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Exploring Shanghai’s ancient gardens

Shanghai is home to five ancient gardens. The prominent ones worth visiting include Zuibaichi Park and Screen Wall. The Zubaichi Park is situated in the western part of Shanghai. It is one of the famous ancient gardens in Songjiang district nearby Zubaichi Park Station. This oldest garden in the city has been endlessly attracting scores of visitors from different parts of the world year after year. Apart from Zuibaichi Park, other four ancient gardens worth visiting here include Qushui Garden in Qingpu district, Qiuxia Garden and Guyi Garden in Jiading district, and Yuyuan Garden in Huangpu district.

Zubaichi Park

Zubaichi literally means drunken Bai pond. It was formerly a part of Songjiang jinshi’s residence. Jinshi was an advanced scholar during the Song Dynasty.  Zubaichi was named Zhu Zhichun during the rule of the Song Dynasty. Later on, painter Gu Dashen made Zubaichi his personal villa during the Qing Dynasty. He rebuilt it and transformed into a classical Chinese garden architecture. The garden was exquisitely landscaped with manmade hills and stones, while the plum and bamboo blossomed. The entire place was given a garden scene in the quintessential southern China style. The highlight of this garden was a 700-square-meter lotus pond.

Zubaichi Park is presently spread into an area of 50,000 square meters. It is located in the heart of Sonjiang district. The park has a history of over 900 years. The ancient garden architecture is still intact. The visitors are enamored by painted rafters, stone sculptures, winding ancient galleries and elegant pavilions. Luxuriant plants in myriad colors are also there, ready to captivate its visitors.

Qushui Garden

The Qushui Garden is prominent among the five major classical gardens in Shanghai today. It is located in the northeast of Qingpu District by the side of the Dayingpu River. The garden first came into existence during the Qianlong reign of the Qing Dynasty in 1745. The garden was originally attached to the Town God Temple. The garden is also called “One Penny Garden”. According to a legend, every citizen in the town had to donate one penny for the construction of this garden, hence it was named thus. The garden’s imposing architectural art is of high value, and shows unusual characteristics.

The Qushui Garden was originally called the “Lingyuan Garden”. The garden’s present name “Qushui” is derived from a line of a poem. The word literally means “Cups float along a zigzag channel”. Wang Xizhi wrote the collection of poems and composed at the Orchid Pavilion. Wang was a famous calligrapher during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). The garden has been beautifully landscaped with a Lotus Pond at the centre, hills, trees, flowers, waters and rocks. A large artificial hill is also a prominent feature at this garden. The Nine-Bend Bridge and beamless hall here are its architectural masterpieces.

Qiuxia Garden

The Qiuxia Garden is yet another classical garden situated in Jiahe district in Shanghai municipality. According to history, the garden is divided into three parts comprising of three private villas owned individually by Mr. Jin, Mr. Sheng and Mr. Gong. The garden is spread in an area of three hectares and came into existence during the Song Dynasty (1127-1129). The Qiuxia Garden is nearly 800 years old and has become a prominent attraction in Shanghai because of its exquisiteness, beautiful landscape and tranquil environment.
 
The Qiuxia Garden faced ravages of times during its 800-year history. It was damaged and reconstructed several times. The garden is now listed as the cultural heritage of Shanghai. Even while the garden was built many times, it retains its original look as stated in the historical documents. The city government finally opened the garden for public viewing in 1987. The water pond is a prominent feature of this garden. The architecture here is based on the Ming Dynasty style. The rockeries, stone-arched bridges and the woods scatter around provide an awesome look. Wandering in the garden seems as though one has stepped into ancient times of China.
 
Guyi Garden

The classic Chinese garden “Guyi Park” is situated in Nanxiang town in Shanghai. The garden is 21 km away from the centre of the town. It was originally built during the Ming Dynasty. The beautifully landscaped garden is indeed a pleasant place for strolling. The lily pads-covered lake is located at the centre of the park. The teahouses and beautiful corridors offer stunning views. The garden has been exquisitely designed and is based on the typical, classic Jiangnan style. The large bamboo forests, winding brooks, ancient buildings, scrolls covered with couplets and artistic pavements are the major highlights at the Gui Garden.

Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden is yet another popular classical garden. It is situated in Anren Jie in Shanghai. The construction of the garden was completed in 1577 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The garden has a 400-year-old history behind it. After many damages and reconstructions, the garden was finally opened to the public in 1961. Yuyuan Garden is spread over an area of nearly five acres. The garden has six main scenic spots including the Inner Garden, Yuhua Hall, Huijing Hall, Dianchun Hall, Wanhua Chamber and Sansui Hall. The prominent features at the garden include cloisters, ponds, rockeries, halls and pavilions.

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