people regard Tongli as a substitute for Zhouzhuang
because Tongli has a similar history and natural
scenery, but is much less crowded. Tongli also has
its own unique features which are worth exploring
Though long outshined by Zhouzhuang,
Tongli is a halcyon and idyllic spot location
in Wujiang City. The well-preserved waterside
town has a history of more than 1,000 years.
Tongli is divided into seven islands
intersected by 15 canals. Because of the landscape,
almost all of the buildings in the town are along
the waterfront. In front of the buildings, small
stairs leading to the canals were built, which
are convenient for residents to wash clothes and
for traveling around the town by boat.
Arched roofs, lofty gables, stone
bridges and green willows lining the banks can
be found almost everywhere in the town. They help
create a poetic and romantic atmosphere, especially
in early spring when trees are budding and refreshing
drizzles are frequent.
The landscape also makes Tongli a
town of bridges. There are 49 stone bridges linking
different sections of the town, each displaying
a different style.
the most notable are Taiping (Peace and Tranquility)
Bridge, Jili (Luck) Bridge and Changqing (Lasting
Celebration) Bridge. They are known collectively
as Ternate Bridges, as they cross three rivers
and form a natural ring road. The Ternate Bridges
are fortunate symbols in the eyes of the local
residents and they walk over them for good luck
during weddings or birthday parties.
The oldest bridge in Tongli is Siben
(Reflecting Origin) Bridge, which was built in
the Song Dynasty (960-1279), while the smallest
bridge is called Dubu (Single Step) Bridge and
is only one-and-a-half meters long and less than
one meter wide.
Thanks to the lakes and waterways,
Tongli stayed away from the numerous wars which
swallowed many other beautiful towns in ancient
times. Its former glory can be found in many well-preserved
ancient residential and monastic buildings.
In fact, the town is known as a "museum
of ancient Chinese architecture," as about
40 percent of the houses and temples in the town
date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties.
With their whitewashed walls, black
tiled roofs, carved wooden windows and elegant
wood structures, these buildings feature the harmonious
combination of residential buildings and gardens.
them, Tuisi (Retreat and Meditation) Garden is
the most famous, especially after it was listed
as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
This garden was built by a former
royal official Ren Lansheng in 1886 during the
Qing Dynasty, after he retired.
"When in office, one should be
loyal to the emperor; when away from office, one
should meditate upon his previous faults."
This was the motto of Chinese officials in imperial
times and where the garden's name "Retreat
and Meditation" came from.
The western part of the garden is
the residential quarter, including a sitting hall,
a tea hall and the main hall. The eastern part
is the scenic area dotted by pavilions, terraces,
winding causeways and rockeries.
Covering an area of 6,600 square meters,
the garden is shaded by lush trees and embroidered
with various bonsais and flowers. Red carps swim
in the ponds, and various birds chirp in the woods.
One can feel a classical elegance and harmony.
Tongli is more than just a town with old bridges,
houses and gardens. It is a place where one can
rest his heart and totally discard the cares of
life for a while.
One can stroll around the town along
its stone-paved lane, see women washing clothes
by the canals, elderly ladies doing morning exercise
in groups, men playing cards in teahouses, and
fishermen paddling through the waterways with
their solemn cormorants perched on the boats.
Spending little money, one can enjoy
a fine array of local specialties. Teahouses can
be found everywhere and one can drink the fresh
green tea served in clay pots.
In the past 10 years, Zhouzhuang in
Jiangsu Province was a popular choice for those
who want to have a touch of nostalgia. Water,
bridges, age-old buildings and unspoiled folk
customs have earned it the title of "Oriental
Venice." More and more people swarm here
to seek peace and retreat, only to find that the
tiny town bursting with visitors from all over
the world. Fame has made it hard to spend a quiet
and soothing holiday in Zhouzhuang. Thus, Tongli,
a neighboring town, has become an alternative
tours to Tongli:
China Tour To Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Tongli,
China Tours: Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, Yangshuo,
Nanjing, Suzhou, Tongli, Shanghai