Around Hangzhou - A Look into Past Glory
People ranging from 24 to 55 years make up half of the sightseers, according to the latest statistics released by the Hangzhou Tourism Commission.
Out-of-town tourists mainly came from Jiangsu Province and Shanghai while foreign visitors are generally from Japan, South Korea and the United States. On average, they visited two to three scenic spots during their stay.
The statistics also show that Hangzhou was the most popular destination for a young generation of travelers who choose to take the bullet train. More than 30 percent of visitors were on a return trip to the city.
The commission also released a list that includes scenic areas that are still little known among tourists. Shanghai Daily has picked the best four destinations.
As a river port along the Qiantang River, Xixing has prospered since Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907-979).
During Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, Xixing gathered groups of noted literati along with a large number of migrants from northern China. The population influx stimulated its technological, industrial and agricultural development.
According to historical documents, the town was known for salt, tea, silk, blacksmith, lacquer, wooden sculptures and tailoring. Though its booming handicraft industry declined as time passed, the centuries-old traditional Chinese paper lantern craft is carried on here by the elderly.
Today, Qing-style features are found around the town. The 1,500-meter-long avenue, flanked by old buildings, is an insight into how prosperous the town used to be.
How to get there: Take Metro Line 1 and get off at Xixing Station
Besides its natural beauty, Daci Mountain is a spiritual place for Buddhists and followers of Confucianism. What makes it famous is the 147-meter-high standing Buddha that looks like a statue of Ksitigarbha in profile.
The ancient Ksitigarbha Temple is half embedded into the rock near the top of the cliff and half protruding into the air, which makes it look as if it’s suspended in the sky. Since the design is similar to the noted Xuankong Temple in Shanxi Province, the temple is dubbed “Jiangnan Xuankong Temple” (jiangnan refers to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River).
According to historical documents, during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), a Hangzhou local named Mo Ziyuan converted to Buddhism after having Buddha appeared in his dream. He came to Daci Mountain and spent year building this gorgeous abbey.
How to get there: Shangtang Elevated Road — Zhonghe Elevated Road — Caihong Road — Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway — Hangzhou-Xin’anjiang-Jingdezhen Expressway — 320 National Road — 330 National Road
Shen’ao Ancient Town深澳古镇
The town is based around Shen’ao Village and includes Dipu, Huanxi and Xufan villages. Their history dates back hundreds of years, started by different families that lived during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The town still looks like a remnant from the past, including antique bridges, a temple, ancestral halls and other architectural structure with carved beams and painted rafters. To some extent, they represent traditional Hui-style architectures, but some parts also symbolize classical Chinese wood carving techniques by virtue of the sophisticated sculptures on beams, rafters, eaves and furniture. Their interior wooden decoration is based on mythical creatures and auspicious patterns.
These houses were designed as quadrangle dwellings, with each courtyard linked with the next through side doors.
When the town’s ancestors settled here, they laid a foundation for a drainage system that was comprised of natural creeks, ponds, ditches, wells and canals.
The system takes full use of surface and underground water, separating drinking water and sewage while solving the problem of flooding.
How to get there: Shangtang Elevated Road — Zhonghe Elevated Road — Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway — 501 County Road
Dai Village received its name due to its inhabitants, who are mostly surnamed Dai. According to historical record, the Dais’ forefathers moved here 500 years ago, soon replacing the Gao, Dong and Tan families.
By virtue of flourishing bamboo resources and picturesque natural scenery, the village now focuses on a burgeoning tourism industry. Today, it boasts two ecological protected areas — Niushi Mountain and Yunshi.
Locals have opened family-run guesthouses and teahouses that serve authentic local food and homey accommodation.
At the moment, villagers are busy making Spring Festival cakes, which are made of glutinous rice flour. Experts believe that the tradition of making the glutinous cake could date back more than 700 years.
The handmade glutinous cakes taste mellower than the mass-produced ones found at grocery shops. Around Chinese New Year, the town is popular with tourists who want to see how the cake is made.
How to get there: Take Metro Line 2 and get off at Chaoyang Station, then take bus No. 728 and get off at Dai Village’s Renmin Road Station.
In Jiande, there is an ancient town that has experienced thousands of years of wind and rain. It has a beautiful name called Meicheng (Plum Blossom Town). Meicheng was the state town of the then Yanzhou and is now the county town of Jiande. It has a history of 1700 years.