August 30, 2009

 

Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, is located between the Gaolan and the White Pagoda (Baita) mountains. It has been a hub of communications between China’s Central Plain and northwestern China and an important point on the Silk Road that linked China’s ancient capital Xi’an with Central Asia and the Roman Empire. Branches of the Yellow River divide the city into several parts, giving Lanzhou a unique layout. Lanzhou is the political, economic, and cultural center of Gansu Province. Its chief industries include oil refining, chemicals, machinery, and wool textiles. Lanzhou is connected with Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Yinchuan, Urumqi, Xining, and Jiuquan by air and has convenient railway communications as well. 
At latitude 36°N and longitude 103°40′E,  Lanzhou city is the geographical center of China, with the least average distance to the other four provinces’  capitals. Mountains surrounded the southern and northern part of the city, and Huanghe River cuts through it from west to east. With 1,500 meters of average altitude, the city lies mainly in the basin.
Located inland, Lanzhou has an obvious continental monsoon climate with the character of less rainfall, more sunshine, and big different temperatures between day and night and with an annual average temperature of 9.1 C, annual frost-free period of 185-200 days, annual sunshine of 3,600 hours, and annual rainfall, most coming from June to September, of 250-350 mm.
The city now municipality administers 5 districts namely Chengguan, Qilihe, Xigu, Anning, Honggu, and Yongdeng, Yuzhong, Galan 3 counties, with a total coverage of 13,086 square km., and a total population of 2.75 million, including 36 nationalities, such as Han, Hu, Maan, Dongxiang, Zang, Meng, Tujia nationalities, among which the minority nationalities occupy 3.6% of the total number.
Lanzhou is an important city on the Silk Road and has many historic interests and scenic spots, including 16 historical relics, over 500 cultural relics, 250 ancient ruins, 12 ancient cities and more than 50 ancient buildings under the province’s protection. In the urban, there are many scenic spots with various styles, such as Five-spring Mountain, White-pagoda Mountain, White-cloth Temple, South Lake Park, Riverbank Park and aquatic Park, etc.
Lanzhou is especially well known as the “City of Fruits and Melons”, the annual yield of fruits and melons reaches to over 70,000 tons of honeydew melon, water melon and seeds melon, etc.. Its local specialties, such as lily, rose, black melon seeds and shredded tobacco for water pipes, are especially famous both in China and abroad and are sold to some countries and regions of the world.

August 30, 2009

Built on the Yellow River at the foot of White Pagoda Hill near Lanzhou, this was the first bridge on the Yellow River. During the fourteenth century, there was a floating bridge here, called Zhenyuan Bridge, which served as an important link on the Silk Road. The floating bridge was replaced in 1907 by the present iron bridge, which was reinforced in 1954.

 

August 30, 2009

 

The Waterwheel Garden, built in 1994, is located in the Binhe Middle Road (Binhe Zhong Lu) in Lanzhou. The garden covers an area of 1.45 hectares (3.58 acres) and is comprised of two waterwheels, a cofferdam, the recreation area and a house of water mill.
Lanzhou is the only city through which the Yellow River flows through; there are thus many irrigation machines in the city. According to historic record, the first waterwheel was invented in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) with the chariot wheels and a diameter ranging from 10 to 20 meters (32.8 to 65.6 feet). The center of the wheel was placed with an axle and boards, while the brim of the wheel was fixed with many quadrate buckets. These buckets could carry water to a height of 15 to 18 meters (49 to 59 feet) in order to irrigate fields. Until 1952, about 252 waterwheels stood along the river in Lanzhou, and at that time, the city was reputed to be the ‘City of Waterwheels’.
In the garden, two huge waterwheels with striking appearances stand uprightly on the south bank of the Yellow River. They are modeled on the antique waterwheel, having quadrate buckets and a diameter of 16.5 meters (54.1 feet). In high water periods, they are driven by flowing water from the river; in low water periods, they are driven by water gathered by cofferdam.

August 30, 2009

 

Located in the north of Lanzhou, the White Pagoda Park owes its name to the amazing pagoda of the same name within it. With images of Buddha on its eight sides, the seven-story pagoda with a height of 17m (about 55.8ft), is a pure white from top to bottom with the exception of the green top which greatly enhances the glamour of the whole building.
Legend has it that the White Pagoda was built in honor of a well-known Tibetan Lama who died of an illness in Lanzhou when on his way to Mongolia as representative of the leader of Sakyapa in order to meet Genghis Khan (1206-1227), founder of the big Mongolia Empire. Unfortunately, the original pagoda later toppled down. The present White Pagoda was constructed by an official in the reign of Emperor Yingzong of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), and later extended by an imperial inspector in Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).
 
In 1958, White Pagoda Park was opened to the public. Covering an area of 8,000 sq. m, the park has three stately and magnificent ancient architectural complexes within it. These harmonize with the surrounding natural landscape and the White Pagoda Mountain beyond. The mountain was once famed for its “Three Treasures”, the Elephant Skin Drum, Bronze Bell, and Redbud that withered long ago. After many years’ forestation, the park has taken on a brand new look and now the trees and grass here are luxuriant. Special features of the park are the Mysterious Yellow River Stone Hall and the Yugur Reception Counting House the likes of which may not be found elsewhere. If one has an opportunity to visit this park, a climb to the top of pagoda should not be missed, as it affords a bird’s eye view of the whole of Lanzhou City. One can also feast one’s eyes on the magnificent view of White Pagoda Mountain with the Zhongshan Bridge at its foot. The way in which the bridge and the mountain complement each other to form a picturesque scene has meant that together they have become a symbol of Lanzhou City and very much a “must see” for travelers.