West Lake is located in the south-west of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province .World-known for dainty landscape of lakes and mountains as well as a mass of places of historic interests, the West Lake of Hangzhou is considered A Paradise on Earth. It was included in the World Heritage List on June 24, 2011 as the only Chinese lake in that list.It was elected as the first batch of China’s key national 5A-level scenic spot opened to the public and it is one of Top 10 China Attractions.
The average water depth is 2.27 meters, of which the deepest is about 5 meters while the shallowest is less than 1 meter. The pretty of the West Lake not only lies in the lake itself but also in the surrounded bridges, pavilions and dozens of matched hills. Though the height of these hills are all not exceeding 400 meters, they are graceful on account of unique peaks, bizarre rocks and elegant springs, all together enhance the lake’s appeal to compose a gorgeous picture with the West lake in the middle, resembling all the stars bend towards the moon. With its accumulation of years of history, its unique southern charm and a large number of outstanding cultural landscape help itself to be selected into world cultural heritage list, and it is the only China’s world cultural heritage in the class of lakes. The Santanyinyue landscape printed on the back of the paper currency for CNY 1 yuan embodies a special status of the West Lake among numerous China’s scenic spots.
The West Lake is a like a shining pearl inlaid on the vast land of China, reputed for 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 has inspired painters for centuries.
Hangzhou is rich in cultural connotations. The three isles on the lake look more like legendary Fairyland Islands. All scenes are with philosophic meanings and poetic feelings, such as "Ten Scenes of the West Lake" (Ten in China is perfectionist number, indicates numerous perfects) confirmed by two emperors who had traveled from Beijing for 16 times and set their steles erected and composed their poems for each of these ten scenes. They have pinpointed the charms of West Lake in different places, different seasons and time of the year, in terms of seasonal beauty:
Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring
The causeway was built by Su Dongpo, a great scholar in the Song Dynasty, and was named after him. When spring comes, the whole causeway is blanketed by peach blossoms and weeping willows, creating an especially charming scene.
Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer
This scene wins its name for the lotus plants growing along its shores, which was known as Curved Yard. There was also a winery. The "perfume" produced by the combination of the scent of lotus flowers and wine, to which was added the scent of the cool breeze from the lake, was said to be charmingly intoxicating.
Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn
This scenic spot can be seen from the western end of Bai Causeway. The teahouse with its cement terrace bounded on three sides by water, became one of the traditional places to view West Lake, especially on Mid-Autumn night when the moon is full and bright.
Remnant Snow on the Broken Bridge in Winter
Broken Bridge, which is not really broken, is a traditional arched stone bridge. In early spring, when the snow begins to melt, it melts on one side of the bridge first, due the fact that the other side is in shade, which gives the bridge a split image.
Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon
Three miniature stone pagodas, which act like beacons, built over 800 years ago and 2 meters in height, are the centerpiece of the scenic spot called "Three Pools Mirroring the Moon". To the west of Three Pools Mirroring the Moon Island stand rounded hollow stone pagodas with five round holes like windows around the top and bottom levels. On the night of the Mid-Autumn festival, when the moon shines full and bright in the sky, a candle is lit inside each of the pagodas. The light from the holes and the moon cast their reflections on the water, hence the name.
Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill
As the name suggests, the site is to be enjoyed at dusk. At this hour the huge bell of Jingxi Temple peals, its clear, forceful sound reverberating across the lake, as if amplified in the still evening air, calling for humility and reminding Buddhists of their age-old religious heritage – and indeed, reminding anyone who experiences this beautiful setting of his or her ultimate smallness within the larger scope of things.
Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds
At this scene, visitors are advised to lift their gaze from the lake’s surface and behold the view on the other side of the lake, where one is rewarded by the sight of two mountain peaks, separated by the short distance of about five kilometers, at the northern rim of the lake. On certain days with low-lying clouds, it is as if these twin peaks pierce through the clouds.
Orioles Singing in the Willows
Featuring weeping willow trees, the site used to an imperial garden in the Southern Song Dynasty. The orioles often visit the willows and sing beautiful songs here.
Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond
This spot is located at the southern end of Su Causeway. A clean stream flows from Huajia Hill to join West Lake here. It is now a beautiful park featuring a peony garden which blooms in April and a goldfish pond which is the famous site for viewing fish.
Leifeng Pagoda in the Sunset
Leifeng Pagoda is famous because of the romantic Chinese fairy tale “Legend of the White Snake”. The story tells of a young scholar who falls in love with a beautiful woman, without knowing that she is a white snake who has taken on human form. A monk intervenes in order to save the scholar’s soul and casts the white snake into a deep well at the Lei Feng Pagoda. Visitors can enjoy a stunning view when the glow of sunset falls on the pagoda as well as the vast lake.