The West Lake came from a shallow bay in ancient times where Qiantang River ran into the sea. It was formerly named as Wulin Waters, Golden Buffalo Lake, Qiantang Lake and XiziLake. As it lies in the west of Hangzhou, it was later named the West Lake.
It covers an area of 6.38 km2, the average depth being 2.27 m and the deepest being 5 m. It has mountains on three sides and the city on the remaining side. The lakes and mountains are magnificent.
Centered in the West Lake, the West Lake Scenic Area is a national scenic area with a total area of 59km2.. There are over 60 cultural relic sites of state, provincial and municipal levels and over 100 attractions. Among them, the most classic is the Ten Scenes at the West Lake.
The snow scenes of the West Lake are really enjoyable,especially the view of “melting snow at the broken bridge”. Many people wonder why it is called as “melting snow on the broken bridge”. There are many different reasons. One of them is that it snows almost every winter in Hangzhou and when the sun comes out after snowfall, the snow on the sunny side of the bridge melts first, while the snow on the shady side still lingers. Looked at a distance or from a nearby hill, the bridge appears to be broken. Many people stopover there and view this gorgeous snow melting, especially on fine winter days after the snow. People stand on the bridge to feast their eyes on the snow scene far and near. Distant hills, clad in white, grow more enchanting. The famous Chinese folk story “The Tale of White Snake” brings the broken bridge even more romance.
Started in Southern Song, this beauty spot was located at the foot of Huajia Hill on the western bank of the West Lake initially. It used to be a private garden villa which was belonged to a palace eunuch named Lu Yunsheng. It was listed as one of the “Ten Views of the West Lake” because of its beautiful scenes. In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi rebuilt the garden, which lied between Western Hill and Su Causeway. The major expansion projects after 1952 had turned the former garden into a grand park, covering an area of 50 hectares. The big fish pond keeps a few thousands of red carps. Bending over the rails of the bridge and watching the red carps noisily scrambling for food thrown to them is a delicious experience. The bank of the pond is planted with a rich variety of trees and flowers, the reflections in the water are fantastic.
Leifeng Pagoda, on the Evening Glow Hill is situated on the southern shore of the West Lake.The 7 stories pagoda was a storied pavilion type structure, built outof bricks and woods. In the ancient time, Leifeng Pagoda and Baochu Pagoda stood far apart facing each other. Leifeng Pagoda appeared to be an old gentleman, but Baochu Pagoda appeared to be a beauty. When the sun was setting, the pagoda bathed in the evening glow andlooked radiantly beautiful. It was therefore named as “Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow”. In 2000, the old Leifeng Pagoda was rebuilt and renovated with escalators, elevators and turned to a totally new pagoda with glass windows all around, since then it is a best known place for the view of the city skyline after sunset. Standing on the top level, from the glass windows, you can overlook the West Lake; the scenery is just fabulous and forgettable.
Evening Bell Ringing at Nan Ping Hill is one of the “Ten Views of the West Lake” with the longest history. In the Northern Song Dynasty, a distinguished artist, Zhang Zeduan, did a painting entitled “Evening Bell Ringing at Nan Ping Hill”. Nan Ping Hill offers different views due to the different weather. In fine days, the green woods over the hill grow more enchanting. In rainy days, the hill partially covered with clouds and fogs creates a beautiful scene.
The history of Nan Ping Hill was dated back in 972 A.D. A famous temple, named as “Xingjiao Temple”was built on the Nan Ping Hill. After that, a few more small temples were built around it. Therefore, Nan Ping Hill was locally called as “Buddhism Kingdom Hill”. Formed of limestone, the Nan Ping Hill contains a lot of caves and cavities. The shape of the hill is just like a painted screen. Therefore, when the bell rings in the evening, its sonorous sound echoes through the caves and cavities, and reaches as far as the other shore of the West Lake,and then the Ge Hill locating there sent back a big echo over the lake. Nowadays, its Chinese name Nan Ping Wan Zhong is well known.
Situated at the west end of the Bai Causeway, it affords the broadest view of the West Lake. Furthermore, it is a nice garden with delicate pavilions, small zigzagged bridges, an odd-shaped rockery and a rich variety of plants. On the night of Middle Autumn Festival, it would be a good place along the lake side to enjoy a beautiful full moon. While sitting on the terrace to enjoy the middle autumn moon, you would be really impressed by seeing the reflections on the water, the clouds and the moon mingling with each other, the moonlight and the lake light enhancing each other’s beauty. A famous couplet is dedicated to this scene: “The vast, calm lake is bright as a mirror; the year-round moon is the brightest in the autumn.”
