|The big red Chinese Characters Gu Shan
(孤山, the Solitary Hill) in Zhongshan Park in
Chinese traditional artistic form of calligraphy
Gu Shan or the Solitary Hill as a name is shared by several scenic spots in different regions of China, but the most renowned attraction is The Solitary Hill located on the West Lake of Hangzhou, exactly on the northwest corner of West Lake. As the most famous area for its dense cultural sites and humanistic surroundings, the Solitary Hill is the admirable ideal destination of Chinese traditional scholars to study and live all the time. People who want to have a deep or all-sided visit or understanding to the West Lake Scenic Area, the Solitary Hill is an unavoidable place to have an elegant and humanistic enjoyment in West Lake Scenic Area. It surrounded by water possesses multiple cultural and historic sites, which contrarily decorate it too much. Due to its location between the Interior West Lake and Exterior West Lake, it was called Gu Shan(孤山, which literally means The Solitary Hill). It is also widely called Mei Yu(梅屿), or Plum Island for it teems with plum blossoms. The altitude of Solitary Hill is 38 meters and the lowest one among hills surrounding the West Lake, but it is the only natural island in the West Lake. It eastwardly connects to Bai Causeway and links westwardly to Xiling Bridge, and the whole shape of hill seems like a lying ox in water. The famous scene of Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake is located at the place that The Solitary Hill connects with Bai Causeway. It is actually a center assembling lots of ancient building complexes, which play the different roles.
The Solitary Hill is not a high one but the best place to appreciate the landscape of West Lake. It has not only the famous natural scene but a large number of cultural and historical sites. In Southern Song Dynasty, it was the location of West Taiyi Palace, the Imperial Garden of Emperor Lizong , and it turned to be West Lake Temporary Imperial Palace of Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong in Qing Dynasty. The influential Wen Lan Ge(文澜阁, literally Culture Bloom Pavilion famous as one of top ten highest ancient libraries nationwide used to be the high-level or imperial exclusive library of Qing Dynasty to preserve Si Ku Quan Shu or Complete Library in Four Branches, which used to be the largest volume of book around the world ) is built in West Lake Branch of Zhejiang Library near to Zhejiang Provincial Museum. Zhongshan Park is a large themed and classic garden based on the original site of West Lake Temporary Imperial Palace(西湖行宫) as well as the natural landform of the Solitary Hill, and the classic scene representing the image of beauty of West Lake and Hangzhou is located in, which is called Xi Hu Tian Xia Jing(西湖天下景), an exquisite traditional pavilion with a remarkable tablet and couplet inscribed by Emperors of Qing Dynasty. Moreover, the former traditional residence of Yu Yue is also located near to Xiling Society of Seal Arts, and Yu Yue was one of greatest Confucians in modern times and teachers of Wu Changshuo(1844-1927) and Zhang Taiyan(1869-1936) as well as the grand-grandfather of Yu Pingbo(1900-1990), a famous Chinese traditional study scholar and professor of Peking University. There is also a special well, named Liu Yi Quan(六一泉), built in memory of Ou Yangxiu(欧阳修, 1007－1073, whose literal name was Liu Yi Jushi), the leading scholar and official of academics and government of Northern Song Dynasty. The west point of hill top is the famous Xiling Society of Seal Arts, the center of Chinese seal arts. The west side of hill is the Tomb of Qiu Jin(秋瑾墓), who was a female and respectable revolutionist of overthrowing Qing Government(1616-1911); Near to Tomb of Qiu Jin, It is another large building named China Museum of Seal Collection and Study, which is a special themed museum exhibiting many valuable antiques and treasures of seal made in different materials and used in different times. Through the gate of Gushan Park, visitors can see the famous Pavilion of Fanghe(放鹤亭, or Crane-Releasing Pavilion which is closely connected with Lin Bu), and it is also the perfect place to appreciate plum blossom because there are a lot of plum trees planted outside of pavilion.
The beauty of The Solitary Hill was still quite famous in Tang and Song Dynasties. Innumerous poets and scholars and famous people left their praising poems and prose here. Ancient people used to say that the best place of Hangzhou is West Lake, and the best place of West Lake is the Solitary Hill. Bai Juyi, the famous poet and governor of Hangzhou in Tang Dynasty, once highly spoke of the Solitary Hill and commented it as Palace of Penglai(蓬莱宫), and Penglai in Chinese philosophy, history and culture, is the name of a fairyland or fantastic hill that the immortals live in, and it could be briefly considered as the legendary paradise in tale or myth. In short, The Solitary Hill is a combination of natural beauty and artistic charm, aside from its fascination of humanity and history.
By the way, Lou Wai Lou, literarily translated into Tower beyond Tower, a nationwide famous high-class restaurant, is located near to the Solitary Hill, is quite welcome and popular place for enjoying local delicacies of Hangzhou. It is also the best restaurant in Hangzhou used to exclusively open to the foreign leaders. If it is unsatisfiable, after dining, visitors could directly walk up to Sizhao Pavilion of Xiling Society of Seal Arts to taste some cups of tea, which is named Longjing Tea, or Dragon-well Tea and is the best green tea in Asia.
Writer: David from Seeraa International
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