The perfect balance

Updated: 2013-02-01 07:55

(China Daily)

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 The perfect balance

Dongqian Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in East China's Zhejiang province. Provided to China Daily

Despite rapid development, Ningbo has retained its peaceful soul

With a history of more than 7,000 years as well as rapid development, Ningbo enjoys the best of both worlds. It manages to balance both traditional and progressive, peaceful and lively, with an array of surprising but pleasant contrasts along the way.

Located on the shore of the East China Sea and on the south side of the Yangtze River Delta, the city is well known for some of China's most impressive Buddhist temples and attractive scenery.

Close Shanghai, it is also an important economic center and base for the chemical industry.

A stroll through Ningbo's streets reveals the city's peaceful soul despite rapid modernization. It is a city trying hard to remain livable and beautiful, without holding back development to do so.

Ningbo's main attractions are its beautiful landscape and cultural heritage, much of it with strong Buddhist connections.

Here are some of the main sights:

1. Tianyi Pavilion Library

The perfect balance

Built in 1561, Tianyi Pavilion is the oldest existing private library in China. Housing more than 300,000 books, it is often referred to as the Book City of South China.

With a corridor extending from the front to the back and a pond for putting out fires, the space is typical of a southern private garden on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

When it was being rebuilt in 1933, the Zunjing Pavilion of Ningbo's Confucian Temple was moved into the garden, adding to its charm.

2. Baoguo Temple

On the side of Lingshan Mountain, 15 kilometers from downtown, Baoguo Temple is a well-known cultural and scenic spot.

First established in the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) and rebuilt and expanded in later dynasties, the present Baoguo Temple exhibits the wisdom of antique architecture. It is the oldest entirely wooden structure in China, and is held together without a single nail.

Unusually, no birds or insects make their home in the temple roof. A team working on restoring the building in 1975 found out that pungent smell that the wood gives off keeps them away.

3. Asoka Temple

Situated at the southern foot of Mount Pushan, 20 kilometers from Ningbo, Asoka Temple is renowned for its ancient buildings, gardens and exquisite architectural style.

Named after Asoka, a king of India, the temple is home to a bone fragment of Sakyamuni, Buddhism's founder.

Covering an area of 24,000 square meters, the temple is a favorite tourist spot for Buddhists from China and abroad.

Symmetrical in its layout, it contains more than 600 halls, floors and pavilions containing some exquisite sculptures and paintings, including the Four Heavenly Guardians and the Sixteen Princes.

The temple also contains numerous historical relics including calligraphy or couplets written by Chinese emperors and ancient artifacts.

4. Dongqian Lake

Just 15 kilometers southeast of Ningbo, Dongqian Lake is renowned for its picturesque mountains, clean water and rich cultural heritage.

As the largest natural freshwater lake in Zhejiang province, it covers an area of 22 square kilometers, four times that of Hangzhou's West Lake.

The history of the lake, which is split into three parts - Guzi Lake, North Lake, and South Lake - stretches back 1,200 years.


As an important component of Zhejiang Cuisine, Ningbo's food is well-known for its softness and flavor. Given Ningbo's location, fish is a favorite and it can be found on every menu.

Bingtang jiayu (steamed turtle in crystal sugar soup), which is bright gold, is one of the city's best-known dishes.

Rice glue balls, made with fine glutinous rice powder and pork wrapped by lotus leaves are also popular.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/01/2013 page22)