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Lion Grove Garden

Lion Grove Garden, situated on the road to Loumen Garden, is one of the four most famous and representative gardens of ancient classical style in Suzhou City.

Lion Grove Garden was first built in 1342 during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 AD) by Monk Tianru and other Zen Buddhist disciples as a memorial to their master, Monk Zhong Feng. The garden was named because Zhong Feng once lived at Lion Cliff at the Xitianmu Mountains in Zhejiang province, and in the garden were a large number of rocks shaped like lions. In its early years, the garden was famous as a place of retreat for painters and calligraphers. It was revived in 1918 by a wealthy industrialist named Mr. Pei, but was given to the State after the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Covering an area of about 10,000 square, Lion Grove Garden consists of 22 buildings, 25 tablets and plateaux, 71 steles, 23 brick carvings and five carved wooden screens, as well as many old pine and cypress trees. The garden is famous for its rockery, which is mostly made of limestone taken from Taihu lake. Reputed as the "Kingdom of Rockery", the rocks were piled up skillfully and ingeniously, and most of them look like lions in different postures and verves: playing, roaring, fighting, sleeping, or even dancing. It is said there were altogether nine stone lions standing in a row, but the ravages of time and the elements changed their shapes until those that remain now bear little resemblance to those animals. There are altogether 9 paths and 21 caverns cross among the steep peaks, sharp crags and narrow valleys made up by countless grotesque rocks.

Lion Grove Garden is also an ideal sightseeing site for ornamental pavilions and towers in different styles. True Delight Pavilion is said to be the most magnificent in Lion Grove Garden due to its royal style and tablet inscribed by the Qing Emperor, who visited the gardens six times, in 1765, wrote its plaque.

Shan Ting (Fan Pavilion) is so named for its fan-shaped windows and steps. From here one has a good view of all the buildings in the garden.

Wen Mei Ge (Plum Tower) used to be a place where painters and poets indited. In addition to the plum treesaround the pavilion, all the floors, windows, tables, chairs and utensils inside are decorated or carved with plum blossom designs.

Li Xue Tang (Standing-in-the-Snow Hall) came from a Buddhist story about a pure-hearted Zen adherent standing in snow for a whole night to wait for his teacher until his teacher woke up.

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