Nanhai City is one of the ancient towns in history and already a shire (214 BC) in the Qin Dynasty and then, a county in the Sui Dynasty. It was given the administrative statue of a city in 1992, now with a population of over one million plus one million migrants and with a fertile land of 1 151 sq km.
Though a subordinate city at a county level attached to Foshan City, it existed long before Foshan itself. Situated in the middle of the Pearl River Delta, it has never lacked talents throughout history. The most famous is Kang Youwei, the brain behind the One-Hundred-Day Reform in 1889 that unfortunately failed to switch the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) into a constitutional monarchy.
Adjacent to Guangzhou and Foshan in the north and close to Hong Kong and Macao in the south, communications and transportation are very convenient. With many water channels crisscrossed, the far stretching smooth land is rich in farming resources and so is food processing, such as sugar refining and distillery. Shipbuilding is one of the big trades. Township enterprises are booming, such as in Jiujiang Township (cars/second-hand electric appliances), Dali Township (aluminum products and motorcycles), Xiqiao Township (textiles), Yanbu Township (under wears), Pingzhou and Lishui (shoes) and Nanzhuang. Garment making is very eye-catching and occupies a large portion of the market at home. In the past twenty years, those township industries have laid a solid foundation for the taking-off of Nanhai's economy.
Nanhai is praised as one of the four little economic dragons in Guangdong, for its industries have been developing amazingly fast in recent years. A few high-tech companies set up in Nanhai City, such as Photon Valley and a software industry park with an investment of over 300 million yuan (US$36.144 million). Though Nanhai is only a city at county level, it GDP reached 33.856 billion and its total bank deposit mounted to 46.984 billion in 2000. With the highest deposit per capita, Nanhai City is the richest in China according to the size of its population. There are over 70 000 local businessmen now. Most of them were former farmers and mainly engaged in traditional industries, such as iron wares, toys and processing industries. In recent years, information industries have been developing rapidly with an ever-expanding e-commerce system. Over 10 000 enterprises have set up their own websites and Nanhai is becoming one of the best digital cities in Guangdong, even in China. An Intellectual Forum was held in the summer of 2000 in Nanhai, attracting a lot of commercial tycoons and economists, like Liu Chuanzi, Liu Yonghao, Liu Jiren and Liang Dingbang. They are men of time at the moment.
Nanhai has a long history of national industry. For example, Jichanglong Silk Mill was set up in 1872 as the first national industry in China. It was invested by Chen Qiyuan (1834-1903) and very popular at that time for its high quality products. As we can see today, capitalism has long deeply rooted in Nanhai. Nanhai is the hometown to many national celebrities, such as Kang Youwei (1858-1927), Zhan Tianyou (1861-1919) and Zhou Boqi. Kang Youwei led the 100-day reform (1895) in the late Qing Dynasty, and put himself in the learning from the Western developed countries. His teachings and concepts once overwhelmed whole China, and still has an amazing influence in China's intellectual circle. Zhan Tianyou (1861-1919) was one of the overseas students of the first batch sent by the Qing government, when he was only 12 years old. He studied civil architecture and railway construction at Yale University, after he graduated from Yale with an excellent academic record, he returned to China. In 1905, he was appointed general architect in charge of the construction of the railway between Beijing and Zhangjiakou. That was the first railway ever built in China. He returned to his hometown in 1910 and supervised the construction of Chaozhou-Shantou Railway. He died of overwork in 1919. Born in Nanhai, Zhou Boqi was one of the earliest scientists in China, who was good at optics and geometry. Zhou introduced photography from France into China in 1844, which really caught the imagination of the whole nation at that time. Chinese Kungfu master Huang Feihong (1850-1925) was also born in Luzhoucun Village of Nanhai, who has been a jianhu hero in Chinese modern history, leaving behind a lot of legendary stories. About 100 films have been made about his heroic deeds and over 40 Huang Feihong wushu coaching schools have been set up in the different parts of the world, teaching Chinese kungfu.
Local tourism has reached a high level as a result of abundant resources and a highly developed economy. The city boasts a dozen places of interest: Mt.Xiqiaoshan, Golden Bathing Beach, Huang Tai Sen Temple, Nanguo Peach Garden, the Fairy Lake of Danzao, Former Residence of Kang Youwei, who was the leader of the 100-day reform in the late Qing Dynasty (1889). Nanhai Film-Making Base invested by CCTV in Songgang Township is 12 kilometers from Guangzhou, Foshan and Guicheng respectively. It is the largest filmmaking base and tourist resort on the Pearl River Delta. With so many attractions and modern facilitates of recreation, Nanhai is highly recommended as a vacation relaxation resort.
