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West Lake (Hangzhou)

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There are 36 lakes named West Lake in China, but when most Chinese mention West Lake, it usually refers to the freshwater lake in Hangzhou.

West Lake is located in the west of Hangzhou City center. It was once called “Wulin Water” and “Qiantang Lake” but was named West Lake during the Song Dynasty (960 CE – 1279 CE). It is surrounded by mountains on three sides and has an area of 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles). The circumference is around 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). The average depth of the West Lake is 1.55 meters, and the maximum depth reaches about 2.8 meters. The capacity is about 8,500,000 to 8,700,000 cubic meters.

The lake is divided by the causeways of Suti and Baiti into five areas which are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake, Little South Lake, and Yue Lake. The Outer West Lake is the largest. Gushan or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in West Lake. Three small man-made lakes, “Xiao Ying Zhou”, “Hu Xing Ting” and “Run Gong Dun”, lie in the center of the lake.

West Lake takes on a different appearance over the seasons, a phenomenon noticed as far back as the 13th Century.  These famous views are known as the “Ten Views of West Lake,” some of the most popular attractions in all of Hangzhou.

Some of the Ten Views or Scenes include:

  • Lingering Snow on the Bridge in Winter: It snows every winter in Hangzhou and when the sum comes out after snowfall, the snow on the sunny side first melt and on the shady side is still covered by snow. Looking from the shady side, the bridge appears to be broken.
  • Viewing Fish at Flower Pond: This scenic spot is the best place to view the thousands of red carp fish in the pond. On the bank of the pond are planted various kinds of trees and flowers, some of which blossom in winter.
  • Leifeng Pogada in Sunset: Leifeng Pogada is located on the Evening Glow Hill situated on the south bank of West Lake. The pagoda is bathed in the evening glow at sunset, which looks like the pagoda gives off light of its own.
  • Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill: Nanping Hill is located at the south shore of West Lake. At the foot of the hill stands the Monastery of Pure Compassion. Formed of limestone, Nanping Hill contains multiple caves and crevices. When the bell in Monastery of Pure Compassion is struck in the evening, the sonorous ringing echoes through the caves, even reaching as far as the other shore of the lake.
  • Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn: This spot is located at the west end of Bai Causeway and at the southern foot of Gu Hill. It’s often the best place along the lake side to appreciate the lake.
  • Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds: Two peaks refer to the Northern Peak and South Peak which are two offshoots of Tianmushan Mountain. They were famous Buddhist mountains in ancient times. On the top of the peak stand temples and pagodas.
  • Carved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer: This spot is situated at the west shore of the lake. During the Song Dynasty, an imperial alcohol distillery was constructed on the bank of the river. In the summer, the air is scented with delicate fragrance of lotus intermingled with the tasteful bouquet of wine.
  • Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon: Xiaoyingzhou or Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon is the largest island in West Lake. Among the three islands, Xiaoyingzhou is the finest and largest one which is recommended as the best scenic spot in the West Lake.
  • Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring: Su Causeway is three kilometers long from north to south with the width of 36 meters. The willows were planted on the each side of Su Causeway. There are six bridges along Su Causeway each offering different views. On rainy days in Spring, visitors are often treated to emerald green sallows swaying in the drizzle.

Come see what other spectacles China has to offer.  Book your guided tour of China today and get the best rates possible with Chinatour.com!