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Nanjing (Nanking) City Tour Package
Zhanyuan Garden

 

 

 

    Among the five most famous gardens of Southern China, Zhanyuan Garden is the only well preserved Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) architectural complex in Nanjing. It is the oldest (over 600 years) among all the gardens in the city. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) once came here and gave it the name of Zhanyuan. After the establishment of the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace (Taiping Tianguo in Pinyin, 1851-1868), it became the residence of the Taiping Rebellion leaders Yang Xiuqing, Xiao Youhe and Lai Hanying. With frequent wars, it lay deserted for many years until its restoration by the government in 1960.

     The garden is divided into two parts. The east part is the museum where the cultural relics of Taiping Tianguo are displayed. The Taiping Rebellion was a dynamic resistance against the government led by farmers. The farmers finally overcame the authorities and set up their own kingdom, namely the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace. The museum has collected over 1,600 cultural relics, including twenty cannons, the imperial seal and robe of the Heavenly King, and the flag and sword of the army.

     The west part is typical garden scenery consisting of exquisite pavilions, clear water pools, winding pathways and a variety of rockeries. Entering the garden, you will see a large Taihu stone (a type of limestone found in the mountains around Taihu lake) named Xianren Feng standing under crab-apple trees. This is the most precious treasure of the garden. It is said to be the stone relic of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The stone boasts five special features of being tall and straight, bright and clear, pretty and elegant, having natural stripes decorated and knotted holes linked with each other.

     Jingmiao Tang is the main structure of the garden. Encircled by water and rockeries, the hall resembles a water pavilion. To its east, there is another strange Taihu stone called 'Xuelang Shi'. It is said that the three Chinese characters on the stone were carved by Su Shi, a great poet of the Northern Song Dynasty. There are countless hollows and wave-like stripes on the surface of the stone. Under the different lights, every side of the stone takes on a different appearance.

     Standing on the south side of the hall, you can appreciate the South Rockery covered by colorful flowers and green trees. Although it is less than 33 feet high, the skillfully designed crags, waterfalls, valleys and stone caves make it look like a natural hill. The North Rockery is famous for its stone caves, such as 'Twisted Dragon', 'Lying Tiger' and 'Three Apes' which have been renowned since the Ming Dynasty. Additionally, the two rocks projecting over the water are first class examples among similar examples in any of Southern China gardens. The West Rockery, like a dragon winding its way over the horizon, boasts the pavilion 'Suihan Ting'. Around the pavilion, bamboos, pines and plums are scattered, making the pavilion both poetic and charming. These three rockeries, together with the crystal clear pools linking them with each other, form an amazing picture of this garden.

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