Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Hangzhou
Also known as the “Temple of the Souls’ Retreat,” Lingyin Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in all of China. The temple was founded in 328 by the Indian monk Hui Li and it is said that he sought out this spot for the solace that is found in this corner of the Wuling Mountains. His ashes are now buried in a stone pagoda at the temple and he also bestowed an adjacent limestone peak with the name of Feilai Feng, a term which loosely translates to “peak flown from afar.” So similar was the mountain to those found back in his native India, Hui Li is said to have concluded that the only logical explanation was that the mountain had transported itself overnight from India to the outskirts of Hangzhou.
Modern day visitors to Lingyin Temple will enjoy ambling among the picturesque grottos and examining the hundreds of intricate Buddhist carvings.
Located 30 minutes outside of Hangzhou in the rural foothills of the West Lake district the Meijiawu Tea Village is an entire township devoted to the cultivation and heritage of Xihu Longjing Tea. Also known as “Dragon Well Tea,” everything surrounding this revered type of green tea—from the pouring process to the time of harvest—is considered an art form.
Regarded as one of the finest tea varieties in the entire world, Longjing tea leaves in China are believed to be the best if they are grown in the region around Meijiawu. Visitors to the village will learn the process of creating Longjing tea, from its time spent on the plant until the time it’s poured. Watch as a master tea farmer lightly cooks tea leaves in an open wok with only his bare hands and witness an experienced tea server briskly pouring an entire pot without spilling a single drop.
Feilai Peak, or Feilai Feng – literally translated as ‘Peak Flown from Afar’ – is a unique, 200-meter tall limestone peak located next to the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.
At the site, ancient tree roots rise above the ground, their branches twisting and winding up the peak. Due to erosion, there are a large number of caves within the mountain, and some of these feature intricately carved Buddha statues that were created during the Song and Yuan dynasties.
The largest Buddha statue here is the Maitreya Buddha, with its exposed belly and beaming smile; this is one of the best-preserved statues of its kind, displaying the artistry of carving in the Song Dynasty. In Longhong Cave, there is a seated statue of Avalokitesvara, while in Shexu Cave, a beam of sunlight pours in through the rock tunnels above – a famous scene known as 'the gleam of the sky'.
Leifeng Pagoda is a five-story tower located on Sunset Hill in Hangzhou, providing panoramic views over West Lake. The original pagoda was built in 975AD during the Five Dynasties and Ten States Period on orders of King Qian Chu to celebrate the birth of his son. However, after a tumultuous history, the structure collapsed in 1924. The pagoda was eventually rebuilt and opened to the public in 2002.
The original Leifeng Pagoda was a five-story octagonal structure too. However, unlike the modern version that stands today, it was built almost entirely from brick and wood. The new pagoda is instead made from 1400 tonnes of steel with 200 tonnes of copper parts. At the entrance there are two escalators to carry visitors to the base of the pagoda, and there are a number of viewing platforms to climb up to in order to marvel at the views.
The National Tea Museum is the only tea-themed museum in China. It was opened in 1991 and is located in Westlake Village in Shuangfeng, Hangzhou. The museum is surrounded by clusters of tea farms and features various exhibition halls that depict the history and development of tea over thousands of years. The museum's Evolution Hall showcases the production process of Chinese tea, as well as a variety of imported types. As the name suggests, the Teaware Hall traces the evolution of Chinese teaware, as well as concentrating on the planting, production, and tasting of tea. The Tea Customs Hall is devoted to the impact that tea has had on the lives of various minority groups in China throughout its long history, while the Kaleidoscope Hall features hundreds of different kinds of tea, including the six classic types in China.
On the southern bank of West Lake in Hangzhou, the China National Silk Museum traces the history, development, and culture of the silk industry in China, serving as a center for culture, tourism, and education. The museum consists of various exhibition halls, including the Preface Hall, Relics Hall, Dyeing and Weaving Hall, and Modern Achievements Hall. The exhibits range from silk products from the Neolithic Age through to the Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, right up to the present day.
The Preface Hall introduces the 5000-year-long history of silk in Chinese culture and demonstrates the history of the Silk Road, by which silk was spread abroad. In other sections, there are demonstrations showing the processes involved in silk production, from silkworms to weaving, printing, and dyeing.
More Things to Do in Hangzhou
If you’ve ever wanted to create your own pills or learn how medicine made of seahorses may be good for your kidneys then this museum is the place for you. Located at the base of Hangzhou’s Wu Hill, the Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Hu Qing Yu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum) started as a pharmacy in 1874 by a local businessman and imperial court official, Hu Xueyan. Still serving as a functioning pharmacy, the entire compound has been expanded to include an exhibition hall which details the history of traditional Chinese medicine as well as a medicine preparation hall where visitors can try their hand at crafting their own. One popular method involves crushing herbs into a fine powder through the use of a steel boat grinder, operated by using your feet. Other exhibits include the revered golden shovel and silver pan: ancient instruments employed in medicine making which avoid impurities found in other types of metals.
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