Travel Destinations: Yangzhou, China
China is a vast country with thousands of cities, sights and attractions to visit, but when visiting Jiangsu Province, one must travel down to the city of Yangzhou. With a population of 4.46 million, this wonderful city sits near the junction between the Grand Canal and the Yangtze River. She became wealthy from the thriving salt trade, this in turn attracted merchants and artisans from far and wide who made Yangzhou their homes.
Today, Yangzhou has paved over some of their once-thriving canals and lost some of its beautiful architecture to make way for development. However, she still has much to offer the traveller and is a popular escape from the bigger cities in the province, such as Nanjing.
Many of Yangzhou’s major attractions are located to the north – this is where you will find two of the best places to see, Slender West Lake and Daming Temple. This has been a highly popular destination since the third century CE. During the 18th century, Slender West Lake Park was a favourite place of Emperor Qianlong to holiday.
The lake stretches thinly towards Daming Temple and is lined with willows and pavilions and beautiful gardens. When visiting here, one highlight is the Five Pavilion Bridge (Wuting Qiao) which was built in 1757. Underneath, a lotus pond is home to happy, fat fish and a great place to soak in all the beauty of the area.
Daming Temple stands on top of a hill and has been an important Buddhist centre for centuries. The original structure was built more than 1,000 years ago but has been rebuilt several times over the years. During the Taiping Rebellion it was destroyed completely. The version you see today was reconstructed in 1934 and the nine storey Qiling Pagoda nearby was finished in 1996.
The original temple was accredited to the monk Jian Zhen who travelled to Japan. When he died, the Japanese made a lacquer statue of him and then later sent it to Yangzhou in 1980.
The 24 Bridge (Ershisi Qiao) is also another interesting sight when visiting Slender West Lake Park. This back arches it back so far behind that it can almost form a complete circle. Emperor Qianlong’s fishing platform is nearby. It is said that divers would put fish on the emperor’s hook – this would make him feel lucky and provide the town with more funding.
Looking for more history? Take a trip to see the Tomb of Puhading. He was a Muslim teacher and scholar who died in 1275. He came to China during the Mongolian Yuan dynasty to promote the Buddhist faith. Inside the grounds there is a mosque but visitors are only permitted to enter the grounds between 6am to noon and you will need permission to visit the tomb.
East of the city is Ge Garden, an area which is home to some oddly shaped rocks, pavilions and gorgeous lotus ponds. It was constructed by the painter Shi Tao in 1883. If you are a keen gardener it is well worth the visit, despite being a little out of the way.
Yangzhou is home to a vast network of canals, an Oriental version of Venice in Italy. The city once had 24 stone bridges which spanned these canals but these have now been paved over with concrete. Despite this, however, they provide good standing points for the traveller to view the bustling canal life of this wonderful city.