THE 24 solar terms were created in China thousands of years ago, marking the sun’s path through the year as a guide for farming and climate. The solar terms play an important role in the country’s cultural identity.
Zhejiang Province has made a list matching 24 local sights to corresponding solar terms. People can use this to head out to specific places based on the ideal solar term. Shanghai Daily is running the list of 24 over four consecutive weeks, and today we bring you the second installment.
Spring Equinox @ Huihang Ancient Road
This solar term signals when the sun passes through the equator from north to south and the day and night are about equal length.
From now, the gradually increasing daytime hours in the northern hemisphere bring light and energy to trees and plants, which makes life more vibrant. In ancient China, rituals were hosted to show respect for nature.
At this time of year, nature is in full bloom. Hiking along old flagstone roads winding around various hills might be the best way to view the landscape. Among these winding roads, the Huihang Ancient Road is considered the most enchanting route offering gorgeous spring views.
This 11-kilometer mountain road is no longer used for traffic, but it lures hikers with its scenery of lofty trees, refreshing creeks and waterfalls, quirky stones and precious herbs. Walking along this beautiful road, it’s easy to imagine yourself walking in a Chinese ink painting. Backpackers consider it one of the best hiking routes in the country.
The trail, which dates back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), starts from Maxiao Town in Lin’an County. The trail passes through the Tianmu Mountain Range and ends at Yellow Mountain.
Around Spring Equinox, roadside villages and terraced slopes are an explosion of yellow rapeseed flowers.
Grain Rain @ Yunhe County
Grain Rain, or Gu Yu, signals the arrival of vital rains for the crops. Farmers in Zhejiang Province are busy sowing the crop to make the most of the abundant rain.
Yunhe County is considered the best place to see the paddy fields as the county is covered with hills and locals have created a vast area of terraced fields over the years.
The undulating paddy fields and hills are often misted over in the morning and on rainy days. When the fields are irrigated, they reflect the clouds and become a wonderland. Such views make the area popular with shutterbugs.
In addition to its natural scenery, Yunhe County is also dotted with several ancient villages featuring traditional white-walled and black-roofed homes. The surrounding bamboo forest shuts off the villages from the outside world, which has helped them retain their original appearance.
Qingming @ Longwu
Qingming is harvest time for Longjing tea in Hangzhou. Tea picking starts in late March. The first crop of Longjing, picked several days before Qingming, is considered the most precious and the best quality. It is treasured by tea connoisseurs and priced sky-high because the leaves are more tender and the taste more mellow than tea picked at other times in the harvest.
Hangzhou is the home of Longjing tea, known around the country for its high quality and great taste. Although Longjing Village is famous and carries the name, Longwu Village also produces high-end Longjing tea.
The village covers 130 hectares and since ancient times has been known among locals as “home to loads of tea.” Most villagers earn a living from growing Longjing tea and the village has 186,666 square meters of tea trees.
Beginning of Summer @ Pan’an County
The rising temperatures brings nature ablaze with vibrant flowers.
Pan’an County in the middle of Zhejiang Province is a great place to appreciate the blooming azalea during this solar term and Gaolao Hill is one of the best spots. It is usually covered by more than 660 hectares of azaleas ranging from rosy to pink.
Pan’an is also home to ancient villages. One of the most famous is Juxi Village, which could date back to the early Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and is protected as a national relic
Grain Full @ Quzhou
It is a busy time as crops grow plump and rich. Quzhou locals rush to harvest rapeseed flowers, irrigate paddy fields and collect silkworm cocoons to produce silk.
If sightseers want to experience the authentic rural life in Quzhou, they really should go to Qingyang Village. Due to its location at the northern slope of the World Natural Heritage Jianglang Mountain, the village boasts a picturesque landscape, with steep cliffs similar to karsts, lush vegetation and clean creeks.
Grain in Ear @ Hangzhou
Midsummer begins. At this time of year, many Hangzhou residents look for leisure activities that offer respite from the high temperatures. But the scorching weather doesn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm for being outdoors, especially as the city boasts a couple of popular summer hiking courses offering cool and quiet options amidst the summer heat.
Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies is popular with hikers because wading across streams and through the valleys makes them feel temperatures two or three degrees Celsius lower than the surrounding area.
The bamboo-lined path at Yunqi offers serenity and shade on summer days. Both sides of the trail are flanked by tall bamboo trees with fresh breezes and shade from lush vegetation. Along the path, hikers can see ancient trees, as well as historic pavilions and steles.