A stone lying near Hangzhou’s Fajing Temple has received thousands of visitors recently because it shares the same name as “Three Life Stone” (san sheng shi) in the latest popular TV series “Eternal Love” (also known as “Three Lives, Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms”).
In the fairyism show the Three Life Stone is celestial and records marriage fates of every human and supernatural being in the world. In one episode, the main role Bai Fengjiu, a nine-tail fox fairy who was in deep love of a deity Donghua, cut one of her tails off and turned it into a magic knife, trying to engrave names of her and her loved one onto the stone, yet failed.
Despite the romance did not end happily, fans of the teleplay found the Three Life Stone in the real world, right on the path leading to Fajing Temple in Hangzhou.
However, the real-life stone carried another legend about friendship instead of love.
An article “Biography of Monk Yuan Ze” by noted Chinese scholar Su Shi recorded its story. In the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907) monk Yuan Ze and his best friend Li Yuan once visited central China by boat, when their boat berthed the monk saw a pregnant woman, thus he started to tear, telling Li:
“I am destined to be her son, but I have been avoiding that for three years. Now since we’ve met I can no longer escape. Tonight I will go to my next life. Three days later please visit her house and I will smile to you. Thirteen years later in the Mid-Autumn Day please come to Hangzhou Tianzhu Temple’s gate, I will meet you there.”
On that night Yuan Ze passed away while the baby was born. Three days later Li did find the baby smiled to him. And 13 years later he came to the temple where there stood Three Life Stone, a shepherd boy appeared, chanting a poem. Then the boy turned away and disappeared.
The old Three Life Stone could not be found yet in the 2000s local authority stood up three rocks on the path that leads to Fajing Temple, beside there is a stele telling the story.
In fact in scenic Hangzhou there are lots of places of interests initialized with a number. Shanghai Daily makes the list.
One Thread of Heaven
One Thread of Heaven is a tourist attraction in Lingyin Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in China, and a must-visit site of Hangzhou.
The temple features many caves and within the main cave, dedicated to the Bodhisattva Guanyin, there is a crack in the ceiling that stretches to the surface. If you stand in the right position, a sliver of sunlight is visible. This is known as yixian tian (one thread of heaven).
Two Dragon Heads
It’s said there was a two-dragon-head sculpture in a hill along Qiantang River, where now Zhejiang University’s Zhijiang campus is located. The sculptures have never been found but the campus stands out among the city’s universities for its distinctive buildings, natural landscape and academic ambience.
Originally built in 1897, it is on a hill and covered with lush vegetation. Its old buildings feature white walls and ceilings, russet floors and stairs, as well as old-style lamps. In addition, a 77-year-old bell tower and Gothic chapel add to the scenery.
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon
Three Pools Mirroring the Moon is one of the West Lake’s most popular attractions. It even appears on the one-yuan note.
The pools refer to three small pear-shaped stone pagodas arranged in a triangle in the water. The pagodas, which are each 2 meters high, are empty and feature five round holes. Lamps or candles can be placed in these holes.
The most popular time to visit this scenic site is during the Mid-Autumn Festival, when the moon appears bigger and brighter than other full moons due to its proximity to the Earth.
The three pagodas were rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). To visit, tourists need to take a boat to the island in the middle of the lake.
Siyanjing (Four Wells)
Siyanjing, literally “four wells,” is an area that contains four 200-plus-year-old wells. The area today is known for its youth hostels and lush scenery, thus making it a good spot for hikers looking for delicious food as well as accommodation.
The area is also famous for its osmanthus trees that bloom in the fall. Although this is not the season to appreciate the flowers, the restaurants remain great places for an alfresco meal (weather permitting) because of the natural scenery.
Wuyun Hill (Five Clouds Hill)
Wuyun Hill boasts one of the most popular hiking trails in Hangzhou. Wuyun means “five clouds,” which derives from the legend that clouds of five colors would often appear around the hill, particularly at sunset.
After a demanding two-hour climb, hikers reach the summit of Wuyun Hill, where there is a 1,420-year-old ginkgo tree growing in front of the ruins of the Zhenji Buddhist Temple.
(Six Harmonies Pagoda)
The 60-meter-tall octagonal Liuhe Pagoda towering over the Qiantang River is one of Hangzhou’s landmarks. It was built in AD 970 to calm the 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 at night with lanterns to serve as a lighthouse and navigation point for ships and boats on the river below.
Visitors can walk up the stairs to the seventh floor of the 13-story pagoda.
In the middle of Yuhuang Mountain are seven steel vessels. These are not modern installation artworks, but were built over 1,000 years ago. Local legend says they were used to suppress a dragon that caused many fires in Hangzhou.
According to the legend, those heavy crocks were used to pinion the dragon while it was sleeping, but the dragon sneezed and blew away his captures, thus allowing him to escape.
In traditional Chinese culture a group of eight symbols — known as bagua or trigrams — are seen as representing fundamental elements of everything in the universe. Often this takes the form of an octagon divided into eight segments, each containing one trigram symbol, representing concepts such as fate.
In Hangzhou an octagonal field containing eight trigrams at Fenghuangshan Road, planted with vivid, different-colored crops and surrounded by a moat, was created in a bid to establish harmony in society.
For a good view, go to Zilai Cave at nearby Yuhuang Mountain. While near the cave, one can visit the Seven-Star Crocks.
Between Hongchun Bridge and Hejian Bridge is a section of road known as Nine-Mile Pine.
Pine trees are not the only plants that shade the road in later autumn and winter. There are also maples. The best times to visit are late autumn and early winter, when the dark-green pines and fire-red maples are at their brightest.