An oasis of tranquility

Guhua Park in suburban Shanghai’s Fengxian District is lined with as many as 22 stone bridges amid an expanse of trees, shrubs and flowers, making it popular among local residents.
Tan Weiyun / SHINE

Guhua Park is an oasis of tranquil beauty and harmony, a place of water, greenery and rich Chinese culture. 

Opened to the public in 1986, the park in the center of Nanqiao Town in suburban Shanghai’s Fengxian District has become a popular venue with local residents.

The 10-hectare park which has no admission fee is dotted with 22 stone bridges, relocated historic buildings and expansive areas of trees, shrubs and flowers. 

Past the front gate and around the stone-carved screen wall, West Lake unfolds. A zigzag bridge extends to the heart of the lake. Its three kiosks attract many older residents, who like to gather to play zither or flute, adding a musical air to the park. 

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Along the lakeside to the east are the Qixiu, Feihong and Xiaoyuntai bridges. 

Feihong Bridge, shaped like a rainbow, is said to be the best place to view the rainbows created when sunlight bounces off the droplets of a manmade waterfall along the northern hill. The Xiaoyuntai Bridge, built in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was moved from Yuntai Lane in Nanqiao Town.

Up a meandering hill path, the Three Ladies Ancestral Hall sits to the north of Xiaoyuntai Bridge.  

Legend has it that Nanqiao was the place where King Wu, Fu Chai (528-473 BC), buried his three daughters as the family tried to escape soldiers of King Yue, who defeated Wu and swallowed up his kingdom. 

Locals built the ancestral hall in the town center to honor the memory of the daughters. It was later relocated to the park. 

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In the east of the park is a 30-meter-high hummock with an octagonal pavilion on top. From this vantage point, people can even see Hangzhou Bay in the distance and its two small islands on a clear day. 

Down the hill, along the cobblestone path and over Jiexiu Bridge sits the Autumn Water Garden, an islet linked by three bridges. 

The garden features an interior pond and Taihu Lake rocks to create a natural space of water and mountains. 

A few steps away is the No. 1 Bridge of Nanqiao. It was built in 1799, originally to span the Nanqiao River. Today, the waterway has been filled in for urban development. The bridge was relocated to the park in the early 1980s. 

Past the bridge to the east is the Xing Garden flanked by lush bamboo trees. With pavilions, corridors and water kiosks, the garden is a perfect spot to sit and contemplate the scenic, fragrant surroundings. Visitors can enjoy a cup of green tea while watching a pool of goldfish. 

In the park’s eastern tip, hidden under a copse of trees is a piece of prehistoric wood, 28 meters long and 3.3 meters across. The wood dates back to the Jurassic period more than 100 million years ago. It was a gift from the Indonesian government about 30 years ago. 

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Tan Weiyun

The grand stage is covered with a golden roof carved with 400 birds.

A grand stage sits on the axis line separating the western and eastern sides of Guhua Garden. It is covered with a golden roof carved with 400 birds. Its arc shape is said to provide excellent acoustics. 

The east side of the park provides several recreational areas. There, children can play on large patches of lawn, and young lovers can row a boat on the nearby waters.

Areca and palm trees transplanted from southern China give the park a tropical feel.

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Wanqing (sunset glow) Garden is filled with exotic-shaped rocks.

One highlight in the park is Wanqing (sunset glow) Garden, filled with exotic-shaped rocks. Constructed in 2004, the garden drew inspiration from the ancient architecture of Yiqiu Garden in old Fengxian, with its reading hall, stone exhibition room, tearoom and a central pond. 

In the courtyard, two trees nicknamed “husband and wife” are planted. They look as if they are hugging each other. 

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People boat on the East Lake in Guhua Park. The Double-Pavilion Bridge links the lake’s eastern and western banks.

Along the riverbank lined with willow trees to the south, you get a wide and open view of the East Lake. The Double-Pavilion Bridge links the lake’s eastern and western banks. 

It was originally a narrow, plain wooden bridge built over the Tangang River. The story goes that during Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a scholar who lived in the north and a general who lived in the south often met on the bridge. They disliked one another, and neither wanted to yield passage to the other. 

When the emperor heard about this, he admonished them both. Expressing remorse, the pair built a wider stone bridge with two pavilions as a gesture of reconciliation. Locals called it One Heart Bridge.

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The three kiosks on the West Lake attract many older residents, who like to play zither or flute.

If you go

Address: 220 Jiefang Rd M., Nanqiao Town, Fengxian DistrictOpening 

Hours: 5:30am-4:30pm

Admission: Free

How to get there: Take S4 Highway and get off at the Nanqiao exit. Turn right on Wangyuan Road S. and then right on Jiefang Road.   

Tan Weiyun / SHINE

Families enjoy early summer sunshine on the lawn.

Tan Weiyun / SHINE
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