CN-371671 142- aя открыткa

Country: China

Distance: 8,148 km

Travel time:  21 days

On postcard: Lion Grove Garden

The Lion Grove Garden (simplified Chinese: 狮子林园; pinyin: Shī Zǐ Lín Yuán) located at 23 Yuanlin Road Suzhou City, of Jiangsu Province of China (平江区园林路23号) is famous for the large and labyrinthine grotto of taihu rock at the garden's center. The name of the garden derives from the shape of these rocks which are said to resemble lions. It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Lion Grove Garden was built in 1342 CE during the Yuan Dynasty by a Zen Buddhist monk, Wen Tianru in memory of his teacher Abbot Zhongfeng. At that time the garden was part of Bodi Orthodox Monastery (Pinyn: Puti Zhengzong). The name of the garden refers to the lion shaped Tahihu rocks, which in turn were built as reference to lion symbolism in the Lion's Roar Sutra. The name also refers to Lion Peak of Mount Tianmu in County of Zhejiang Province, where Abbot Zhongfeng attained Nirvana. At this time the garden was 6,670 m2 and covered in rock and bamboo. After Tianru's death the garden fell into disrepair, but in 1589 another Buddhist monk, Mingxing, rebuilt the garden. The magistrate (Chinese: 知縣; Pinyin: zhixian) of Hengzhou bought the garden, and his son Huang Xi rebuilt the garden in 1771. At this time the garden name was changed to the Garden of Five Pines. Starting in 1850 the garden fell into disrepair. In 1917 Bei Runsheng purchased the garden and finished the restoration in 1926. Many buildings and rocks date from this restoration. In 1949 the Bei family donated the garden to the PRC, who opened it to the public in 1954.

The garden's design attracted the attention of notable visitors such as the painter Ni Zan in 1373 CE, who created Picture Scroll of Lion Grove painting. In 1703 CE Emperor Kangxi visited the garden and was followed in 1765 by Emperor Qianlong visited the garden and left the personally inscribed True Delight tablet as gift. He also had a copy of the garden made in the Changchun garden of the Summer Palace and Chengde Mountain Resort.

The 1.1 ha garden is divided into two main parts, a housing complex and rockery around a central pond. In addition to the 22 buildings the garden also houses: 25 tablets, 71 stelae, 5 carved wooden screens, and 13 ancient specimen trees, some dating back to the Yuan dynasty. The garden is most famous for its elaborate grotto of Taihu stone. This 1154 m2 grotto contains a maze of 9 paths winding through 21 caves across 3 levels. The pond divides the grotto into east and west sections. The formal entrance to the western section is the called the Eight Diagram Tactics located across the Jade Mirror Bridge from the Pointing at Cypress Hall. The taihu stone peaks are located atop this grotto. Most famous is the Lion Peak surrounded by four other stones, Han Hui, Xuan Yu, Tu Yue, and Ang Xiao, which collectively form the Famous Five Peaks. There is a folktale about two immortals, Iron-Crutch Li and Lü Dongbin who wandered into the maze of the Lion Grove and being unable to exit settled in a cave to play chess.


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