Tuesday, April 5, 2022

West Lake in Hongzhou, China

West Lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is divided by several causeways and man-made islands.  Measuring 3.2 km (2 miles) by 2.8 km (1.7 miles), the average depth of the lake is 2.3 meters (7.5 feet).  I start my exploration at the Broken Bridge on the Bai Causeway.  There are several explanations for the name of the bridge ranging from a simple thought that Gu Shan Road stops here to the, more romantic, image that when the causeway is covered with snow, the snow on the bridge melts, breaking the long white chain.

 Views across West Lake from Broken Bridge

  Broken Bridge

 Walking down the Bai Causeway from Broken Bridge

Along the causeway are people fishing, boating, dancing, jogging, and walking.

Morning ballroom dancing by the Broken Bridge

Continuing down the causeway, we are all (except for the power walkers and joggers) enjoying the great views across the lake.

 Views across the lake

Along the causeway are restaurants and great spots to rest and relax.

Restaurants and resting places

Continuing down the causeway, I find galleries and the Zhejiang Provincial Museum.  But, the place that intrigues me the most and pulls me in is the remains of the Temporary Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).  Several emperors used this temporary palace when they visited Hangzhou.  Only a few buildings remain, but the few that do and the grounds are spectacular.

Remains of the Temporary Imperial Palace

Along the rest of the causeway are beautiful gardens, welcoming me to the end of this first part of West Lake, including the largest lotus theme garden in China.

 Gardens at the upper end of the Bai Causeway

The eastern end of the Su Causeway stretches 2800 meters (1.7 miles) across the top of West Lake, full of people walking, jogging, fishing, visiting the parks, relaxing, and riding the shuttles back and forth.  There are beautiful views of  West Lake and the center of Hangzhou (from where I just walked) in the distance.

Views of the lake and Hangzhou in the distance

The path leads down the center of the narrow causeway, with people relaxing, fishing, and boating on both sides.

 Path across the Su Causeway

 Serious fishing

And, for those who don't walk the full distance, there are frequent shuttles running the length off the causeway.

Shuttle service

 I continue to stop and admire the views, both north into the mountains and south toward Hangzhou.

 Views both ways

Approaching the end of the causeway, I reach a small park full of school groups visiting historic sites, the most important of which is Jiang's Villa, originally built on the lake in 1901, with traditional Chinese garden construction techniques.  The renowned scholar Ma Yifu lived here in later years and the house is now open to the public as Ma Yifu Memorial Hall.

 Gardens and school groups

 Gardens around Ma Yifu Memorial Hall

Ma YiFu (1863-1967) studied in the US and Japan, was proficient in seven languages, and dedicated himself to spreading Western thought in China by translating many works of philosophy and literature into Chinese.  This work to elevate China through academics brought him to be named a Master of Chinese Culture and a Grand Master of Confucians, Buddhism, and Philosophy.   He was also a special member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, deputy to the People's Congress of Zhejiang, and Director of the History Museum of Zhejiang.

Ma Yifu developed an academic ideology consisting of the "six arts theory" and is is said that in his life of academic study, Confucianism is the base, Buddhism is life, and poetics is temperament.

 Ma YiFu Memorial Hall

Approaching the end of the Su Causeway, I find more great views of the lake, gardens, villas, and teachers keeping their groups together.

 Views from the western end of the Su Causeway, Leifeng Pagoda

 Leading the school groups out

Map of the Su Causeway

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