Qiandao Lake: A Thousand Isles of Serenity

2023-02-13 13:52:00 Source:China Today Author:staff reporter MENG JIAXIN
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The man-made lake creates 1,000 isles of varied forms, and wandering through them, people are able to take in the breathtaking picturesque scenery from any angle.


An evening afterglow casts golden shades over the islands and water of the Qiandao Lake in Hangzhou, China, on October 20, 2022.

Qiandao Lake National Forest Park is located in Chun’an County of Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province. The tourist destination is 129 kilometers away from downtown Hangzhou. With a total area of 92,300 hectares, of which 54,400 hectares are covered by water, the park has 93 percent of its area covered by forests. It is now a national 5A tourist attraction. In addition to the serene scenery, the park features beautiful cycling routes, as well as canoe training camps and campgrounds.

The Qiandao Lake is formed after the completion of the Xin’an River hydroelectric power station, which was the first large hydroelectric power station designed, equipped, and built by China independently.

The Qiandao Lake is famous for the 1,078 isles that it encompasses, whose highest point reaches 978 meters above sea level. The average depth of the lake is 34 meters, the deepest point is 100 meters underwater, and the total capacity is 17.84 billion cubic meters of water, more than 3,000-folds of the West Lake.

The water of the Qiandao Lake is crystal clear, and is rated as the highest quality nationwide, making it one of the largest lakes with the best water quality in China. The isles of various sizes dotting the water body form a breathtaking maze scene.

The Qiandao Lake has two parts for leisure activities: the central lake area and the southeast lake area. The central lake area is made up by the Meifeng Isle, the Moonlight Isle, the Shenlong Isle, and the Longshan Isle, and the southeast lake area by the Huangshan Peak, Tianchi Isle, Mishan Isle, and Osmanthus Isle.

Countless cyclists enjoy the picturesque ride during the 16th Qiandao Lake Road Cycling Race held on November 20, 2022.

Vantage Point to Overlook Isles

Being an ideal spot to view the island scenery of the Qiandao Lake, the Meifeng Isle is one of the most popular attractions in the park. There is an observation deck on the Meifeng Isle, where tourists can enjoy the sight of more than 300 isles dotting the lake. The isles view is an iconic scene of the Qiandao Lake. Visitors can take a boat or a yacht to get to the central lake area. The Meifeng Isle is small and it takes about 15 minutes to climb to the top. A cable service carrying visitors to the observation deck is also available near the pier, and visitors can enjoy a view overlooking the surrounding isles and water.

Apart from natural scenery, the Qiandao Lake also has isles featuring historical sites. The Longshan Isle is a large isle in the central area of the Qiandao Lake. Main attractions on the isle include Hai Rui Memorial Hall and the Bell Tower.

Hai Rui was a noted upright official during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). He served as the county chief of Chun’an in Zhejiang Province. Back then, Chun’an was economically backward, but had to spend heavily in receiving and accommodating visiting officials due to its location on an artery transportation line. The high bills had to be ultimately paid by the ordinary working people.

Upon taking office as the county chief, Hai Rui started to combat corruption and enforce strict standards for hospitality. He also allocated unclaimed land and tools for production to the poor so that they could have a source of living. Some of the officials’ extravegent lifestyles were also changed thanks to Hai Rui.

After he finished his term of service in this county, a shrine and a monument were built by local people to remember Hai Rui for his dedicated service and exemplary life. The memorial hall in the isle today was built in 1985.

Stairs outside Hai Rui Memorial Hall lead to the quaint Ninggu Bell Tower, another ideal spot from which people can view the landscapes of the Qiandao Lake.

The dense forest of the Qiandao Lake is home to many animals. The Osmanthus Isle, also known as the Monkey Isle, is said to be the place where the Dragon Lady herded sheep. The Osmanthus Isle gets its name due to the abundance of Osmanthus flowers dotting its surface. The isle exhibits a typical karst landscape, adorned with strange rocks, fragrant osmanthus flowers, and winding paths. Of course, the “owners” of this isle are groups of macaque monkeys, which visitors can see close-up.

