West Lake: Experience the Heaven of Earth

An old Chinese saying declares, "In heaven there's paradise, on earth there are Hangzhou and Suzhou." Centuries later, Marco Polo called Hangzhou the most enchanting city in the world. The reason why Hangzhou enjoys the great honor lies in the fact that it has West Lake.

"Ripping water shimmering on sunny day,
Misty mountains shrouded the rain;
Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi;
West Lake is always alluring."

These are the words composed by the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1127) when he compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, the most beautiful woman in ancient China. These poetic sentiments leave one in no doubt of the glory of the scenery that inspired them.

Originally a shallow sea inlet, due to the laying down of silt, this six square kilometers of water became the famous West Lake. Held in the embrace of hilly peaks on three sides, this water wonderland has been an attraction for centuries and it is small wonder that it was a favorite imperial retreat. The lake and its environs have all the elements of a traditional Chinese garden but on a grand scale.

However, it was not accidental for the West Lake to become a scenic lake with superb tourist value. First, this is because of the fact that the lake is prodigally endowed with a picturesque landscape. Skirted on three sides by verdant mountains, and opening on the fourth side to a flatland, the lake has all the makings of a superb landscape. The green mountains on three sides serve to gather all the auspicious portents from heaven, while the flatland offers ample space for ventilation. The entire layout of the lake is both closely knit yet leave much leeway for further landscaping. The mountains are not high yet are full of depth, the water surface is not really vast yet it changes in a most rhythmic way. The place is made all the more graceful by curves that form the contours of the place, and verdant greeness that provides the basic color tune.

The West Lake also has a lot to thank the sagacious people of bygone days for, who made resourceful decisions in developing the lake, piling up the mud dug from the lake to construct dykes and isles and beautify them with pagodas, bridges, pavilions and terraces and trees, flowers and plants. These man-made scenes and sights are set in such harmony with the environment that the West Lake becomes richer in both tourist resources and cultural connotations. 

Source: http://www.topren.net/