The Dianchi Lake Scenic Area is located in the southwest part of Kunming City. The Dianchi Lake has many different names, it is also known as Tien Lake, Tien Ch’ih, Dian Chi, Kunming Lake, K’un-Ming Ch’ih, Kunming Chi. We know there is a very famous lake in Beijing also named Kunming Lake. Do not get confused with the two. The Kunming Lake we introduce here is a large inter-land lake located on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau close to Kunming city, Yunnan province. Its nickname is “Sparkling Pearl Embedded in a Highland.” The reason why there is a lake in Beijing also named Kunming Lake is because it was built with the one in Kunming city as its model. The Summer Palace in Beijing is built for the emperor and the royal families in ancient China.
There are lots of attractions along the huge lake that are captivating tourists. These beautiful places are the Yunnan Ethnic Villages, White Fish Park (Baiyukou Park), Grand View Park (Daguan Park), Haigeng Bank, Western Hills Forest Park, Kwan-yin Hill, temples and pagodas.
Dianchi Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Yunnan Province and the sixth largest one in China. It covers about 300 square kilometers. The Kunming Dianchi Lake has picturesque scenery on the Yungui Plateau, the lake has a reputation as “Sparkling Pearl Embedded in a Highland” or ‘A Pearl on the Plateau’.
The lake is crescent-shaped, about 39 kilometers (24 miles) in length and 13 kilometers (8 miles) in width at its widest. Its natural banks are formed by mountains on all four sides. More than twenty rivers nurture the lake which has a shoreline of 163.2 kilometers (101 miles). Four surrounding hills contribute to the picturesque landscape, making visitors intoxicated and linger around. You may appreciate the beauty of the lake and hills from a boat, and explore this cradle of Yunnan culture.
Yunnan Ethnic Villages
There are towns and villages near the Dianchi lake providing visitors with easy access to experience customs of the local people. The village is a good channel for visitors to understand the social customs of the ethnic groups in Yunnan province. It has a natural sun-bathing area where you can escape from the heat of summer. Twenty-five ethnic nationalities have their respective villages and conduct many activities to present their unique folkways and beautiful clothes. Also you can enjoy the water screen movie and an elephant performance, have a taste of the local dishes and buy pretty handicrafts.
Haigeng Bank is about four kilometers (2.5 miles) long, it looks like a floating jade belt. Haigeng Bank is in fact a watershed of the Dianchi Lake. Slender willow twigs sweep the lake in the gentle breeze. In the south is a wonderful natural swimming pool which is always crammed with people in midsummer.
Grand View Park
Grand View Park is vibrant with rock gardens, pavilions, bridges and murmuring water. It is famous for the longest couplets in China on the Grand View Pavilion. The Grand View Pavilion was built in the year 1828. The couplet written in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), contains 180 characters brimming with literary grace. During festival evenings, gatherings take place here.
Kwan-yin Hill is surrounded by the vast lake and has an altitude of 2,040 meters (6,693 feet). Lofty peaks on this hill seem to thrust themselves straight towards the sky. A Kwan-yin Temple built here in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was once a popular resort of Buddhism. Remaining are a seven-tier brick pagoda, houses, and a gate to the Kwan-yin Temple.
White Fish Park
White Fish Park is on the west bank of the Kunming Lake. Here a small hill looks like a white fish opening its mouth to Dianchi Lake. Near the Irregular shore line, beautiful gardens are hidden among green trees. In spring, the cherry trees are in blossom, adding luster to this serene place. Overlooking the lake, you can see white sails of boats on the glistening lake and gulls skimming over the waves.
Unfortunately, since the seventies in last century, the Dianchi lake has been badly polluted, especially in the nineties in last century. Although efforts have been made to save the lake, they have been largely unsuccessful.