A group of tourists are learning to canoe on a lake in Chun’an County of Hangzhou on November 11, 2022.

Fish Catching Experience

The excellent water quality and unique climate make the Qiandao Lake an ideal destination for tourists to experience fish catching activities. Fishing is also part of the unique culture of the Qiandao Lake. At least seven years are needed for fish in the lake to grow from small fries to up to five kilograms of fish ready for catch. The meat of the fish, therefore, is naturally tender and fresh.

Every autumn, in the waters around the Huangshan Peak, visitors can participate in the unique “giant net fish catching” activity. The fishing team first locates the fish and sets up catching nets two or three days in advance, enclosing schools of fish with large nets across a wide zone of water. In narrow water areas, the fish catchers usually set up a net upstream, and another downstream, and trap the fish at a specific chokepoint. Fish weighing less than four kilograms will be left in the water after they escape through the openings of the nets. With this method, the fishing team can capture aprroximately 30 tons of larger fish in one catch.

When fishermen heave the huge net, silver carp or bighead carp leap up in the air, presenting a spectacular scene.

Fish in the Qiandao Lake are known for their rich nutritional value and tender meat, which benefits from the environment that they live in. On top of that, the fish are not bred, but grow freely in the large Qiandao Lake. Local Masson pines provided food for fries. There are 90,000 hectares of these pine trees in Chun’an because of the suitable temperature, sufficient sunlight, and abundant rainfall. Every April, winds scatter pine flowers and their pollen across the surface of the Qiandao Lake, bringing the best natural feed to the organic fish.

“Water for fish, fish for water” is an essential philosophy of sustainable fishing in the Qiandao Lake. The implementation of the principle plays an important role in improving the water quality of the Qiandao Lake. Silver carp, bighead carp and other fishes feed on plankton in the lake. This can be used to enhance water quality. An appropriate catch based on the conditions of the fish will help maintain the ecological balance of the lake.

A fishing operation using a giant net is carried out by a fishing team at the natural fishing ground of the Qiandao Lake on August 16, 2017.

Outdoor Recreational Activities

Densely covered with forests, the Qiandao Lake boasts 62,000 negative oxygen ions per cubic centimeter, making it an ideal place for outdoor activities. The destination is also equipped with an array of facilities for outdoor sports and leisure activities, such as cycling, canoeing, and camping.

The Chunyang Greenway and Qianfen Greenway, two cycling routes around and over the Qiandao Lake, attract hundreds of thousands of cyclists from around the country every year. With a total length of 140 kilometers, they form the longest cycling route at the county level in China. Most visitors to the lake would take the opportunity to cycle on the greenways, not only for exercise, but also for the beautiful scenery along the routes.

There are sections with cobbled roads and undulating roads for a fun experience. The whole routes are illuminated by street lights, so cyclists are also able to try out charming night rides. The greenways are outfitted with resting stations for visitors to keep hydrated, take a break, and enjoy the view of the surrounding area.

The 19th Hangzhou Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8, 2023. The cycling events will take place at the Qiandao Lake. Before the events, the Qiandao Lake offers visitors an opportunity to try the cycling routes before professional cyclists.

In addition to cycling, tourists can also go canoeing. There is dedicated water area and established training systems for canoeing at the Qiandao Lake. Tourists can enjoy a stunning view of the lake and mountains on a canoeing ride.

The Qiandao Lake is a paradise for campers. Any spot along the 200-kilometer shoreline is ideal for camping. Setting up a tent, visitors will immerse themselves into the blue skies and lucid water, and spend an unforgettable night sleeping in the gentle sound of water lapping against the shore.

Those who do not have any camping supplies can choose to stay at the camping bases for recreational vehicles around the Qiandao Lake, where full sets of outdoor supplies are available for rent. After nightfall, campers can enjoy looking up at the starry sky and let the serenity wash away the stress of the hustling and bustling city life.

Be it a boat ride through the isles, a fishing trip, or a cycling ride, the Qiandao Lake provides every visitor a satisfying experience well beyond their imagination and expectations.

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