Zhangye, which is also called Ganzhou, lies in the middle of Hexi Corridor. It is an important part of the ancient Silk Road and belongs to the national historical and cultural city. It is close to Wuwei in the east and Jiuquan in the west. In 121 BC, in order to acquire its fame, the emperor of Qing Dynasty sent a general HuoQubing to Hexi to conquer the Huns (a tribe of people). After that, the Huns were named Zhangye.
This name came from that “Broke the arm of Huns and promote (Zhang) the center (Ye) of China”. Zhangye covers five counties and one city. They are Linze County, Gaotai County, Shandan County, Minle County, Sunan County and Zhangye City. It occupies 41,000 square kilometers and has a population of 1.17 million. The total area of Zhangye City is 4,240 square kilometers and the total population is 450,000.
Zhangye belongs to a continental climate. The weather is often dry and seldom rains. The annual average temperature is 6 centigrade. January is the coldest month and July is the hottest month. From June to September is the best time for tourist to travel.
The tourism in Zhangye is popular. Especially, the Great Buddhist Temple （大佛寺）and the Wooden Pagoda （木塔寺）are well-known.
The Great Buddhist Temple
The Great Buddha is located in the southeast part of Zhangye City. It was built in 1098 in Xixia. Its original name is Jiayerulaipian Temple (迦叶如来片寺), which is the largest temple in Gansu Province. Now there are three great buildings tourists can visit. They are Great Buddhist Temple, Cangjing Hall (藏经阁) and Tuta Tower (土塔). The great Buddhist Temple is 33 meters high. A Buddha which is made up of wood, soil and plastic lies in the temple. Its body is 34.5 meters long, the shoulder is 7.5 meters wide and its ears are over 2 meters long. This Buddha is said to be the largest lying Buddha in China. On both sides of the temple, there are 18 Buddhas (called Lohan (罗汉) in China).
On each side of the gate of temple is carved a 6-square-meter-wide brick. The left brick writes “Heavens” and “Western St. Mirror” and the right writes “To Morocco”. Some murals such as “Journey to the West (西游记)” and “The Book of Mountains and Seas (山海经)” are painted around the wall. Meanwhile, more than 6,000 volumes of Buddhist scriptures are kept well in it. Especially, the scriptures that were written by gold and silver powder are the most precious.
The Wooden Pagoda
The Wooden Pagoda is located in the south street of county of Zhangye City. Now it is in the Zhangye Middle School. Its original name is Wanshou Temple (万寿寺). This pagoda was first built in the Northern Zhou Dynasty. After the reconstruction of Sui, Tang, Ming and Qing Dynasties, now the existing wooden pagoda was built in 1926. It has nine floors.
The local people of Zhangye have their characteristic in clothing. The public officials often put on the Chinese Zhongshanzhuang (中山装), while the farmers put on the single cotton and kapok hand-woven clothes. The gentries who are rich often wear the silk coat in summer and the fur long gown in winter; women wear the Chinese-style garment made of cotton and kapok in summer and winter. The farmers near the mountain area put on the worn-out fur clothes and jackets in winter and the brown upper garment in spring and autumn; men who herd the cattle and sheep put on the thick woolen clothing.
The delicious food of Zhangye is very popular. Its snacks have a long history and offer many varieties. Since the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the traditional snacks are mainly made by powders, such as saozi noodles (臊子面), xiaofan (small rice 小饭), stewed pork (卤猪肉), yougao (油糕), hupo (糊泊), cuoyuzi (搓鱼子), niangpizi (酿皮子) and doufunao (豆腐脑). All these snacks are both low-cost and delicious. They are fit for the youth and the old. So now Zhangye snacks are famous inside and outside of Gansu province.
The Saozi noodle is the most popular breakfast in Gansu Province. It pays much attention to the noodle – “thin, light and refined”. It means the noodle is thin; the color is light; and the taste is good. Besides the noodles, the soup is also important. The best choice is chicken soup with some pepper and ginger. By adding some water starch and several bean curds can make the soup very tasty.
Around the Wooden Pagoda, tourists have a chance to taste some local food. Especially, the most famous street is “Hua-Yi snacks”. This street is similar to a grocery market. There are 30 – 40 small stores. You can taste various pasta, meat, and snacks.
In addition to the food, wine is also popular in Zhangye. There are mainly three types of wine: yellow wine, south liquor and rice liquor. Different wine has different functions. The yellow wine is used as sacrificial offerings or celebrating weddings; the south liquor can keep our stomachs healthy and has a little positive influence on women disease and rheumatism; the rice liquor to some extent can soften the arteries, so it’s useful to the old.
Wuwei Travel Guide (无为)
Wuwei County lies in the center of Anhui Province. It's closest to Yangtze River in the east and Chaohu Lake in the west. It belongs to Chaohu City with an area of 2,413 square kilometers. So far, the county has 23 townships with a total population of 1.395 million. In Wuwei County, there were many celebrities in the past, such as the hero DaiAnlan. This place is his homeland.
Golden Tower (黄金塔)
The Golden Tower is located in Phoenix Mountain in northeast of Wuwei County. It is an imitative wood house-brick tower with nine layers. It is 35 meters high and 3.4 meters wide. People can appreciate the whole scenery from any layers.
According to literature and investigation, Golden Tower was built in 998 AD in year of SongXianping. So far, it’s the earliest ancient tower in Gansu Province. In the early times of Northern Song, Buddhism flourished in Wuwei County. So at that time, many temples were established, Nantai Temple included. And then more and more towers were also built in these temples. Among them, Golden Tower formed a large-scale Buddhist building. However, as the time went by, only one tower was maintained. That’s the Golden Tower. Now Golden Tower has become an important cultural relics and tourist attraction.