虎丘-Tiger hill

Tiger Hill, 虎丘, pronounced houtchio has a history of about 2500 years and consists of about 18 sights. Two of those are the Leaning Tower of Suzhou, also known as 云岩寺塔,Yún yán sì tǎ, and the Sword Pool, which is said to be the entrance of the mysterious tomb of King Wu.

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The tower was founded in 327 and has been rebuilt over the years due to extensive damage in wars. The tower is  slanted due to the passage of the thousand years it has been standing up. The top of the tower is about 2.3 meters from its center. Due to damage in wars, especially the second Sino-Japanese war, the tower was rebuilt and strengthened. It is said that Buddhist scriptures and porcelain were found in the tower when it was being reconstructed.Now it has become dangerous to go to the top because cracks have been found in the walls of the tower. As a result, access to the top is forbidden.

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The second more inspiring sight was the Sword Pool, which supposedly hides the tomb of the Great King Wu. There were discussions about excavating this part to look for the King’s tomb, but the government did not assent and gave three important reasons for it. First, it was only an assumption that it was the true tomb of the King , and could not be proven true. In ancient times, Kings used to have many tombs to mislead enemies or other people who wished to steal the royal treasures. Second, it would be very expensive to import foreign knowledge to excavate the place as they would need manpower and more expert knowledge. Third and most important reason is that The sword pool is under the leaning tower, and excavation could lead to deepening of the cracks in the leaning tower, which could in turn lead to the collapse of the tower and the deaths of the workers. The government did not want to take such a great risk and talks to find the tomb were stopped.

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There are other sites, such as the Sword-testing rock. The story around this is that there was a couple of husband and wife who used to make swords. It was brought to the attention of the King that they had built an unbreakable sword. In fact, it is said that they had made two such swords, but they kept one and gave one to the king. The king, wanting to boast of his possession wanted to show the world that the sword that he has acquired could break a rock. There are two stories that are retold. No one knows which one is true. One story is that the King managed to break the rock with the new sword. The second story is that on the eve of the sword-testing day, the King tried it on the rock, but the sword could not break the rock. The King then told carvers to crack the stone so that he can appear to break the stone the next day and not lose face.

There were other sights such as the Bonsai Garden, the Pagoda yard, the Han Han Spring which had their own stories.

But these two were the main and the most important sights of Tiger Hill.

See you soon for another blog full of stories and history.

I hope that this blog was educational, interesting and fun.

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