Dawn at Su Causeway
It is a thin strip of land nearly three kilometers long covered with peach and weeping willow trees. In spring, with the lakeside and dew sparkling in the morning , birds cheerfully chirping among swaying willow branches, the scent of peach blossoms wafting through the air, you’ll question whether you’re in the midst of paradise.
Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Wine-making Yard
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.There are 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.
Autumn Moon over the Peaceful Lake
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.There are 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. 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.
Remnant Snow on the Broken Bridge
It is the most romantic scene of the ten mat-see. The stone arched broken bridge is where the character 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 shade side remaining white, it looks as if a long white belt has been ripped apart on the thus earning the name” melting snow on the broken bridge”.
Viewing Fish at flower Pond
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 birdsong. To stay with nature is a highly enjoyable experience.
Orioles singing in the willows
An imperial garden built up in the Southern Song Dynasty. Now the once-imperial garden has been turned into a park open to all. Featuring green willows and singing orioles, there are lawns, pavilions, and bridges that are very impressive, as well.
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
An imperial garden built up in the Southern Song Dynasty. Now the once-imperial garden has been turned into a park open to all. Featuring green willows and singing orioles, there are lawns, pavilions, and bridges that are very impressive, as well. Just off the southern shore of the Island of Little Oceans stand three small stone pagodas that seem to float on the water.Each about 2 meters high, when candles are placed inside on moonlit nights, the effect is of 4 moons dancing on the shimmering night waters.The scene is especially magical when the giant glowing moon on the night of Mid-Autumn Day is overhead.
Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill
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.
Twin Peaks Piercing Clouds
Gaze at the skies above West Lake, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of two limestone mountains past the northern edge of the lake, one to the northeast and one to the northwest, five kilometers apart. On a drizzling day in spring or autumn, the two peaks come and go amongst the drifting rain clouds.
Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset
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; However
，it was 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.
There are many other scenes to see. If you walk around the lake ,every where is a beautiful scens. The West Lake is like a shining pearl inlaid on the vast land of China, with beautiful scenery, a multitude of historical sites, brilliant cultural relics, and a profusion of native products. Legend has it that the West Lake was a heavenly jewel fallen to earth. Pragmatists insist that it is a mere lagoon on Hangzhou’s western fringe. In any case, West Lake is both a great tourist attraction and a high inspiration for artistic creations.