Twin peaks are the Northern Peak and the Southern Peak. One locates at southwest to the West Lake and the other locates at the northwest. Northern Peak is with an elevation of 256.9 meters, Southern Peak is with an elevation of 355 meters. The two peaks face each other at a distance of more than 5 kilometers. On a drizzly day in spring or autumn, visitors may find a spectacular view of the two peaks while they look up from the Hongchun Bridge. It seems as if an enchanting landscape painting was hanging before them with the peaks disappearing and appearing amidst drifting clouds. Therefore, it has become known as Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds, one of the “Ten Views of the West Lake”.
The park wasa part of the Southern Song Dynasty’s Royal Garden before. After liberation, the park covers a total area of 300 areas by renovation and enlarging. It is a wonderful leisure place with the green willow leaves and orioles warbling. In spring time, the vernal breezes stroke the willows, their branches sway gently, bending over to kiss therippling water. Walking in the garden, the orioles singing, the willows dancing, what a wonderful time it is. Now the park is combined by three gardens: Orioles Singing Garden, Friendship Garden and Collected Scenery Garden. The eastern south of the Garden is served as a traditional public entertainment site. An open stage is built there. It is a good place for Hangzhou citizens and tourists to enjoy themselves. In summerorautumn time, the garden is served as an “evening garden”. The lanterns exhibition, the traditional folk performances and cinema attract a lot of visitors every night.
The park locates on the Nianshan Road of West Lake District, now is one of the views along the southern bank of the West Lake.
The islet is one of the three islands in the West Lake; it is named as “Lesser Yingzhou” which means the “Fairy Islet”. Among the three islets in the lake, the Lesser Yingzhou is the biggest and finest one. And it is recommended as “The best scenic spot in the West Lake”.The islet covers an area of 7 hectares including the water surface and features “a lake within an island and an island within a lake”. The wonderful garden design makesthis islet very unique among the ten top views. This island was built in 1607 with dredges from the lake to create a lake within a lake initially. Afterwards, three small gourd- shaped pagodas were built in the southern lake of the islet called “three pools”. At the beginning of Qing Dynasty, a general named PengYulin, after retiring from his official post, built for himself a garden villa on the island and then zigzaggedbridges and pavilions were added. After you go ashore on the port located on the north of the islet, two buildings will meet your eyes firstly. Then, you will walk along the zigzagged bridge which is better known as the “Nine Turn Bridge”. There are total four pavilions along this bridge including the Open Net Pavilion, Tingting Pavilion, ExperorKangxi Stele Pavilion and “Heart linking to - Heart” Pavilion.
Su Causeway is as long as three kilometers. It was built of the dredges of the West Lake when Su Dongpo, Northern Song Dynasty poet, organized a large scale dredging of the lake during his term as the city’s governor. Therefore, it was named as “Su Causeway”.Walking along the causeway in spring, you will see the willows tossing among blooming peach flowers. There are six bridges along the Su Causeway offering different views. Especially after a spring rain, you may stand on the causeway and feast your eyes on the lake far and near through the willow branches.ADistant view is covered by the light foggyand grow more charming. This scene was named as “Six Bridges in Misty Willows”. With this special scene, the causeway and its bridge became a very popular attraction.
Breeze ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden which features in lotus ranked the 2nd of Top Ten Views just after Spring Dawn at Su Causeway. In Southern Song Dynasty, Quyuan Courtyard was an official vinery which located on the bank of the West Lake beside the Hongcun Bridge on the Linyin Road where many lotuses were planted. In summer breezes, the air is scented with delicate fragrance of lotus intermingled with the tasteful bouquet of wine. However, the courtyard was very much neglected and the nearby lake silted up. It became a small garden with a small pavilion, a veranda and a few lotus flowers planted in the water in front. Started from 1983, an extension project was under way to develop it to a huge park. Currently, the park includes five sections: Yue Lake, Bamboo Garden, Lotus Garden, Winding Garden and Lakeside Forest. Therefore it is very popular attractions for the tourists with General Yuefei’s Tomb, Guo’s Villa and Hangzhou Botanical Gardens.