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Guangfu Ancient Town


 

Guangfu (光福, the glorified blessing) ancient town, located in Wuzhong District, Suzhou, is a famous town for history and culture. It is 25 kilometers away from the west Suzhou and at the foot of Dengwei Hill (邓尉山). Nearby the Taihu Lake, it is a peninsula of Taihu Lake. The places of interest scatter all over the town like the stars in the sky. The main tourist attractions include bronze Kwan-yin Temple, Situ Temple, Shengen Temple, Shilou Nunnery, Xiangxue Hai (The Sea of Fragrant Snow) and so on, what’s more, a group of local craftsmanship represented by the core carvings have been listed as the intangible cultural heritage. Guangfu has a picturesque landscape, and its name was originated from a part of history that local governor of Liang Dynasty dispensed his residence as the temple. It was named Guangfu since then. The history of Guangfu could be dated back to 7,000 years ago in accordance with the archeological discovery.

 
The View of Guangfu Ancient Town   The Sculpture of Guangfu Ancient Town

Guangfu falls within north subtropical monsoonal climate zone with abundant rainfall, clear seasons and temperate and humid climate. The four seasons are suitable for travel, especially from April to October.

Guangfu Ancient Town being given the title of renowned town of History and Culture is the first batch of Taihu places of interest approved by the state council. During the Spring and Autumn period, Heyan, king in Southeastern Jiangsu, raised tigers in the tiger hill, thus being given the name of Tiger Brook to tiger hill. While in the Northern and Southern Dynasties, Guye Wang gave his own house to be the temple, thus, the name Guangfu continued to use till present because of the beautiful landscapes there.

Gungfu Ancient Town has a history of more than 2,500 years. It has been existed in the ancient times. Most of its famous tourist destinations are with long history and are famous resorts in the ancient time. It is said that imperial Qianlong in Qing dynasty had been there for many times for appreciating the ancient temples and trees.

Apart from the above mentioned heritage, there are countless literature works carved on stone tablets and hard plaques by past Chinese masters to be found in Guangfu Town. These give tremendous charm to this old town.

Preserving the treasured Avatamsaka Sutra and relics of Monk Wuche, the founder of temple, Guangfu Pagoda is also called as Buddhist shrine. Locate on the top of Guifengshan Mountain; it has a history of more than 1,400 years. The Pagoda is of four sides and seven steps, 38 meters high and 5.18 meters wide. It is alongside with the lake and mountain, just like a traditional Chinese painting. Climbing the Pagoda, you will see the green mountains beyond mountains, embodying the view of lake, like in the heaven. In 1999, it was restored by municipal government of Suzhou, and currently under the protection of Jiangsu province. Though destroyed several times in history, it is a great site to view the whole town. Shen Zhou, the founder of Wumen Painting School, visited here many times, and liked this pagoda very much, and left us a poem titled Ascending Guangfu Pagoda (登光福塔).

Guangfu temple was first built in 503, after experiencing its prosperity and decline, what we can see today is built in Qing dynasty. The palaces in the temple are splendid, including Daxiong Palace, Guanyin Palace, Jingang Palace and Xifang Palace. Behind the temple, there are pavilion, tower, and pond integrating with the strangely shaped stone, which make the temple attractive and wonderful.

Dengwei Mountain situated south of the town has been covered with plum trees since the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-25). It is a famous spot for appreciate plums. In late winter and early spring, plum blossoms would change the slopes into a sea of flowers, which is the famous "sea of fragrant snow" (香雪海). This is the nationwide famous tourist site named Xiang Xue Hai, one of China’s four most famous sites to appreciate the plum blossoms in wintertime. In Qing Dynasty, the governor of Jiangsu province inscribed Xiang Xue Hai, three Chinese characters, on the cliff. During six times’ south visit in Suzhou of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), Xiang Xue Hai was his must-see. Currently, a poem stele left. Nearby the stele, there is the famous plum blossom pavilion, which was built by Yao Chengzu(姚承祖), a famous craftsman in modern China. On the hillside, there is Wenmeiguan (闻梅馆, the pavilion of smelling the plum blossom), and the travelers can stay here to view the plum blossoms.



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