Taihu Lake (TANG YUANKAI)
Located in the Yangtze River Delta, Wuxi in east China's Jiangsu Province is the host city of a forum themed "Sci-tech Innovation and Urban Future"—one of the six theme forums of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. An hour's drive from Shanghai, Wuxi has been propagating the catchphrase "Visiting the Expo in Shanghai, and taking time out in Wuxi" since last year. And the Expo opening is concomitant with the best season to tour Taihu Lake, a well-known tourist attraction to the south of Wuxi.
Taihu is China's second largest freshwater lake with an area of 2,425 square km. Although it was hit by a large-scale blue-green algae outbreak in June 2007, thanks to the municipal government's efforts to reduce and control pollution by investing heavily in and applying high-end new technologies, it is gradually regaining its former beauty.
"Wuxi is a famous historical city noted for its picturesque scenery, with water area covering 32 percent and hilly area 16 percent of its total territory," said Yang Weize, Secretary of the Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and a member of the Standing Committee of the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee. "We are building a modern urban culture, integrating every mountain, every river and every historical site with the city itself. In line with the new model of economic growth and production, we will turn Wuxi from a traditional industrial and commercial city into a high-tech, tourist city."
Giant Buddha on Lingshan Mountain (TANG YUANKAI)
Eight Expo parks, five historical blocks and a round-the-city canal are being constructed, said Wang Jianjun, Director of the Wuxi Tourism Bureau. "In the past, most visitors simply went sight-seeing round the city. These new projects will help develop the tourist industry both in depth and in breadth," he said.
Scenic spots alongside Taihu Lake including Lingshan Mountain and Tortoise Head Garden, and a film and TV production base have been listed as demonstration sites for the "Expo theme experience tour."
Lingshan is situated 17 km to the south of Wuxi. According to legend, Ying Zheng (259-210 B.C.), the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.), once rode on a divine horse that left four footprints on a rock while climbing the mountain on a tour of the lake. Previously it was named Maji Mountain (meaning horse tracks in Chinese), but this was changed to its present name during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) by the monk Xuanzang (602-664), who, on his way back from a journey to India, felt that the peak looked like Gridhrakuta Mountain (Divine Vulture in English, or Lingjiu in Chinese) where Sakyamuni expounded Buddhist doctrine and scripture.
In 1997, an 88-meter-high bronze statue of the Buddha—the tallest in China so far—was erected on Lingshan Mountain. With a three-story pedestal, its total height reaches 101.5 meters. Designed by the East China Architectural Design and Research Institute that participated in the design of the famous 467.9-meter high Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, the statue can resist a force-14 typhoon and an earthquake of magnitude 8. Near the statue is the magnificent Buddhist Temple occupying a total of more than 70,000 square meters, where the second World Buddhist Forum was held last year.