West Lake 


The most significant landmark in Hangzhou, the West Lake was named simply for its location - it was formed in the west of the city. Its history dates back to ancient times, when it was a water-logged bay formed by sediment deposits from the Qiantang River. Over the years, the lake was in danger of drying up and needed to be maintained by man-made methods.


Bai Juyi and Su Dongpo, who were renowned for their outstanding literary work, were also governors of Hangzhou during two different periods of time, and they took on the mammoth task of reviving the lake. During  the Ming Dynasty, the newly appointed Hangzhou governor, Yang Mengying, also contributed to the preservation of West Lake by continuing the efforts of his predecessors.



When the lake regained its former beauty, Bai had Baidi built by linking up Duanqiao (Broken Bridge) and Pinghu Qiuyue (Autumn Moon on Calm Lake) so that people could walk across the water instead of using a boat. It was named Baidi in honor of Bai Juyi’s contributions. A translation of Chinese prose states that “When spring returns to earth, the wind gently kisses the pretty peach flowers and whispers among the green willows that grow along the banks of Baidi. “

Sudi begins at Nanping Mountain and ends at Qixia Mountain, stretching nearly 3 kilometers lined with willow trees along the banks. “Sudi Chunxiao” (Spring Morning at Sudi) ranks first among the 10 best scenic spots of West Lake. Tourists can appreciate the scenery at different angles from the six bridges on Sudi. Truly a photographers' paradise! 



In November 2002, the Hangzhou government decided to restore the area around Yanggongdi as it was turning into a wetland again. Scenic spots such as Golden Sands Bay (Jinshagang) and Deep Turtle Pool (Wuguitan) were carefully conserved, expanding  West Lake’s water surface area from 5.6 to 6.5 square kilometers. Since most of this reclaimed area is a wetland, visitors can find secluded pools and wildlife that are natural only to this environment, differing  from other parts of the lake. The scenic area of Yangyongdi is also more tranquil than Baidi and Sudi as it is a newly opened area, and fewer people up till now have ventured there.


Baochu Pagoda

Located at the top of Precious Stone Hill (bao shi shan 宝石山), Baochu Pagoda is a slender, solid stone structure of seven stories. According to local legend, the pagoda was named ‘bao chu’, meaning ‘protect Chu’ in Chinese, and was built for Qian Chu, the last king of Wuyue Kingdom (907-978 AD) where Hangzhou was its capital. Qian Chu had been summoned to Kaifeng by the Emperor of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) and had been gone for some time with no news of his eventual return. 


Today, there are easily-walked dirt paths leading up Precious Stone Hill to Baochu Pagoda which is inaccessible on the inside. Visitors can take a picture of the ancient structure or enjoy a bird’s eye view of West Lake while standing upon massive boulders. 




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