West Lake located in Hangzhou has been a tourist destination for centuries. Ancient scholars felt West Lake was one of the most important sites to visit, and they felt that they had not seen anything, if they had not seen West Lake. Because of its history many legends have formed surrounding West Lake. The majority of these West Lake legends are tragic love stories.
Even the lake itself has its own creation legend. The legend of the creation of West Lake has been retold and adapted through countless centuries. It is said that untold millennia ago the Jade Dragon, and Gold Phoenix had discovered a piece of pure white jade on the fairyland along the Silver River in the heaven. After many years of continual laboring, they transformed it into a perfect jade ball. Anywhere the jade ball shined, green trees and blooming flowers would sprout up. When the news of this precious treasure reached the ears of the Heavenly Empress's ear, she desired to possess it. She ordered her generals to acquire the jade ball for her. When the Jade Dragon and Gold Phoenix demanded the ball back, a huge battle ensued. During the battle the jade ball was dropped to the earth, where it turned into the crystal clear West Lake and Phoenix Mountain. Ever since the battle, Phoenix Mountain has kept a watch over the beautiful jade ball.
The legend of Lady White Snake is one of West Lake's most famous legends. It tells of two snakes, one white and the other green. The snakes after studying magic for thousands of years finally managed to transform themselves into beautiful women. Once they had succeeded in transforming themselves, they wanted to celebrate their accomplishment by taking a stroll as a woman and her maid around West Lake. During their stroll, it began to rain and the two huddled under a tree near Broken Bridge to get out of the rain. Not long after a handsome young scholar named XuXian walked past. Upon seeing the two women huddling under the tree, he offered his umbrella to Lady White Snake and her maid. The couple soon fell in love and married afterwards. After their marriage, the couple started their own medicine and herb shop. Since Lady White Snake had magic powers, she could diagnose their patient's illnesses and prescribe medicine immediately.
One day when Lady White Snake was out delivering medicines to the countryside, a monk named Fahai stopped by their shop and told XuXian that he was married to a demon who would one day devour him. He asked XuXian to visit him at the Gold Mountain Temple, where he imprisoned him later. Lady White Snake upon her return to their shop found her husband missing. She waited for him for many days unable to sleep or eat. She finally discovered that he had been imprisoned by the evil Fahai. She demanded that Fahai release her husband, and the evil monk insisted that since she was not truly human she was the evil one and he would destroy her. A huge battle raged between the monk and Lady White Snake. In the end, the monk managed to trap Lady White Snake in a golden alms bowl, where she was forced to admit defeat. The evil monk imprisoned Lady White Snake in the Leifeng Pagoda and declared that not until the lake dried up, or the pagoda falls will she be released. The Leifeng Pagoda did collapse in 1924 and some witness's claimed that upon its collapse a young maid was seen helping a beautiful woman out of the rubble. Currently, a new pagoda built in 2000 stands on the original site.
There are many legends associated with Hangzhou's West Lake. It is a beautiful area dotted with pagodas, pavilions and temples. It is easy to see why such a place has inspired many legends. It is a place which inspires with its beauty.
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