Guangzhou's history began with a beautiful legend of five fairy rams, which probably describes the locals' strong desire for a prosperous and peaceful life, rather than a war between evil and good as in the other places in China. Zhenhailou (Five-Story) Tower appeasing the sea displays the unique personality and temperament of the Yue people, who took the snake as their totem. A great number of ancient sculptures about the amity between men and snakes are found among the ancient objects unearthed from the tomb of the Nanyue King Zhao Tuo (206 BC).
This rich land has been nurtured by the Pearl River since time immemorial. The Pearl rushes down from the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, and then meanders peacefully through Lingnan Region before pouring into the South China Sea. The Pearl River has created a long scroll of green mountains, blue rivers and a far stretching river delta on the lower reaches of the Pearl River in the long past. As a Chinese saying goes, "Rich land fosters talents." In the long history, there appeared innumerous heroic figures, celebrities or men of letters. Zhao Tuo (206 BC), king of the Nanyue Kingdom, left behind a great many of brilliant and sinful legacies. Dharma (526 AD) with his followers crossed the sea from India and landed at Xilaichudi of Guangzhou. He built a thatched house by the Pearl. That might be the original of today's Hualin Temple. Dharma, as the first Buddhist preacher in China, began his Buddhist teaching in Guangzhou. Dharma is one of the founders of China's Zen Buddhism. Han Yu, a great prose writer of the Tang Dynasty, once came to Guangzhou and Chaozhou. Su Shi, an outstanding poet of the Song Dynasty, left his handwritings in the Liurong (Six-Banyan) Temple.
Guangzhou is also one of the starting points of the ancient Marine Silk Road connecting China with the outside world about 2 000 years ago. Nanhai Polo Temple at Huangpu Harbor is an evidence of this overseas trading tradition. It is called Polo, for it comes originally from the word "paramita" in Sanskrit, meaning reaching the other side of the ocean. It is said when foreign ships saw Nanhai Polo Temple, they knew they succeeded in crossing the tough ocean, and finally arriving in Guangzhou. They couldn't help shouting "Paramita!" and hence the name "Nanhai Polo Temple" in the rough imitation of "paramita". This is a wonderful blessing word for Guangzhou from the Buddhist Sanskrit.
In Chinese modern history, Guangzhou has its brilliant pages. Hong Xiuquan (1814-1864) from Guanlubu Village led the Taiping Rebellion (1851) against the Qing Dynasty. Kang Youwei (1858-1927) and Liang Qichao (1873-1929) launched the 100-day reform in 1898 during the later Qing Dynasty. The heroic deeds against the British invaders at Sanyuanli (1841) still reminds us of what the "Western civilization" is. Below the Yuewangtai Terrace is located the headquarters where Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) plotted to overthrow the Chinese monarch. Huanghuagang has become a reminder of the Xinhai (1911) Revolution and Anti-Japanese invasion in 1940s.
History has also made Guangzhou a convergence of the Chinese and Western cultures. East has met west here for hundreds of years. A combination of the traditional Chinese culture of Central China, Western influence and cultural exchanges and local features has formed a Lingnan school of the Chinese culture. Now, the Chinese State Council has selected Guangzhou one of the 68 famous historic cultural cities in China. With a 2200-year long history, Guangzhou is rich in tourist resources. It has become an attractive coastal southern city with 101 scenic spots. On the list of local tourism attractions, there are specially selected ones: top scenic spots, top historical cultural relics, top modern sightseeing spots, 8 top festivals, a dozen tourist parks and 4 nationally-famous Buddhist monasteries.
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