Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai Tour Guide:
Venture into one of the most fascinating classical gardens of Shanghai. Yuyuan Garden, or the Garden of Contentment in English, delights the passerby, tourists and locals alike with its fantastic array of halls, pavilions, cloisters, courtyards and water features interspersed with lush greenery and enclosed within an undulating dragon wall.
Dating back to the late 16th century, these gardens were commissioned originally by a Ming Dynasty official as a peaceful retreat for his aging parents. Although, the number of visitors thronging the gardens in the present age makes it far from peaceful, one can still see the exquisite grandeur of these gardens, which were the largest and most prestigious gardens in Shanghai in its heyday.
A gigantic dragonhead greets you at the gate and its undulating back encloses the entire complex, which makes a visit to the garden, a literal ‘Enter the dragon’ feel. Once inside, check out the 30-feet high Sansui Hall, the largest and most commodious of all structures in the garden with features such as wood beam carvings representing a plentiful harvest and fine windows.
Cross over to the Yangshan Hall, a two-storey tower with graceful upturned eaves that serves as the entrance and viewing hall of the Grand Rockery, just beyond, a 46 feet high mountain-like formation of over 2000 rare yellow stones. In its heyday, the rockery was the highest point of Shanghai, a title taken over by new skyscrapers every few years. Climb to the top and you can enjoy a picturesque view of the garden landscape.
Marvel at the vase-shaped doorframes of Jian Ru Jia Jing; check out the gold fish frolicking in a stream from Yule Pavilion and enjoy the picturesque setting created by the cloisters, spring bamboos and some of the garden’s original trees that are as old as the garden itself – over 5 centuries old from the Wanhua Pavilion.
Do not miss the Yu Ling Long or the Exquisite Jade Rock, a magnificent honeycomb slab of Jade with as many as 70 holes. Incense lit at the bottom of the rock makes the rock spout whirling smoke and water poured from above makes it spout water from all its holes.
A major highlight of the Yuyuan Garden, the Exquisite Jade Rock was reportedly meant for the Emperor who procured it from Lake Tai, a lake where rocks were submerged to be naturally carved into different shapes by the strong currents. However, a shipwreck changed the destiny of the rock and brought it to this garden. The Yuhua Hall right opposite the rock was purpose built as a viewing area for the rock.