Ancient Shangxiang Pilgrim's Trail
Following the verdant Yanggong Causeway, we slip away from the crowd of West Lake into the little-known Maojiabu Scenic Area, named so for the famous grass thatches ("mao") which surrounds the area from as early as the Ming and Qing dynasties. In ancient times, pilgrims who are visiting the Tianzhu mountain would land at the Maojiabu port where they would burn incense and pray before starting the Shangxiang Ancient Path into the Buddhist temples.
The pathway passes through folk cottages, dancing willows, wooden walkways, cobbled stones and reed forests accompanied only by songs of low-flying birds. It is an unknown slice of Hangzhou countryside secretly residing within easy vicinity to the West Lake!
Maojiabu has long history of excellent cuisine. Bai Juyi, the legendary poet of Tang Dynasty who was once the prefecture chief of ancient Hangzhou, was once invited into the area and wrote an inscription of two characters "Zui Bai" in praise of Bai Juyi's enchanment of the scenery and the food. Here, you can enjoy an authentic Hangzhou lunch.
After lunch, we continue to the three temples of Tianzhu. We start at the Upper Tianzhu Temple of Faxi, the largest of the three with palace halls. The temple is also surrounded by picturesque sights of White Cloud Peak and Rudou Peak. We could also offer an opportunity to sit with the Buddhist Alms at the monastery for one of the most renowned vegetarian meals in Hangzhou!
Continuing into the Middle Tianzhu Temple of Fajing with its Ming dynasty-era relics and the Lower Tianzhu temple of Faxi at a small hill alley, you will find opportunities to pray without much of the crowds that flock into other temples such as Lingyin. The biggest highlight of Faxi Temple is the statue of five hundred arhats, which exhibits the different arhats statue styles in various temples in China.
Finally, we descend through a beautiful mountain path into the quaint Fayun Village, where you will enjoy a quick stroll around the area before retreating back to your accommodation.