Exploring Hangzhou: Dreaming of the Tiger Spring

By thesignhunters | Aug 29, 2020
Asia > China > Zhejiang > Hangzhou > Dreaming of the Tiger Spring

Hangzhou is a large city. It occupies 16,596 square km - which could even make it a relatively small-sized country (Slovenia in Europe is, for example, not much bigger with its 20,271 square km). The mega-city's core area is, luckily, much smaller and distinguishable with its 4,876 square km size, where most of the great attractions and historical sites are squeezed into. Possibly, the the most important area in the city is the West Lake area (西湖), which is also known as West Lake Cultural Landscape. Important, as this area has played a great role in forming and shaping Hangzhou; thus, it is home to many sites both natural and anthropogenic that played parts in the development and progression of the city.

The Hangzhou explorations series now continues with a trip-tip to visiting Hangzhou's famous Tiger Spring Park. Also known as Hupao (虎跑) or Hupao Park (虎跑公园), it is situated in the southeastern corner of the West Lake Scenic Area. It is located near the zoo and funfair; more precisely, the site is spread across Hupao Hill (虎跑山) at the foot of Daci Hill (大慈山). The easiest way of getting to the park is by taking Bus no. 4, which departs from near the Longxiangqiao (龙翔桥) metro stop. There are many other buses that take the route though, including 180, 194, 197, and 314. If one enters via the main gate on Hupao road, the ticket fee is 15 RMB as of August 2020, though if one walks into the park site from the direction of Guiren pavilion (贵人亭), it should be for free. The latter one involves a big hike that may take some time, but being in that natural environment is worth it.

Dreaming of the Tiger Spring

Dreaming of the Tiger Spring

Monk Xingkong, the 'dreamer'

Monk Xingkong, the 'dreamer'

There is a legend about the origin of the spring. The "Dreaming of the Tiger Spring" (sometimes referred as "galloping" or "running" Tiger Spring) tells a story that in the 14th year (819) of the Yuanhe (元和) Reign of the Tang Dynasty (Emperor Xianzong, 唐憲宗), an eminent monk named Huanzhong (寰中, Posthumous title: Xingkong 性空) lived here. But there was no water in the area, so he intended to move somewhere else. One night he had a dream when God told him about Tongzi Spring in the Southern Mountain (Mt. Hengshan, 恒山) and that he would appoint two tigers to move the spring here. On the next day, Xingkong saw two tigers digging the earth and water gushing out. As a result, he named it the "Tiger Spring". The Tiger Spring is one of the three most famous springs of the West Lake and has been regarded "the third best in China". The spring and, Hangzhou's other famous product, the Longjing tea are called "two top specialities of the West Lake".

Tiger at Dicui Cliff

Tiger at Dicui Cliff

Hupao path sculptures

Hupao path sculptures

The 'Tiger Spring'

The 'Tiger Spring'

The main 'Tiger Spring' water outlet

The main 'Tiger Spring' water outlet

The original site where tigers dug out the spring, as Monk Xingkong was told in his dream, is on the east side of Dicui Cliff/Pavilion (滴翠崖/轩). “The spring water is extremely pure, natural, precious, and inexhaustible. Sitting quietly by the spring and listening to its continuous tinkling sound similar to music playing, one feels much purified and relaxed.” Besides the ‘Tiger Spring’, in the park one can see the Bell Tower, Arhats Hall, History Display Room, Li Shutong (Master Hongyi) Memorial Museum, the Dagoba of Master Hongyi, Jigong Pagoda Court, Jigong Hall, the Sculpture of Dreaming of Tigers, Dicui Cliff, Cuiyue Hall, and the Hall of Guanyin. Out of all these, the Hall of Guanyin feels very special; therefore, it is worth telling about it a little bit more.

The main Hupao stele

The main Hupao stele

Walking within the walls of Hupao

Walking within the walls of Hupao

A framed view of Hupao

A framed view of Hupao

View of the 'Arhats' Hall

View of the 'Arhats' Hall

The sculpture of Ji Gong at the 'Jigong' memorial hall

The sculpture of Ji Gong at the 'Jigong' memorial hall

Guanyin (观音), also known as “Avalokitesvara” (regarded as the world’s sounds and cries) and “Ishvara Bodhisattva (Bodhisattva free from delusion), is generally regarded as one of the “Three Saints in the West”, together with the other two, namely Amitabha and Mahasthamaprapta. Guanyin is not only the most popular Buddha among Chinese believers but also the most familiar and affectionate figure for the general public. She is much respected and loved due to “infinite mercy” and “assistance in relieving misery and distress”. There is a saying that “each household worships Amitabha and Guanyin”. Due to her extensive believers, Guanyin exerts profound impact on various fields such as religion, art, literature etc. The Hall of Guanyin hosts porcelain statues as main objects on display. The main statue, made by porcelain artists in Jingdezhen (景德镇市), Jiangxi Province (江西省), is the largest indoor porcelain statue of Guanyin in China, as its body height is 1.9 metres and total height is 3.3 metres with its foundation. Implying 33 embodiment forms of Guanyin. There are other porcelain statues of Guanyin in various postures displayed inside, which are produced in Dehua county (德化县) in Fujian Province (福建省). These statues, the best of the best, are jointly created by 21 porcelain statue masters in Dehua.

The porcelain statue of Guanyin

The porcelain statue of Guanyin

Tiger Spring Park is the perfect site to enjoy a combination of nature and learn about local history and legends. As an added bonus, visitors can enjoy tasting this highly appreciated water.

Statue History Art Sculpture Park Culture

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Written by thesignhunters
'The Sign Hunters' is a silly but unique venture. We organise trips and travel the world to satisfy our passion for collecting photos of settlement signs. We organise sign-themed travel projects, and then we create unique and genuine content. We have our own website, we have a blog site, we have our own vlog channel, and we are available on many social media platforms where we share photos and videos about places you may have never heard of. We also have a pig, his name is Pig!

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