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The West Lake scenic zone lies in Hangzhou City in northern Zhejiang Province, encompassing an west-lake2area of 6 square kilometers. West Lake is an elliptical landscape with a water surface of 5.66 square kilometers, and a circumference of 15 km. it is not a big lake in terms of its geographical area, but it has a long history and full of sensational legends.

History of West Lake

Originally a shallow sea inlet, due to the laying down of silt, the six square kilometers (1483 acres) of water eventually became today's West Lake. In middle of the Zhenyuan era (785-804), Tang Dynasty, poet Bai Juyi came to Hangzhou as governor. Already as an accomplished poet, his deeds at Hangzhou made him a great governor. He realized that the farmland nearby depended on the water of West Lake, but due to negligence of former governors, the old dyke had collapsed, the water level of West Lake dried out, and the local farmers suffered severe drought. He ordered the construction of a stronger and taller dyke, with a dam to control the flow of water, and thus solved the drought problem. The livelihood of local people of Hangzhou improved over the following years. Now that Bai Juji had more leisure time to enjoy the beauty of West Lake, he visited West Lake almost every day. He ordered the construction of a causeway connecting the Broken Bridge with the Solitary Hill, to facilitate walking on foot, instead of depending on boat. Then he planted peach trees and willows trees along the dyke, making it a beautiful landmark of West Lake. This causeway was later named Bai Di Causeway in Bai Juyi's honor.

Over two hundred years later, at the beginning of Song Dynasty's Yuanyou era (1086-1094), another great poet, Su Shi (Su Dongpo), came to Hangzhou as governor. By that time, the farmers suffered drought again, due to overgrowth of the weeds at the bottom of the lake clogging the irrigation ducts. He ordered dredging of the lake and piled up all the mud into another causeway, in the style of Bai Causeway, but much wider and nearly three times as long, he also planted willow trees along its banks. This causeway was later named after him as the Su Causeway. There are six bridges along the 2.6 km Su Causeway. "Spring Dawn on the Su Causeway" is one of the attractions at the West Lake.

Main Scenic places of Attractions

An old Chinese saying declares, "There is heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below." This is most west-lakeevident in the West Lake area-the effective, if not geographic, center of Hangzhou. The famous scenic spots of West Lake include: Su Causeway, and Bai Causeway, which have partitioned the Lake into inner, outer and back lakes, Gushan (The Solitary Hill), Xiaoyingzhou (Small Fairy Island), Huxin Ting (Mid-lake Pavilion), Ruangong Dun (A mount after a provincial governor Ruangong), etc. In combination with the surrounding hills and streams, they make up the West Lake beautiful scenery. It is, also covered in luxuriant vegetation, is dotted with myriad of halls, towers, terraces, pavilions, pagodas, grottoes and temples, which were barely visible under the dense foliage of surrounding woods. The lake is embraced by emerald hills covered with lush forests, grotesque rocks, gullies and intriguing streams. They are so colorful and picturesque!

1. First is the Spring Dawn at Su Causeway, which is a thin strip of land nearly three kilometers long, covered with peach and weeping willow trees. In spring, with the lakeside sparkling in the morning dew, birds cheerfully chirping among swaying willow branches, the scent of peach blossoms wafting through the air, you‘ll question whether you’re in the midst of paradise.

2. Then comes the Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard. This typical West Lake scene has earned its fame since the Southern Song Dynasty, when the lakeside area with an abundant growth of lotus off its shores was known as Crooked Courtyard, and was the location of a brewery. People said the smell of lotus flowers and wine blended by the cool lake breezes was intoxicating. Nowadays the brewery is gone, and the area has been turned into a big park, but plenty of lotus plants still bloom off its shores. They stand gracefully erect in the lake, as if they knew they had visitors coming to admire their beauty.

3. The next listed on the ten scenic itineraries is the Autumn Moon on Calm Lake. At the western end of Bai Causeway is located a lakeside park which houses a stone tablet bearing the etched calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty, which reads: “Autumn Moon on Calm Lake”. The lake is a special place to appreciate the moon and the effect of moonlight on the land. The moon seems especially bright over the waters. The hills look purplish bathed in the moonlight. The best time for nighttime viewing is on Mid-Autumn Day.

4. Leifeng Pagoda is another renowned scenic spot in Hangzhou. Originally built in the 10th century, Leifeng Pagoda used to stand in front of Jingxi Temple on Nanping Mountain; though failed to stand the test of time, the Pagoda collapsed in early 1900s. In 2002, Leifeng Pagoda was reconstructed; then comes back the typical Sunset Glow over Leifeng Pagoda, one of the ten charms of West Lake, as the Pagoda looks especially majestic when surrounded by the golden hues of the setting sun. With combination of a traditional aesthetic style and modern architecture techniques, Leifeng Pagoda affords a view of West Lake in its entirety.

In recent years, the people of Hangzhou have selected "Ten New Scenes of the West Lake," as well as built a few new attractions – for example a tea museum, a silk museum, etc. The ten new scenes are beautiful, and the new attractions will leave you with a greater appreciation for the area's famous commodities. But if you only have a day, it's tough to argue with the tried and true.

The West Lake is like a shining pearl inlaid on the vast land of China, with 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 is both a great tourist attraction and a high inspiration for artistic creations.

List of the ten most beautiful sites around West Lake:
1. Spring Dawn on the Su Causeway
2. Orioles Singing in the Willows
3. Viewing Fish at Flower Pond
4. Winery Yard and Lotus Pool
5. Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill
6. Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake
7. Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow
8. Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
9. Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge
10. Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds

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