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Where to let your love of lotus flowers blossom

2012-07-10 17:14 Global Times     Web Editor: Xu Rui comment
Head to one of Beijing's lakes and enjoy the lotus flowers.

Head to one of Beijing's lakes and enjoy the lotus flowers.

Symbolic of peace and purity among other things, the elegant lotus flower has been adored by the Chinese for thousands of years and viewing the flower in summertime has become a tradition.

"It has been a time-honored custom to view lotus flowers across the country in summer in Beijing," said Zhao Shu, an expert on folk culture.

The tradition was first observed by Buddhists, who thought the flower looked like the lotus-shaped foundation the Gautama Buddha sat on, he explained.

"In Beijing, the tradition was also observed by the imperial families. Some emperors, such as Qianlong (1711-99) of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), were especially fond of the flower and cultivated it," Zhao explained.

In the past in a siheyuan (traditional courtyard surrounded by four buildings) in Beijing, every household would plant the flower and it was a common practice for the whole family to sit around and view it in the evenings, Zhao noted.

The bright and fragrant flower grows in ponds and has adapted to tough environments. The lotus has been eulogized in Chinese literature, as well as traditional Chinese ink and water paintings. It has inspired folk dances and photography alike.

The seeds, leaves and roots of the aquatic plant are also used in Chinese medicine and cooking.

Lotus flowers form key components of certain festivals. Every year on Zhongyuan (the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar), a ghost festival to commemorate the deceased, lanterns in the shape of lotus flowers are lit along rivers.

But the tradition has been losing its appeal among young people.

Here are Lifestyle's pick of the ideal places to view the flower.

The Old Summer Palace

Also known as Yuanmingyuan, the palace is famous for its extensive gardens and the Chinese and Western style architecture it once had.

Destroyed during the Second Opium War (1856-60) and with only ruins remaining, the garden boasts a number of lotus flowers from tropical areas.

June to August is the best time to observe the flower.

Address: 28 Qinghua Xilu, Haidian district

The Summer Palace

Also known as Yiheyuan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers an area of 2.9 square kilometers, with three-quarters being submerged in water.

The Zhijingge Lake and Zaojiantan Lake become covered with pink lotus flowers in the peak of summer.

The flowers become even more vivid and gorgeous after rain.

Address: 19 Xinjiangongmen Lu, Haidian district

The Lotus Market

Located near Shichahai, an historic area made up of three lakes in the north of central Beijing, the Lotus Market has been visited by lotus lovers since the late 1930s.

Thanks to the neighboring coffee shops, bars and restaurants, the market is now a perfect place to meander.

Address: 51 Di'anmen Xidajie, Xicheng district

Zizhuyuan Park

Primarily famed for its diverse species of bamboo, the park has grown lotus for over 40 years since it opened in 1953.

Visitors can enjoy a close look at the flowers by riding a boat in the ponds. They can observe different types, ranging from some native to China and others from further afield.

Address: 35 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Haidian district

Global Times

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