city guide

Outskirts - Liuhe Pagoda

Outskirts - Liuhe Pagoda

Liuhe Pagoda 六和塔

According to historical records, the Liuhe Pagoda (Six Harmonies Pagoda) was constructed by the King of Wuyue Kingdom during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907-979 AD) to calm Qiantang River's tidal bores, a rare natural phenomenon. Its name, "six harmonies," was to signify the harmony of heaven, earth and the four directions of north, south, east and west. Facing the river from Yuelun Hill, the pagoda was lit up during the night with lanterns to serve as a lighthouse and navigation point for boats on Qiantang River.

Like several other historical monuments, the Liuhe Pagoda went through much destruction and restoration over the centuries. It was completely destroyed by war in 1121 AD and the present-day octagonal pagoda was actually rebuilt during the Southern Song Dynasty with a foundation of bricks and fa?ade of wood. Subsequently, eaves were added to the structure during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The pagoda's highest floor allows a spectacular view of the Qiantang River, especially the tidal bores, and also the sight of the Qiantang River Great Bridge (Qiantang da qiao) or Qiantang River Number One Bridge (Qiantang yi qiao).

Qiantang River tidal bore 钱塘潮

Only few rivers around the world have this natural phenomenon, which has never been fully understood. Throughout history, tidal bores have also been known to cause shipping dangers and complicates the task of building bridges across such rivers.

Basically, the mouth of Qiantang River fans out to the sea like the shape of a trumpet with a long narrow body. On normal days, water flows from the river into the sea. During high tide and low tide as a result of the moon's gravity, the huge volume of water from the sea rises so fast that it forces the normal flow of current to surge backwards into the narrow body of the river, thus producing the tidal bore phenomenon. However, the reason why this phenomenon only happens at just a few places worldwide cannot be fully explained.

Tidal bores occurs monthly at Qiantang River on the 1st to 4th, 15th to 20th day of the Lunar Calendar. Tidal waves are strongest on the 18th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar. Watch out for the huge crowd, rushing to catch a sight of the tidal bore and be careful not to stand too near as the waves are sudden, fast and powerful.

Qiantang River Great Bridge 钱塘江大桥

Accessed by cars on the first level and by trains on the second, this double-decked steel bridge was the first in China to be built by a Chinese engineer named Mao Yisheng 茅以升 (1896-1989). At that time, the possibility of building such a bridge seemed impossible due to the tidal bores of the river. Construction began in 1934 and took more than two and a half years to complete.

When Shanghai fell to the invading Japanese during the Second World War, Mao had received orders from the Nanjing government to have the bridge destroyed if Hangzhou fell. That same night, he had the bridge rigged with explosives. The next day however, the Zhejiang government ordered him to open the bridge as refugees were streaming into Hangzhou and there were insufficient ships to meet the demand. Mao opened the bridge, keeping information of the bombs top-secret. During the time that the bridge was opened, more than 100,000 refugees fled across it and Qiantang River Bridge made history with its unique story of saving lives while rigged with bombs.

Finally, on 23rd December 1937, Mao received the order for the destruction of his beloved bridge just as the Japanese were closing in. It was completely wiped out by explosives and the aftermath was photographed by a Japanese soldier named Tomonaga, who decades later, visited China and gave the picture to Mao. In 1953, Mao began the reconstruction of his bridge, which till this day, remains the pride of Hangzhou and China.

Address: 16 Zhijiang Road. Bus: 4, 514, 808. Opening hours: 6am-6:30pm. Admission fee: 20 yuan to enter the area, 10 yuan to climb the pagoda. Tel: +86 571 86591364.

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