Hangzhou, earlier Hangchhow, is only 100-odd kilometres away from Suzhou and is another beautiful city in the Yangtze basin. It is also ancient and has been the capital of Southern Song Dynasty from the 12th Century until Mogul invasions of the 13th Century. Reckoned as one of the most beautiful cities of China, Hangzhou was probably included in our itinerary for its touristic interests. Its West Lake, a huge water body, has since been declared a World Heritage Site. Most of the touristy activities were restricted in and around it and, like Suzhou, numerous gardens were laid around it.
Among the ancient cultural items the Six Harmonies Pagoda is important. Unfortunately we could not see it. Hangzhou is known as the “Porcelain Capital”. Chinese ceramics and porcelain are known the world over from ancient times. After all, the word “china” came into being because of Chinese exquisite ceramics. Their porcelain is of a fine variety, smooth to touch, translucent and delicate in looks. In a garden we came across ceramic furniture – stools, tables and things.
Like in Suzhou, the gardens are beautifully maintained with lovely colourful pavilions. Beautifully designed and painted from inside each is a work of art. In one of them a shutterless and glassless window showed well-tended plants in natural setting. It appeared like a painting and but for the window frames one would have taken it as such. Some of the pavilions were decorated with massive porcelain vessels of various colours, mostly blue and red overlaid by painted flowers. Those were things to be seen to be believed for our uninitiated eyes.