Mt. Xiqiaoshan is a combination of a national scenic spot, a national forest park and a provincial holiday resort, which has always enjoyed the reputation of the best of the four famous mountains in South China. It is located southwest to Nanhai City, 45km west to Guangzhou Metropolis and 27km to Foshan City. The spot covers an area of 14 sq km and about 4km in diameter. With its summit 344m-high, Dakefeng Peak towers all the peaks around. It looks like a blooming lotus from above, which is regarded as a symbol of Buddhism. Mt.Xiqiaoshan used to be a volcano about 40 to 50 million years ago. Its eruptions gave birth to the present mountain with 72 peaks and 36 caves, 208 spring resources and 28 waterfalls. Since spring waters and waterfalls run everywhere in this area, it is called Singing Girl. Mt.Xiqiaoshan is well known not only for its beautiful scenery, but also for its value to science, geology and archaeology. There are exotic flowers, rare plants and a lot of beautiful landscapes, among which Baiyun Cave is very eye-catching, serene, handsome and with steep cliffs around. Shiyan Cave seems mysterious. Wuye Well and square bamboo trees are pleasure giving. Those scenes can be grouped into up-hill sites and downhill sites, with Tianhu Lake and Baiyun Cave as the centerpieces of all.
Covering an area of 8 hectares, Tianhu Lake is actually the mouth of an ancient volcano crater filled with rainwater. It has become a lake on the top of the mountain since time immemorial. It is said that it is so close to the sky that it is named "Tianhu" (the lake of the heavens). Since the Ming Dynasty, dragon boat racing has been held here every year. Not far from Tianhu Lake is the newly established Nanhai Buddhism Guanyin (Bodhisattva) Cultural Center, covering an area of 600 000 square meters. The bronze-made Guanyin figure is the highest in the world, sitting on a 61.9-meter-high foundation, which tells the memorial date of June 19 on the Chinese lunar calendar. On March 17 of 1998, holy-lust-applying ceremony was given to the figure. Ever since then, the Buddhist pilgrims and tourists have worshiped it. Mt.Xiqiaoshan has innumerable spring sources and Wuye Well in Biyun Village is the most famous. The square well is about 1 meter both in width and in depth. The well water is warm in winter and cool in summer, it is good for making tea, because no leaf can stay in it, and so it is called "Wuye Well". That is probably a religious fallacy.
Mt.Xiqiaoshan once had a lot of temples, but most of them were destroyed. Baofeng Temple was the best known located on the west of Baofeng Peak. The temple was built in the Ming Dynasty and destroyed later by a minister of that time. Huo Tao, who wanted to bury his wife under it, but now just broken walls and some ruins of the Buddhist figurines remain. The Squared Bamboo Garden is in it.
Shiyan Cave once was a stone field many years ago. Our ancestors used these stones to make tools and art crafts, which were sold to the residents of the Pearl River area, Taiwan and even Southeast Asia. Because some swallow-like birds nest inside, this cave is called "Shiyan Cave". At the foot of Xiqiaoshan Mountain is located Baiyun Cave, covering an area of 1.1 sq km. And its name came from a hermit named He Baiyun, who once lived here before. It is said that if you want to know Mt.Xiqiaoshan, you should visit Baiyun Cave first. When you walk along the path, coming into sight first is Huiguang Tower, the entrance as well as an altar for worshiping God of intelligence. The locals also call it "Brush Tower". Then you come to Baiyun Temple and Zizu (Purple Bamboo) Temple. The Huilong Lake is just in front of the temple, with a one-hundred-year tree standing on the side. On the other side of the lake, right towards the tree is a Jade Tower of Seven Stories. "Seven Stories" refers to achieving the highest level of Buddhism.
When you walk along the lake and up onto the stone stairs, you will see a Chinese archway engraved on the upper top with a few characters "First Hollow". According to Daoism, "Hollow" means god's home. The First Hollow is actually the gateway to Yunquan Temple, with a Chinese couplet on the both sides, implying that only those who believe Daoism can become immortal. "A Ray of Sky" is an attractive spectacle with light coming through a narrow gap between hills. Following are Baiyun Waterfall and Footmarks of God. Baiyun Waterfall is also called Feiliuqian Chi (Pool), meaning water falling down from the sky. Lu Dongbing, an immortal in Chinese Mythology, left his footmarks here, when he was looking for herbal medicines in the mountains. Other interests include Chisong Huang Tai Sen (Immortal) Temple and a small museum of lion dance art. Huang Feihong, who was a famous Chinese kung fu master, built the temple. It is said that during the Dongjin (Eastern Jin) Dynasty, there was a shepherd boy named Huang Chuping who had stayed in a cave to practice asceticism for 40 years by following the instructions of an immortal, He finally attained Dao and became an immortal himself.
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