Suzhou Humble Adminstrator’s Garden and Tiger Hill

In addition to its many canals, Suzhou is famous as one of the major centers of classical Chinese gardens. Perhaps the largest and best known is the Humble Administrator’s Garden.

The garden is about 13 acres and about 500 years old (at least one site suggests it is exactly 500 years old, having been built in 1509). The “humble administrator” was a government official Wang Xianchen, who clearly could not have been that humble with a spread like this. It is interesting to note that gardens such as these were almost always private, and the idea of maintaining them is relatively recent.

The elements of the garden include the plants, water, architecture (much of it the more minimalist and geometric Ming Dynasty style) and rocks, such as the lakebed rocks in the photo above. The natural and geometric elements fuse in a way that seems very fresh and modern, and one can see where many twentieth century artists, architects and designers may have gotten their inspiration.

This is the sort of place where I could easily get lost in the visual elements for a long time.

But of course we had to move on. We next visited one of Suzhou’s other well-known landmarks, Tiger Hill. The highest point in the city, Tiger Hill was originally the site of a king’s tomb, and later a Buddhist monastery and temple.

Although this photo makes the pagoda at the top of the hill look perfectly straight, it is actually leaning quite strongly to one side:

Supposedly, it is the many attempts over the years to locate and excavate the tomb in the hill that has led to the weakening of the ground below the tower and its severe tilt. The entrance to the tomb was finally discovered in the 1960s in pool lower on the hillside during a sever drought. However, it has remained unexcavated, lest the tower tilt even further.

The top of the hill supposedly provides a spectacular view of Suzhou, but with the dense winter fog I was not able to see very much.

8 thoughts on “Suzhou Humble Adminstrator’s Garden and Tiger Hill

  1. The photos really seem like they just came out of a classic Chinese movie.I can almost hear the Chinese soundtrack playing. I guess you must have a great time exploring the history of China. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Stunning! What a great opportunity for you, and what a vicarious opportunity for us to experience it through your photos and words.

  3. If I can take pictures half as good as you, Amar, I’d be very happy. These pics are ‘postcard quality’. Actually, better than that – they are good enough to be in books and galleries, much like your other pics.

    I’m always amazed in how these historic buildings and sites can be maintained, esp. when they’re outdoors, and subject to various harsh weather.

  4. Truth is, for every good photo, there is usually at least one or two lousy ones (sometimes more). The Humble Administrator’s Garden was an exceptional subject in that I have few if any “bad” photos.

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