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Tianmu Lake

( ) Updated: 2015-10-15 17:17

Tianmu Lake

A three hours' drive along the Huning and Yixing Expressway is enough to bring Shanghai tourists to a fantastic lakeside site where they can recover from the stress of hectic urban life.

A 4A-grade scenic spot, the Tianmu Lake Tourist Holiday Area is located in Liyang of East China's Jiangsu Province, with the mists and ripples of Taihu Lake to the east, the precipitous Tianmu Mountain to the south, the provincial capital Nanjing to the west and fledging tourist city Changzhou to the north. It is a combination of cultural riches and ravishing natural scenery. Not only will a tour of Tianmu Lake area impress tourists with the picturesque natural beauty of its lake and mountain - there is also the tasty local fish to savour.

Cystal-clear water

Tianmu Lake has a vast extent of over 300 square kilometres. Seen from the above, the lake resembles a pair of limpid eyes. Thus, the lake has been given the name "Tianmu Lake" (lake of heavenly eyes).

Encompassing the majestic features of Taihu Lake, the natural beauty of West Lake and the intricate shape of the One-Thousand-Island Lake, Tianmu Lake is characterized by its inviting vistas, its wild animals and its three unique tastes: sweet water, fragrant tea and savoury fishhead casserole.

The lake is surrounded by mountains rising in succession around it. These mountains, swathed in green forests, provide a spectacle of quiet grandeur. The shoreline of the lake zig-zags deep into the sides of the surrounding mountains.

Those boating on the lake are immersed in a vista of crystal clear water and perhaps amused by the flocks of wild ducks flying by. Drifting upon the mirror-like lake surface on a bamboo raft offers both physical and mental enjoyment. The wavy water conjures up the illusion that innumerable small islands are floating on the green water.

Tianmu Lake is famous nationwide for its sweet water. Travellers are always amazed at the pure water of the lake, completely free from pollution.

In 1995, the municipal government took action to renovate the sewage disposal systems of the hotels around the lake in order to eliminate the pollutants that were threatening to foul the water. These steps were very successful, and the lake's water has retained its purity.

This excellent water helps make the green tea here renowned throughout China. "Nanshan Shoumei" and "Longtan Qingfeng" are just two of the area's best-known high-quality green teas.

Taking a sip of the green tea while admiring the water and tall mountains takes you back in time to the perspective of ancient Chinese people, who also sipped tea here while engrossing themselves in the magnificence of nature. Ancient structures

The charms of Tianmu Lake extends far beyond its water and tea. Tourists will also be enthralled by the historical buildings here, such as the Zhuangyuan Pavilion (Pavilion of the Number One Scholar).

The Zhuangyuan Pavilion received its name from the fact it bore the recordings of the details of 763 No. 1 scholars from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

This pavilion occupies an area of over 350 square metres, rising to a height of 22 metres. The three-storey pavilion, is built on a basically octagonal pattern, with its eight corners symbolizing flying. The pavilion has a base in the shape of the Chinese character "Ya" (second) and represents an ancient Chinese architecture style.

As the highest building in the Tianmu Lake Tourist Area, this pavilion provides a great view over the whole lake. Standing on the Zhuangyuan Pavilion, you can marvel at the enchanting views of lakes and hills.

Paradise for gourmets

After feasting your eyes on the beauty of nature, there's nothing better than to feast your taste buds on the local specialty - fish-head casserole.

This casserole fish-head soup is famed for being fresh without being too fishy-flavoured, rich without being too greasy. The original flavour of the soup is attributed to the regions large-headed carp and to the water of Tianmu Lake. Some especially large fish can have heads weighing over 10 kilograms.

Tasting this delicious fish-head soup has long been considered a treat that it not to be missed by travellers, whether from home or abroad. Early in 1982, ambassadors and their spouses from 75 countries gave the "thumbs-up" to the soup after tasting several bowls of it. When touring the Jiangsu Province in 1985, Deng Xiaoping also praised the dish.

Taigong tales

By boating across to the western side of Tianmu Lake, you can get to Taigong Mountain. Many tales have grown up around this legendary mountain.

It is said Jiang Taigong, a famous sage during the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century - 11th century BC), went fishing here with a straight hook. When asked, "How can you catch a fish with a straight hook?" His replay was, "The fish that is willing will bite."

In the middle of the mountain, a five-square-metre stone still stands, marked with the indentations which are said to have been left by Jiang's hips, shoes and fishing tackle during the long period of waiting for official recognition.

If you are interested, you can also sit lie there fishing, as Taigong did, with help from the fishing centre of the Tianmu Lake Tourist Holiday Area.

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