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Silkworms, shadow play, gardens and Buddhist culture

JUST 90 minutes' drive from Shanghai, Tongxiang City in Zhejiang Province is famous for white chrysanthemums, silk production, knitted sweaters and folk art. Pan Zheng explores.

Tongxiang is building itself into a tourism magnet for World Expo 2010 in Shanghai and featuring the culture of Jiangnan, the region south of the Yangtze River.

The city and its famous Wuzhen watertown lie in the heart of China's "Land of Fish, Rice and Silk," its land of bounty and refined culture.

The region, just 130 kilometers west of Shanghai, is famous for silk, raising silkworms and weaving silk.

The city is also known for knit sweaters, hangbaiju, a variety of Hangzhou white chrysanthemum, and many folk arts including shadow play.

The city's history dates back to the early Warring States Period (476-221 BC).

The famous Wuzhen watertown is not the only attraction.

Ecological garden

Just two kilometers from Wuzhen, the Huazhuang Ecological Garden offers beautiful natural scenery, ecological agriculture, fishing and daily traditional cock fights and goat fights.

Tourists can harvest fruit, sample special greenhouse varieties, be a farmer for a day, ride a waterwheel boat and otherwise shrug off urban stress.

The garden covering 100 hectares includes a maze of different crops where visitors can lose themselves.

There's a vast lawn and shade trees where visitors can go for a picnic or just stroll about. There's even grass skiing - you can glide along the smooth grass and enjoy the fine weather.

White Horse Lake offers fishing. At lunch and dinner there's a barbecue banquet.

Buddhist culture

Fuyan Temple in Tongfu County was built in 503 AD during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD) and is now part of the Religious Culture Park of Fuyan Temple covering 4 hectares.

The park built in 2001 is divided into two parts: The western park takes Buddhist culture as a theme, the eastern park exhibits typical Jiangnan gardens.

During the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976), the temple was seriously damaged and then closed to the public. After reconstruction it reopened in 1990.


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