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WHAT TO SEE IN ZHENJIANG


  With some 300 factories employing well over a third of its population of 390,000, Zhenjiang is now indisputably industrial. Yet it sti1l enjoys the appellation 'City of Forests and Hills', which was coined by the celebrated landscape painter Mi Fu (1051--1107) because it is flanked on three sides by tree-clad mountains.

  The busiest area of the city is within the confines of Zhengdong Lu, Jiefang Lu and Renmin Lu. The old city is further west, near Boxian Park. The foreign concession was there, its British consulate is now the Zhenjiang Museum. On Boxian Lu an old American church still Retains the stone plaque set into a wall which reads, though not clearly:
First Baptist Church
Organized
... D 1885
Rebuilt 1921

XIAO MATOU JIE (SMALL JETTY STREET)
  Take this charming little cobbled street through the oldest part of town. The rows of Qing-drpasty (1644--1911) buildings are intersected by stone arches at regular intervals. One of these is the Zhaoguan Stupa--five metres (16 feet) high rising behind a stone archway which dates from the Yuan dynasty (1279--1368). The names engraved on either side commemorate those who were officials of the prefecture when the stupa was restored in 1583.

  The cobbled pathway was once lined with shops selling incense to devotees at Jin Slian Temple. West of the stupa is the Western Ferry Crossing (Xi Jindu Jie). Its stone steps once led straight down to the riverside, where there was a ferry service to Jin Shan and the other side of the Yangtze. Marco Polo is said to have come ashore at this very spot.

JIN SHAN (GOLDEN HILL)
  The 44-metre (144-foot) Golden Hill, with its famous temple, was an island in the centre of the Yangtze RiverYangtze until it merged with the river bank in the middle of the last century. Visitors used to take a ferry from the Western Feny Crossing, and then rode mules to the top. Jin Shan Temple was first built over 1,500 years ago. In its heyday,the temple was looked after by 3,000 Buddhist monks.

  Visitors may be shown the most interesting of the several sights and relics on Jin Shan. Jin Shan Pagoda was first built 1,400 years ago and rebuilt many times:in the Song dynasty as two pagodas, in the Ming as a single tower and three times in the Qing period. Fa Hai or Pei Gong Cave is identified by a statue of the monk Fa Hai,son of a Tang-drpasty prime minister. Fa Hai lived here when he came to the temple,having first studied at Lushan. It is said that when the monk discovered a pot of gold,he gave it to the local officials. The emperor ordered that the gold be returned to Fai Hai, to rebuild the temple, thereafter named Golden Hill Temple.

   The extraordinary folk tale of the White Snake is connected to Fa Hai. The story tells of a Yangtze River1,000-year old white snake, Bai Suzhen, who, longing for a life among mortals, changed herself into a beautiful maiden. She married a young herbalist, Xu Xian, whom she first met on the famous Broken Bridge on the West Lake in Hangzhou. The happy couple set up business dispensing medicines, but Suzhen's magical cures aroused the anger of the powerful Buddhist monk, Fa Hai. His machinations put the couple through many trials and tribulations, including imprisonment of Xu Xian, before he was eventually defeated. At one point Xu Xian escaped through the Bai Long Dong (White Dragon Cave) on Jin Shan, for though narrow it is said to lead to Hangzhou, Where the herbalist and Suzhen were reunited.

  In the temple, a bronze drum, presented in the Qing dynasty (164~l911), is one of the treasures of the Four Precious Rooms (Sibao Shi). It is believed to have belonged to Zhuge Liang (181--234) and to have doubled as a cooking pot when not being beaten in war. Another is Su Dongpo’s official mandarin belt of 20 jade pieces.Su apparently had to forfeit his belt when he lost a debate on Buddhism with his friend, the monk Fo Yin.

  The scroll-adorned Fo Dian (Buddha Hall), with its 18 Iuohan (disciples of Buddha) statues, is where the monks hold their services. West of Jin Shan, along the road that runs beside an artificial lake, is Zhongling Spring, the 'Foremost Spring under Heaven'. It was graded by the Tang scholar, Lu Yu, whose Book of Teas listed and classified seven springs in China according to the water's compatibility with tea. Zhongling's water was judged the sweetest for brewing tea. The bubbling spring trickles into a small pool enclosed by bamboo groves, but today its water is anything but sweet.

BEIGU SHAN
  Rising from the Yangtze the steep cliff face of the 53-metre (174--foot) high Beigu Shan was a natural fortification and was chosen by the King of Wu, Sun Quan, as the site of his capital, Tiewangcheng, in the third century. The Martyr's Monument now stands Where the great Wu general, Zhou Yu, made his headquarters. The novel Roomette 0l the Three Kingdoms contains many stories concerning Beigu Shan.

  The exquisite Iron Pagoda dates from the Song dynasty (960--1279) and has an extraordinary history of survival. Erected in the 11th century on the site of an earlier pagoda, it had nine tiers. In the Ming dynasty (1368--1644), a tidal wave estroyed seven tiers, which were later replaced. In the Qing (l644--1911), the upper tiers were again destroyed, this time by lightning. Several Yangtze RiverMing tiers were discovered nearby during restoration in 1961 and replaced in position above the only two remaining original Tang tiers. Over 2,000 Tang (618--907) relics were also found at that time. The Ganlu (Sweet Dew) Temple buildings now house painting exhibits.

  The Hen Stone was carved into the shape of a Tam at the end of the last century let is believed that the King of Wu sat on this stone when planning his strategy for the great Battle of the Red Cliff The pretty Duojing Lou (Tower of Many Views) is said to have been the dressing room of Liu Bei's wife, the sister of Sun Quan. Song-dynasty literati frequently held banquets in it.

  Liu Bei's wife is said to have committed suicide from the Jijiang Ting (Sacrificing to the River Pavilion). She threw herself into the river upon hearing of the death of her husband at Baidi Cheng , after his defeat by her brother, the treacherous Sun Quan.

  The two Shijian Shi (Sword Testing Stones), each split neatly in two, were reputedly cloven by the swords of Liu Bei and Sun Quan, who were at that time outwardly in alliance over regaining the city of Jiangling (present--day Jingzhou)but each secretly plotting to betray the other.

  The three characters liu ma jian-"Hold back the horse from the cliff"- on the face below the hill, are associated with a story that also involves Liu and Sun. At a banquet together, Liu, who being from the northwest was an expert cavalryman but was less adept at naval warfare, said to Sun, 'Now I know why southerners can row boats so well, and northerners manage their horses.' Sun took offence at what he considered a backhanded compliment, and challenged Liu to a race. ln a drunken state they leapt on to their horses. As they reached the cliff edge Liu reined in his horse, but Sun could not and was saved from death only at the last moment by Liu.

ZhengJiang

• What to See in ZhengJiang (1)

What to See in ZhengJiang (2)

The Grand Canal