Our best friend, Luo Qiu Ping, has agreed to drive us from Changsha to Yueyang today in the northeast corner of Hunan province. It’s a long 2 and a half hour drive, Yueyang is about 156 km from Changsha.
Yueyang takes up about 15 thousand square kilometers and is home to about 5.5 million people. We arrive at Yueyang’s most famous attraction, the Yueyang Tower, located on the shores of Lake Dongting. The complex surrounding the tower consists of several areas of ancient monuments and buildings, with a pathway to explore them by and landscaping with water features along the way.
One of my favorite areas is the models of Yueyang Tower in Five Dynasties. These remarkable bronze models show the Yueyang Tower as it appeared in the Tang, the Song, the Yuan, the Ming, and the Qing dynasties. These intricate cast-bronze miniature buildings were designed according to descriptions of the original Yueyang tower in ancient books and paintings.
Next we visit Shuanggong Temple, which is a memorial temple built for two sages who contributed to the building of Yueyang Tower. The temple houses two exhibitions. One showcases the history and development of Yueyang Tower, as well as historical writings and poems about the tower. The other exhibition chronicles the lives of the two sages who contributed to the building and preservation of Yueyang Tower. Bronze statues at the front gate of the temple immortalize the two sages of Yueyang.
The tablet corridor is a covered walkway lined with 50 historic stone tablets of ancient calligraphy meandering through the center of the complex.
Luo Qiu Ping and my wife meet to discuss our plans for visiting the Tower here in the beautiful and peaceful relaxation garden.
Yueyang Tower stands on the west gate of the Yueyang city wall, looking down at Dongting Lake, facing Junshan Island in the distance, and linking the Yangtze River to the north and the Xiangjiang River to the south. Thousands of visitors a year pack in to see this cultural relic.
Before ascending the tower, we walk under it to get a glimpse of the views of Dongting Lake behind the tower. From this vantage point we can see the cargo ships sail on the misty waters of Dongting Lake and sometimes catch a glimpse of Junshan Island in the distance.
Finally, we enter the Yueyang Tower, but first we have to cover our shoes. A remarkable wooden screen written by famous calligrapher Zhang Zhao of the Qing Dynasty greets us at the entrance. Constructed of only wood with interlocking brackets that require no nails, Yueyang Tower is listed as one of the three great towers in China. The tower is 3 stories tall and about 15 meters high. Four huge pillars support the entire structure. From the top of the tower we can look out over the complex and see Yueyang city in the distance.