Ex­plor­ing the city from its din­ner ta­bles

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TRAVEL | LIFE - Nan­jing Mu­seum Pres­i­den­tial Palace Nan­jing 1912 Xuanwu Lake Park Taicheng Lion Moun­tain Niushou Moun­tain Yuhu­atai Dabaoen Tem­ple Qin­huai River By YANG FEIYUE in Nan­jing

The mau­soleum of Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) em­peror Zhu Yuanzhang sits at Zi­jin Moun­tain’s base.

It’s one of the coun­try’s largest im­pe­rial burial sites and marks a zenith of Ming ar­chi­tec­ture and stone-carv­ing. The sym­met­ri­cal sprawl of pavil­ions, arch­ways and rock in­scrip­tions was in­scribed as a UNESCO World Her­itage Site in 2003.

The 70,000-square-me­ter in­sti­tu­tion just south of Zi­jin Moun­tain claims to be the third largest of its kind in the coun­try. It presents over 400,000 dis­plays from Pa­le­olithic ar­ti­facts to con­tem­po­rary items. Ex­hibits in­clude items crafted from stone, earth, jade and bronze, plus paint­ings, cal­lig­ra­phy, em­broi­dery and bam­boo carv­ings.

The gov­ern­ment com­pound was for six cen­turies a place where prom­i­nent poli­cies were de­cided and ma­jor mil­i­tary events un­folded, such as those re­lat­ing to the 1840 Opium War and the 1949 lib­er­a­tion of Nan­jing. Such her­itage is now housed on gor­geous grounds, mak­ing this seat of his­toric drama a des­ti­na­tion for leisurely strolls.

The city’s main bar street is lined by 17 build­ings bear­ing ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments from the Repub­lic of China pe­riod (1912-49) nes­tled among four mod­ern plazas.

DAY 2

This pic­turesque park was a royal gar­den for sev­eral dy­nas­ties from the third to sixth cen­turies. To­day, it’s a fa­vorite for jog­gers. It claims to be the only park of its kind south of the Yangtze River.

The 20-me­ter-high walls that wrap roughly 250 me­ters around a Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) city built upon the ru­ins of an East­ern Jin Dy­nasty (317420) palace con­tinue to of­fer stun­ning views. Vis­i­tors pray for bless­ings while fac­ing the Jim­ing Tem­ple.

The Yangtze River mas­sages three sides of Lion (Shizi) Moun­tain’s foot, while a Ming-era city wall snug­gles into the other side.

Pavil­ions, can­non and tem­ples are perched atop the 14-hectare peak, which also hosts a for­est of stone ste­les.

DAY 3

The Niushou Moun­tain Re­sort lures Bud­dhist pil­grims and scenery seek­ers. Mas­sive re­li­gious stat­ues stand in a set­ting that looks like a land­scape paint­ing.

Pa­tri­o­tism takes a prom­i­nent place in Yuhu­atai, where 1.5 square kilo­me­ters are cov­ered with struc­tures com­mem­o­rat­ing mar­tyrs.

The ter­rain also pro­duces yuhuashi, or “rain-flower stone”, gem­stones, which are re­port­edly only found in Nan­jing, and yuhua tea — a dif­fer­ent kind of trea­sure.

Leg­end says the gods show­ered the beau­ti­ful peb­bles upon the area be­cause they were moved by the de­vo­tion of an an­cient monk, who preached there for three days without eat­ing or drink­ing. Gas­tron­omy says the tea leaves are among the world’s best.

Dabaoen’s 80-me­ter-high Porce­lain Tower was baiju, in­scribed on many ver­sions of the Seven Won­ders of the Mid­dle Ages list but didn’t sur­vive to later ages.

How­ever, many of the sur­round­ing struc­tures did.

The com­pound was built on the foun­da­tions of the de­stroyed Jianchu Tem­ple in 1412 and claims to be the most an­cient re­li­gious site of its kind.

It’s also huge. Dabaoen Tem­ple con­tains over 30 cab­ins and about 150 monas­ter­ies.

Boats, gar­den cul­ture and folk cus­toms en­er­gize the Qin­huai River. It hosts a Con­fu­cian tem­ple, night mar­ket and lantern fair. It’s a per­fect place to en­joy Nan­jing’s go-with-the-flow mo­men­tum.

Con­tact the writer at yangfeiyue@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Nan­jing’s cui­sine is in­formed by its op­por­tune ge­og­ra­phy — es­pe­cially its prox­im­ity to the Yangtze.

Its clement cli­mate and lo­ca­tion in the mas­sive river’s reaches sheathes it with rich earth that nur­tures a cornucopia of food­stuffs.

Lo­cals ven­er­ate fresh­ness and knife work.

Fla­vor bal­ances and crispyet-ten­der tex­tures are en­sured by the promi­nence of stew­ing, sim­mer­ing and roast­ing as fa­vored cook­ing meth­ods.

Many dishes, likes reeves shad, hail back six cen­turies.

Its duck dates to 1,400 years ago.

Nan­jing’s ducks’ di­ets are largely ce­re­als, which are said to make their flesh ten­der.

And be­cause of the re­gion’s largely aquatic ter­rain, the water­fowl serves as a sta­ple. It’s roasted, dried and salted, and brine­soaked. Its blood is made into a soup that’s a culi­nary call­ing card of the city.

Chopped, brine-soaked duck is an­other iconic del­i­cacy made from birds sim­mered and hung to dry for three days. Bones slip off the flesh, mak­ing the skele­ton less an ob­sta­cle than one may ex­pect.

A panoramic view of Niushou Moun­tain; Fod­ing Palace on Niushou Moun­tain; per­form­ers of Nan­jing a kind of tra­di­tional lo­cal nar­ra­tive singing with a his­tory of more than 700 years; Taicheng, the 20-me­ter-high walls built in the Ming Dy­nasty; Pres­i­den­tial Palace with a statue of Sun Yat-sen.

Other fa­vored meats in­clude beef, chicken and pork. Crab roe and shrimp fea­ture heav­ily in aqua­cul­ture.

An­other sig­na­ture dish is pan-fried beef dumplings packed with minced meat, spring onions and gin­ger.

They’re fried on one side and then boiled un­til the water evap­o­rates, pro­duc­ing a ten­der top and crispy base.

Some up­scale restau­rants have made a point of serv­ing set cour­ses in spe­cific or­ders to en­sure that cus­tomers get a full taste of lo­cal gas­tron­omy.

That said, the cui­sine has re­cently ab­sorbed el­e­ments from other places, while its reach si­mul­ta­ne­ously ra­di­ates fur­ther across the coun­try and world.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The Thou­sand-Bud­dha Hall is among the tem­ples on Niushou Moun­tain, a place of pil­grim­age for Buddhists.

Clock­wise from top:

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Pan-fried beef dumplings, one of the sig­na­ture dishes of Nan­jing.

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