The story appears on

Page B2-B3

September 26, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Travel

Discovering an emerald lake and unspoiled facets of Ningbo

ONE of China's most beautiful and serene lakes, Dongqian Lake in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, is four times as large as the West Lake in neighboring Hangzhou but blessedly less famous -- and less crowded with tourists.

Dongqian Lake "combines the verve of Taihu Lake and the charm of West Lake," a perfect hybrid of masculinity and femininity, according to Guo Muoruo (1892-1978), a renowned scholar and poet of contemporary China.

We took a long causeway that divides the lake, which is rimmed by willows and greenery -- not spoiled by hotels and development. Around the lake are lush meadows, with rugged hills in the distance.

It seems like an emerald.

We crossed several stone arches before parking in the center of the causeway, which divides the lake and offers a spectacular view.

Beyond a thick curtain of willow, we spotted ospreys or fish hawks gliding over the glistening water and diving for fish -- they are tethered on a fishing line -- then returning to a fishing boat where a fisherman takes their catch.

Nearby in the center of the lake is Xiayu (Rosy Clouds and Islands) Temple, where Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, is venerated. A huge stone statue of the deity rises from the water, seated on her lotus throne and wearing a benign smile.

The temple on the other side of the island consists of newly renovated Buddhist halls.

The main attraction, however, is a towering stone boat and a deep underground cave.

The boat is built on a three-story-high altar, reached by a marble staircase on which dragons are embossed. The boat is itself three stories high and carries a single passenger on the deck, a monk staring ahead, his hands folded in namaste. The inscription on the sale reads: "Ci Hang Pu Du" ("A Mercy Ferry for All the Living to Land of the Pure").

The cave itself is not remarkable, but the legend is touching. It is said that a filial son once escorted his blind mother, who was a pious Buddhist, to this cave for a pilgrimage to Goddess Guanyin -- instead of going to Putuo Mountain -- to keep his mother from a risky sea voyage.

Guanyin noted his devotion and appeared to the man and his mother to reward piety. Thus the cave is called Putuo Dong Tian (Guanyin's Sanctum).

There are tens of thousands of Buddhist temples around China, but it's rare to find one like Xiayu with its main entrance facing open water. Adding to the charm, dragon boats occasionally ply the waters.

We were lucky to see a dragon boat race with cheering rowers.

The scenery of Dongqian Lake is legendary, recorded 2,000 years ago.

It is said that Xi Shi, one of the four beauties of ancient China, was taken there by her husband Fan Li, the most famous plutocrat of that age, for a romantic retreat after his long service in the Yue Kingdom of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

If you want to avoid the crush of tourists in many spots over the coming golden week, a two-day excursion to Ningbo might be the ticket.

The itinerary might include the ancient Tianyi Pavilion on the first day's afternoon, the Bund and Tianyi Square in the evening and Dongqian Lake the next morning.

No rush, it's a relaxing trip. How to get there and where to stay One smart option is the Sheraton Ningbo Hotel, which provides two free daily runs of inter-city coach service between Shanghai and Ningbo for registered guests. It takes three hours.

Book one room and get two reserved coach seats. Rate for National Day holiday is 758 yuan (US$112) per night for a "superior" room, with complimentary breakfast for two, free Internet, free use of gym, pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and tennis court.

The regular round-trip coach transport between Shanghai and Ningbo is 220 yuan per person. Tips Call 6248-7709, 6248-7761, 6248-7296 in Shanghai or (0574) 8768-8688, ext 22 in Ningbo to book rooms. Remember to request a coach, as only booking a room doesn't guarantee a seat.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend