With a population of over 14 million, Guangzhou is the third largest city in China after Shanghai and Beijing. A national transportation hub and trading port Guangzhou is located in southern China on the Pearl River. It is one of the more well known Chinese cities in the West due to its famous cuisine and the people’s business acumen. This prosperous metropolis serves as the political, economic, scientific, educational and cultural center in Guangdong area. Guangzhou benefited greatly from China’s Reform and the “Opening Up” policy and spearheaded the economic development of the country. Packed with skyscrapers, highways and modern buildings, Guangzhou is a populated city with people seeking a better economic future. During the Tang Dynasty, Guangzhou and the surrounding area of Guangdong served as the first stop on the Silk Road. Today, the region is known as the world’s factory floor, exporting more goods than any other Chinese province. And Located within the central area of Tianhe District, Frasers Hospitality is launching Fraser Suites Guangzhou in 2012. This is part of a mixed development comprising serviced apartments, offices and a mall.
This photo of Bright Filial Piety Temple (Guangxiao Si) is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Bright Filial Piety Temple – Built during the Western Han Dynasty (207 BC – 24 AD) , the temple was initially used as a lecture hall before it became a Zen Buddhist Temple during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279). Many noted monks and masters have resided at the temple but the most famous of them all is Hui Neng, the famous sixth master of Zen Buddhism. Bright Filial Piety Temple is where Hui Neng was initiated into monkhood by the symbolic ritual of shaving one’s head. Through the architecture of the temple and its cultural relics, visitors can get a glimpse of the history of Chinese Buddhism, and as well as the history of Guangdong Province. The main complex consists of Mahavira Hall, Sixth Ancestor Hall, Samgharama Hall, Heavenly King Hall, the East and West Iron Towers, and the Mahakaruna Dharani Sutra Pillar. Established during the Northern Song Dynasty, the Sixth Ancestor Hall was established in honor of Master Hui Neng who is widely considered the most influential monk in the history of Chinese Buddhism. In fact inside the hall, there is a larger-than-life statue of him. In 676, the then abbot of the temple buried some of Hui Neng’s hair under a bodhi tree. A seven-story (7.8 meters) octagonal Yifa Pagoda was erected as a memorial to him. In addition to these structures, other beautiful buildings and relics can be seen on the temple grounds. The Heavenly King Hall boasts a 380-year old Helin Stele, which was inscribed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The Spring of Washing Bowl was dug in 527 to provide clear spring water in which Bodhidhamma, the initiator of Chinese Zen Buddhism, could wash his bowl. And the unique mushroom-shaped dharani pillar, which was made of bluestone in 826, is engraved with the words of the Mahakaruna Dharani Sutra.
Opening hours: 06:30 – 17:00
This photo of Yuexiu Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Yuexiu Park – Covering an area of 860,000 square meters, Yuexiu Park is the largest park in downtown Guangzhou and is made up of three artificial lakes and seven hills. Getting its name from Yuexiu Mountain, the park is reputed for its picturesque lakes, hills and cultural relics. The park’s main features include the stone sculpture of the Five Rams, Zhenhai Tower, the site of the Ming Dynasty City Wall, and Square Cannon Site. The Five-Ram Sculpture is perhaps one of the most famous structures in the whole of Guangzhou and regarded by many as the emblem of Guangzhou City. It is said that over 2,000 years ago, Guangzhou was a barren land plagued with famine. One day, five immortals clad in different color garments came riding on five rams. The rams held sheaves of rice in their mouths which the deities left for the people of Guangzhou. After receiving blessings from the deities, the city of Guangzhou then went on to become a rich and properous place. Three artificial lakes — Dongxiu, Nanxiu, and Beixiu– cover an area of more than 50,000 square meters. Dongxiu Lake and Nanxiu Lake are tranquil and elegant and one would often find artists painting or sketching along the lake. Flower exhibitions are also held here from time to time and the park is perfect for nature lovers who don’t have the time to get away from the city. There is also an amusement park, swimming pool, gymnasium, restaurants, stalls, museum and art museum located in Yuexiu Park.
Opening hours: 06:00 – 22:00 everyday.
This photo of Pearl River (Zhujiang) is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Pearl River – Composing of four separate river systems, the Pearl River is more than 2,000 kilometers and is the third longest river in China. The Xi River, Liuxi River, Bei River, and the Dong River – these four rivers join up in Guangzhou, flow for about 70 kilometers, before emptying out into the South Sea. The 70 kilometers flowing through Guangzhou City is affectionately known as the ‘Pearl River’. Today ten bridges span the entire Pearl River. At night the bridges are lit up with colorful shining neon lights and it comes alive with this blaze of lights. The night scene on the Pearl River has been compared by some with Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong. The Pearl River was originally called ‘The Pearl Sea’ for its 2000 meters-wide channel but over time the channel gradually shrunk, and now it is only 180 meters wide. It is said that there is a huge boulder in the river bed. This rock is so round and smooth that it looks like a large, shining pearl hence the name ‘Pearl River’.