Suzhou, China Part IV–Tiger Hill

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This hill used to be known as “the Hill Emerging from the Sea”, where Wu King Helu was buried. The legend goes that three days after his burial, his son spotted a white tiger squatting on the hill. Hence the name Tiger Hill.

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The imperial burial site is surrounded by a canal…

…where you can always take a canal boat tour around the park if you ever get tired of walking.

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A 1500 year-old calligraphy work, renovated multiple times during different periods.

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Sword-Testing Rock: a rock in two pieces that was supposedly cleaved cleanly by a legendary sword of extraordinary sharpness.

Rare bamboo grown behind a rock

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Lady Zhen’s memorial. Legend goes Lady Zhen came from a rich family who lost their wealth during a famine. During their emigration the family had to surrender her to a brothel. The artistic girl kept her chastity and lived on with her musical talents. One day a wealthy official bought out her first night.  Knowing that she can no longer keep her body at her will, she killed herself that night.

The official was terrified with the news of her death. To pacify his conciencious, he built a small memorial for her here.

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Our tour guide.

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Thousand-People Plaza: a rock-based plaza at the bottom of the leaning tower plaza. Legend says after the burial of Wu King Helu, his son, the succesor of the throne, commanded the murder of some thousand craftsmen who were involved in his father’s burial in order to conceal the exact location of the grave.

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The son held a feast for the thousand craftsmen and undertakers here, where they drank till they drop. Then he commanded the army to stab each of them in the darkness of the night.  It was said that there were so much blood that the entire plaza was drenched in red.

People say that the souls of the dead come back and haunted this place whenever it was rainning, because the floor always turned red under the rain.  It turned out that the rock naturally contains a lot of iron.  Myth explained after a thousand years finally.

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You can spot the Tower from the thousand-people plaza. It quietly stood there like nothing happened.

Wait, can you see the tower?

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Gazebo of Two Gods: It is said that Lü Dongbin, the founder of Taoism, was playing chess with another famous Taoist figure Chen Tuan. After an entire afternoon, Lü went home. But he did not find his family there, instead, everyone around him looked different, worn different styles of clothing. It turned out a thousand years had passed and he is already with generations after him.

Pond of Nodding-Head rock.

Legend goes that Zhu Daosheng, a famous Taoist teacher of his time, was an eye-sore for the government.  When he arrived at Tiger Hill, he decided to hold a three-day lecture by the pond, but the government banned his event.  Regardless, he kept on lecturing at an empty Thousand People Plaza. His lessons were so sensational that a rock from the lake nodded, hence the Nodding-Head Rock.

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Entrance to the main part of the hill: Tiger Hill and Sword Pond.

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The characters above the moon-gate said: A Heavenly-Hole like No Other.

You can see the pond shaped like a sword, hence Sword Pond. Efforts of excravating the site was made in the 50s. The archealogists first drained the pond, where they found a small gated-hole at the end of the pond. Prying open the stone gate, they found a very narrow hallway extending into the darkness inside, letting in only one person at a time. The team lined up, one by one, they squeezed themselves into the cave. Once in there, the hall gradually widened and eventually it became 2-meter wide hall.  There they found another set of rooms, shaped like a typical imperial grave layout at the time.  At the end there were another gate, where it is believed belong to the owner of the grave. But the team decided to stop the excravation because they were so deep into the cave that the Leaning Tower might be right above it. Further digging may collapse the entire foundation of the Leaning Tower.  So the team decided to leave the grave alone, returned to the entrance and resealed the cave.

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Dedication engraved for the Sword Pond.

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Fish thrived here.

A temple next to the leaning tower.

Right across from the temple, a steep stair of 53 steps down. Each step you will see the Buddah when you turn your head back.

The leaning tower

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Unfortunately, it is too fragile to be open to the public.

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Engraved dedications were mostly destroyed, only three survived.

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House where the great poet and politician Su Dongpo lived when he was the Mayor of Suzhou a thousand years ago.

A ginko tree thrived in the courtyard.

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The unique ginko leaves.

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A place to create poems, with a unique view of the Leaning Tower, changing with the changing seasons.

Sword Pond from the bridge right above.

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Coming back , right across from the thousand people plaza.

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