Sunday, 29 November 2020

Hangzhou explorations: The Dragon Well (China)

Hi Sign Hunters!

The Hangzhou explorations series is back with the fifth site in the instalment. Check out the previous posts on the "Dreaming of the Tiger Spring", "Treasures of Wushan", "Eight Diagram Field and its surrounding hills", and the "Jiangyangfan eco-park". Still many places to write about, though due to the rarity of available free time for us to create new posts, writings seem to be legging behind a lot nowadays. Not like the trips! So, stay tuned.

Today's post is about Hangzhou's best-known and one of China's most famous tea villages, Longjing (龙井), also known by its literally translated name "Dragon Well". Longjing village (originally named Longhong, Longqiu and Longquan) is located in the southwest of the West Lake Scenic Area (西湖景区) and sloping gently from north to south, surrounded by hills with clear streams and lush woods. With about 1000 inhabitants, it boasts a tea plantation of nearly 165 acres. Scattered among the village are such famous tourist attractions as the actual Dragon Well (from which the village originates its name), the Eighteen Imperial Tea Bushes, the Site of Song Dynasty Guangfuyuan Temple, the headstream of Jiuxi Creeks (Nine Creeks), the starting point of Shililangdang (十里琅珰) Mountain Trail, the Fenghuang Ridge, and so on. In history, famous scholars like Su Shu, Su Zhe, and Qin Guan of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the area many times, about which people today still take delight in talking. 

Dragon Well is an actual well and spring located on the eastern side of today's village. In the ancient times, the local people came here to pray for rain and it seemed to work well. They believed the water in the pool was connected with the "East Sea", where dragons lived and they, thus, named the place Longjing (Dragon Well). The well is situated next to the current location of Longjing Temple, which is currently (as of November 2020) inaccessible due to renovation. 

Longjing village located in the embrace of some beautiful, green hills. From the main ridges such as Qipan (棋盘), Langdang (琅珰岭) and Yangfeng (仰峰岭) connecting the peaks of Qipan (棋盘山), Shimen (石门山), Tianzhu (天竺山) and Shifeng (狮峰) hills, one can find some fantastic views of the village, West Lake, the Hangzhou city centre, and even River Qiantang

The wider area around the village is known as the Scenic Zone of West Lake Longjing Tea Culture (西湖龙井茶文化景区) where tea plantations cover large areas and it gives home to a number of other cultural sites such as China National Tea Museum. "The Zone" is covered by hills and beautiful forests, fresh springs and creeks are to be found everywhere. Such a pleasant environment has created perfect ecological conditions for growing tea plants with unique colour, fragrance, flavour and shape. The history of tea drinking dates back to as early as the Northern Song Dynasty, and Longjin Tea is well-known throughout the world. Emperor Qianlong took six inspection trips to south of China, and he had been to Longjing during four of the six trips. He also wrote poems and essays to praise Longjing Tea and designated 18 tea plants to be royal plants. This site is located at the northwest corner of the village. 

The village can be accessed on road via the main gate that is located on the eastern end where it connects to the Manjuelong Road. However, there is also a route southwards that connects the village to River Qiantang. This natural path is known as Jiuxi or the Nine Creeks (九溪), and it is technically a beautiful valley that is cross-cut by small rivers. The creeks have two sources: one is the Shizi Peak (狮子山), Longjing, and the other is Wengjiashan (翁家) near Yangmeiling village (杨梅岭). The waters from nine coves, namely Qingwan, Hongfa, Zhutou, Fangjia, Foshi, Yunqi, Baizhang, Tangjia and Xiaokang converge and run into the Qiantang River southwards, hence the name Nine Creeks. The nine creeks run through woods and around hills, with numerous streams flowing in, so it is called Eighteen Gullies (十八涧).

And now, have a look at some of my photos of Longjing and its surroundings.

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~ Laszlo

The official entrance signs of Longjing village (龙井)

The Dragon Well, Longjing (龙井)

Qipan Hill (棋盘山) and the view of Longjing from the Qipan Ridge (棋盘)

The Langdang (琅珰岭) and Yangfeng (仰峰岭) ridges

Longjing village (龙井)

Jiuxi (Nine) Creeks (九溪)

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© All photos were taken by Laszlo Bokor (2020). The Sign Hunters, all rights reserved.


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