THE Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has announced that 16 Hangzhou villages would be provided financial support this year that will allow the local government to preserve its distinctive architecture and local way of life.
The villages have resisted the tide of changes that has swept across China. To protect the old structures, some local governments have relocated residents to new houses.
Not long ago, Dongziguan Village created a sensation on the social platforms with their three-story houses. The black-roofed and white-walled houses with courtyards, cooking benches and storage areas are considered the finest traditions of rural homes.
In addition to architectures, forests were protected, sewage was treated and new infrastructure was built, which attracted tourists and gave a boom to the local economy.
Approximately two hours’ drive from downtown Hangzhou, the villages are well worth a weekend trip.
Zhangwu Village 彰坞村
The financial support from central government is not only used to protect architectures, but also to preserve old culture. Among the 16 villages, Zhangwu in Tonglu County is known for its bamboo-made craft.
Bamboo forests cover the village and provide villagers with ample materials to make lanterns. The tradition dates back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). During Chinese New Year, the lanterns are lit up and hung on trees.
Villagers are stickler about tradition. They still adhere to the original making procedures to make Zhangwu-style lanterns. A team of 120 villagers put on traditional dragon lantern show during the annual Lantern Festival. According to folklore, the lanterns are a prayer for good luck and fortune in the new year.
In addition to lanterns, locals make full use of the bamboo to produce exquisite tea wares. These quality utensils are a huge hit with Japanese customers. Every year, it exports a large number of bamboo products to Japan, bringing in sizable income to this small hamlet.
How to get there: Take Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway. Get off at Shen’ao Exit.
Dongziguan Village 东梓关村
The village is situated near the border of Fuyang District and Tonglu County. Due to its location near the Fuchun and Qianjiang rivers, the village was considered of vital militarily importance in the past. Armies were often stationed there to control the strategic pass.
Dongziguan literally means “eastward catalpa trees at the pass” in Chinese. That was because catalpa trees sprang up around a Song Dynasty (960-1279) official’s grave near the eastern side of the river pass.
The village boasts a protected temple that dates to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Yueshi Temple on the hill was dedicated to the God of Earth. It was restored over and over again through centuries.
Chinese short story writer and poet, Yu Dafu, made the village famous. In a novel of the same name, Yu wrote about the village’s pastoral landscapes.
How to get there: Take Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway. Get off at Changkou Exit.
Huri Village 呼日村
Huri Village is located in Lin’an County and covered by the lush vegetation of Zhexi Canyon. Ten years ago, the local government gave a facelift to the village, replacing shabby housing, poor sanitation and muddy roads with villas, public toilets, a garbage collecting point and asphalt roads.
But they also retained the houses that were built in the Republic of China era (1912-1949). The white walls and the red roofs were preserved to keep the picturesque appearance that complements the natural surroundings. The natural beauty of the village has consistently attracted shutterbugs.
Natives make a living by growing hickory trees. The nuts from these trees are a popular snack in the Yangtze River Delta area. Visitors can buy the nuts here at a discount.
How to get there: Take Hangzhou-Rui’an Expressway. Get off at Longgang Exit.
Yinkeng Village 引坑村
The village is located at the intersection of the Yinkeng and Huyuan creeks. The highlight of the village is the Zhong Mansion, a large, well-preserved traditional Hangzhou-style building with up-turned eaves, painted rafters and carved windows.
It was built by the ancestors of Zhong family, who has dominated the area ever since they relocated there from Jiangsu Province in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).
The mansion has some 200 rooms covering nearly 6,000 square meters. At present, there are around 300 members of the Zhong clan still living in this enormous mansion.
Like other traditional architectures, the mansion was constructed according to feng shui precepts. The structure has hills to its north and water to the south. To protect against fire, the building has wells and a drainage system in its enclosed patios.
Mythical creatures, legendary characters, flowers and auspicious clouds were sculpted on the wooden windows and rafters. These sophisticated patterns and carving techniques epitomize the wooden engraving craftsmanship of the region.
How to get there: Take Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway. Get off at Zhongbu Exit.