The 'holy mountain' in Suzhou set to attract more tourists

(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2007-03-12 08:34

Even though there are many tourist attractions in the ancient city of Suzhou, including a number of beautiful gardens mentioned in UNESCO's heritage list, Qionglong Mountain has been drawing increasing number of tourists from home and abroad. The mountain site began to draw special attention from outside world since 2003, when researchers generally agreed at the Fifth International Symposium of Sun Tzu's Art of War that it was most likely the very place where Sun Tzu had written his original text of The Art of War.

Indeed, one may well agree that the "martial sage" did choose the right place to live and work on his book, if one just goes up the hills and down the valleys here. Even though the main peak is just 341.7 meters above the sea level, it commands a grand and spectacular view of the surrounding landscape of the great lake of Taihu, the third largest freshwater lake in China. The mountainous area with its mild and humid climate has a huge lush green forest of bamboos, pines and numerous other plants that offers bewitching beauty of "the fairy land" . Because of its natural environment, the mountain attracted not only Sun Tzu, but also many other great figures in history, including Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Thus the place has quite a few historic sites, temples, platforms, besides some remarkable scenic spots. However, the most important for the military is Maopeng Valley, where Sun Wu Garden was built in 1998 in honor of Sun Tzu (also called Sun Wu). And since 2003, when this particular spot was listed as an off-campus teaching base of the PLA University of National Defense, teams of military officials from over 100 countries poured in to pay their homage to Sun Tzu. About 500 plus persons, including several marshals and generals visited the place.

Qionglong Mountain, however, is not just a place of great interest to the military world. It is now attracting attention from people, particularly the industrial and business world. For instance, just on one day alone in May 2006, Sun Wu Garden received 70 Japanese businessmen, who believed that Sun's Art of War also had wide application in developing their enterprises.

In view of the importance of Sun Wu Garden in the Maopeng Valley of Qionglong Mountain, the local government of Suzhou Wuzhong District has made great efforts to restore some significant sites and reconstruct the basic facilities for tourists in recent years. There are now among other things of interest, the main memorial hall exhibiting in different writing styles of The Art of War, the sacred book, a bronze sculpture of Sun Tzu in the posture of writing and thinking of the contents of it, a restored thatched hut showing the simple living conditions of the great man. And there is also a well-furnished hotel with modern facilities for the visitors who would like to stay here on the mountain for the night.

Most remarkably, an agreement was signed between the local government and China Research Society of Sun Tzu's Art of War, to build the Academy of Sun Tzu's Art of War at the foot of the sacred mountain. This will be used to promote the cultural heritage of Sun through international lectures and conferences. Besides, a new movie town is also planned in this mountain.

No wonder that "the holy mountain" will attract more visitors from all over the world.

The author is a professor at Foreign Language School, Suzhou University.

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