Putuo district offers a slice of island life

Putuo district offers a slice of island life

In the easternmost part of Zhejiang province there is an archipelago district formed of 455 islands. Putuo district, part of Zhoushan city, boasts breathtaking scenery that attracts millions of tourists every year.

Weather in Putuo is humid year round with clear air that ranked second best in the Chinese mainland in the first half of this year. When residents in North China suffer from smog and haze they often go to Putuo to escape the pollution.

Embraced by the East China Sea, Putuo represents a variety of aspects of China's sea culture. It is home to Putuo Mountain, the country's largest worshiping area to Kwan-yin, also known as Guanyin Bodhisattva. Zhujiajian is known as the cradle of sand-sculpting in China and Shenjiamen fishery port offers people the chance to taste hundreds of varieties of seafood. Also, the area's 455 islands showcase hundreds of different types of scenery.

Of all the attractions, Putuo Mountain is the most well known. It is one of the four sacred Buddhism mountains in China and has welcomed visitors for thousands of years. History records showed that the earliest worshipers came to Putuo in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). Today, Buddhists from regions including Shanghai, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines come to the mountain to wish for blessings from Kwan-yin.

There are three temples and more than 20 tourism sites in the mountain area, all related to Buddhism culture. The mountain is located on a 12.5 sq km island with views of the ocean, temples, cliffs, caves and sandy shores. The island is regarded as one of the most peaceful places in China.

Putuo Mountain is an ideal place to escape city hustle and bustle and enjoy peace and tranquillity but in contrast, Zhujiajian is a lively place with beaches full of activities.

One beach, Nansha, is home to China's sand-sculpture art. Since Zhoushan city introduced sand sculpture into China in 1999, the art form has become a representative symbol of the city. It is also a driving force of the city's tourism and cultural industries.

Ding Wenxi, deputy manager of Zhoushan International Sand Sculpture Co, said that the annual number of tourists in Nansha rose to 4 million last year from 400,000 in 1999. Tourism income contributed more than 1.5 billion yuan ($245 million) to the city's GDP in 2013. The total GDP of Zhoushan was 93.09 billion yuan.

Every September, sand-sculptors from around the world gather in Nansha and get to work in the sand. Their sculptures are maintained on the beach until a new group of artists start afresh the following year.

Apart from the sand sculptures, water sports including sea fishing and sailing are also popular in Zhujiajian.

Shenjiamen fishery port is China's largest natural fishery port and it was listed among the world's top three, together with Bergen port of Norway and Callao port of Peru.

When night falls, the 5 km port lined with fishing boats waiting to sail out is lit up like shining stars.

Restaurants standing beside the port offer fresh seafood to customers, who can dine by the waterfront and enjoy the sea breeze.

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