Hangzhou: The City by the West Lake

Jonathan Molina is a student at Texas A & M University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is studying abroad with ISA in Shanghai, China.

If you take a two-hour drive due southwest of Shanghai, you will arrive at the beautiful lake city of Hangzhou. The city is known for the many historical temples, bridges, gardens, and statues influenced by Buddhist religion. Some temples were built during the 9th century, making it one of the most ancient cities in China. These temples show the importance and relevance of the Buddhist religion this city values. Hangzhou is rich of history and beautiful landmarks, here are just a few I visited while I explored this vast area.

Fei Lai Peak

Fei Lai Peak is a mountainous area that has many Buddhist deities carved at the base of it. It is also near the Ling Yin temple. The Peak has steps that lead to the top, and these steps are said to be a representation of the stairway to heaven. The area is heavily forested due to the ideals of natural preservation in the Buddhist religion- something that is highly valued in Shanghai as well. The beautiful carvings and natural scenery combined give the peak a very harmonious setting, the natural scenery seems almost out of this world.

Fei Lang peak has several poses of Buddha with tourists admiring the beautiful carvings.

Ling Yin Temple

Ling Yin temple contains the largest Buddha Statue in the world. The temple itself is massive but the majestic Buddha statue steals the show. Many people worship here by kneeling in front of the statue and praying for good fortune. The temple is a very holy place for the religion, it has thousands of visitors every day. The area contains several other temples full of other Buddhist deities. Often, Buddhist followers go to each temple to pray for a specific purpose since each deity brings fortune in diverse ways.

The largest Buddha statue in the world sits at the center of the Ling Yin temple.
The entrance to the Ling Yin temple on a smoggy day in Hangzhou.
A wall carving full of deities within a temple in the Ling Yin praying grounds.

Xian Shan Valley

Xian Shan Valley is famous for the white-water river rafting. It is a very good past time for visitors looking for an adventure. If you are lucky enough, you might even see locals riding with their water buffalos.

Local of Xian Shan valley riding a cart with his water Buffalo.
Getting back to the land on a banana boat after river rafting.

The Lively Qing He Fang Street

Qing He Fang street is the most historical street in Hangzhou. Because of this, it has a lot of lively entertainment every day and night.

The lively Qing He Fang road on a peaceful rainy night.

The West Lake

The West Lake is Hangzhou’s prime treasure. Downtown Hangzhou is along this lake, so if you ever get the privilege of visiting this gorgeous city, be sure to take some time and reflect while looking out at this otherworldly lake.

Dragon boat on the West Lake.

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