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07-04-2014 | 14:42:08
Hangzhou: Heaven on Earth
Travel

"Above is heaven, below is Hangzhou" goes a famous Chinese saying that pretty well describes the glamorous city of Hangzhou! With its amazing scenery and fascinating cultural attractions, Hangzhou is indeed heaven on earth!


West Lake in the rain
Photo: CRIENGLISH.com

You may have heard of the famous West Lake, which is as its name indicates located on Hangzhou's western fringe. The picturesque lake deserves its fame, with ten scenic views adding natural beauty to the unique cultural value of the environment.

Now, back to our destination of this travel segment—Hangzhou. If you are surprised that West Lake bears claim to Hangzhou's heavenly prestige, you shouldn't be. Apart from the lake, Hangzhou offers much to push a visitor to cloud nine and beyond. Here are just a few of my favorite attractions in order of greatness:

My favorite place is Lingyin Temple – truly a place to behold! It is said that in 326 A.D. a monk named Hui Li came to Hangzhou finding the valley ideal for a soulful retreat with its quiet surroundings and wooded hills. He built a temple there, naming it the "Monastery of the Soul's Retreat". The Chinese word for soul is "ling" and retreat is "yin", therefore the monastery came to be known as Lingyin Temple. It consists of 9 huge


Buddha statues in Lingyin Temple
Photo: CRIENGLISH.com

buildings, 18 pavilions, and more than 72 halls with 1300 rooms for the over 3000 monks who reside there. In one of the temples you can see China's largest sitting statue of Buddha. Carved out of 24 pieces of camphor wood and gilded with 104 ounces of gold, it measures an impressive 19.6 meters high. The heavenly scent of burning incense is said to clear a clouded mind and can surely make one feel calm and at ease.

Another fantastic site is Tiger Spring. The serene, cool atmosphere makes one feel like a monk in meditation. The spring gets its name from a legend about a prominent monk who saw two tigers clawing the ground causing a spring to bubble up! Visitors should definitely have their pictures taken next to statues of the monk and the two huge tigers.


A painted ceiling in the Pagoda of Six Harmonies
Photo: CRIENGLISH.com

The Pagoda of Six Harmonies is one of the most prominent wood-and-brick structures of ancient China. The name of the pagoda relates to the six codes of Buddhism. This 200 foot tall masterpiece is sure to sweep you off your feet!

 

A place called The Peak from Afar boasts the largest and best-known collection of stone carvings in southeast China dating from the Five Dynasties to the Yuan Dynasty. The peak is distinguished in China for its "THREE MOSTS": the most Yuan stone carvings, the most Arhat carvings, and the most Lamaist figures. Hiking along the path visitors are delighted by endless carvings, one after the other. Weathered with age, some have missing limbs while others seem like they're slowly fading away.

The Bamboo-lined path at Yunqi offers another splendid walk. The word YUNQI means lingering clouds. It is said that long ago some auspicious clouds lingered there, giving it its lovely name. Visitors are enchanted by an endless sea of bamboo. I can see how one can definitely drown in the serenity of its greenness!

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