Erhai Lake and Erhai Park
Erhai Lake, also known as Yeyu Pond, Xi'er River and Kunmi River in old times, is named after its shape and expanse. "Er" in Chinese means a human ear and "Hai" means a sea, hence its name Erhai. It is one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China and the largest highland lake next to Dianchi Lake (in Kunming). So it was called "Plateau Pearl". The dimension is 41.5 km. by 6.9 km. It starts from Jiangwei of Eryuan County in the north and ends at Xiaguan in the south. The total storage capacity is 3 billion cubic metres and its elevation 1,972 metres.
Erhai Lake is a barrier lake formed after a fault foundering of the earth's crust. It originates in Heigushan Mountain of Er'yuan. The water mainly comes from the Miju River and Luoshi River in Er'yuan County, the 18 brooks of Cangshan in the west, and the Boluo River, Fengwei Brook, Yulong Gully and Shitou Brook in the southeast, which converge into a mighty torrent and then flow into Erhai Lake. After that, it again flows into the Lancangjiang River by passing through Tianshengqiao (Natural Bridge) of Xiaguan, where a multistage power station of medium size stand, and the Yangbi River in the west over a distance of more than 20 km.
The beautiful scenery and limpid waters of Erhai Lake are charming and attractive. On the boundless expanse of the lake, there are steamers, sailing boats, flying birds, the Three Islets, the Four Sand Bars, the Five Miniature Lakes and the Nine Curvatures, with their reflections in the placid water, accompanied by Bai girls in bright-coloured costumes on the shore or in fishing boats singing the praises of their life. The picturesque scenery makes you feel relaxed and happy. The white snow over the green Cangshan Mountain and the limpid water of Erhai Lake have earned Dali the fame of "Jade Erhai and Silver Cangshan." During a clear night, the moon is mirrored in the lake and people call it the "Erhai Moon" which is one of the four best sights of Dali. It would be a great pity if people travelling to Dali do not go for a boat ride in the lake, just like people travelling to Kunming without having a glance at the scenery of Xishan (the Western Hills).
The Scene of Shuanglang
Shuanglang (double Corridors) locates at the northeast shore of Erhai Lake. It is famous because of two beaches. Lianhua and Luoshi. This two beaches look like two corridors so that they are named after their shapes. Sand here is bright and clear, as soft as a piece of cotton. Looking at the lake from here, one can see the endless lake surface, so green and so clear, with wave reflecting sunshine. The white clouds are above the lake with white sails coming south and going north. The most beautiful islands, Yuji Island (or Tianshengying) and Shuanglang Jinsuo Island, look like a pair of mandarin ducks, floating still on the surface of the lake. If one looks up, one can see 19 peaks of Cangshan Mountain with green trees, standing erect, as high as if they touch the sky. Their shadows are reflected in the lake, looking so stately and solemnly. A picture so charming , so grandiose that one will not want to leave.
Erhai Park is located at Tuanshan Mountain, 2.5km away from Xianguan. It was once a royal deer ranch of the Nanzhao Kingdom. Built in 1976, the park covers 1700 mu of land. Climbing along the path up to the mountain, one can see green pine trees, famous flowers like camellia, magnolia primose, michelia alba and azalea. On the top are the Observation Pavilion and the Long Corridor overlooking the lake, the zoo and the garden. Standing high on the top, one will have a pleasant view of the jade-like Erhai Lake dotted with sails here and there and the silvery Cangshan Mountain. At the shore, there are entertainment facilities such as the aqua park, swimming area, etc. On a clear night, when the moon is mirrored on the lake, one will enjoy one of the most magnificent sights (Wind, Flower, Snow and Moon)-the Erhai Moon in Dali.
The Little Putuo Island
Inside the Erhai Lake, there is a tiny island existing with tones of
fames – The Little Putuo.
The little Putuo is an island composed by limestone. Because of its round seal shape, Chinese named here as “hai-yin”, literally translated as “seal of the sea”. It is legendized there were always some storms and big waves appear because of the flood dragon stay around the Erhai Lake; while the Guanyin (Goddess of Buddha) make use of this “seal” to control the dragon. Fishermen who lived around the little Putuo then build up this 2-story pavilion on the small island and consecrate the statue of Guanyin, which is the reason why people also named the Little Putuo as “Guanyin Ge” (Guanyin Pavilion).
On the East of the Little Putuo, there is a natural harbor named “Baishiqu” close-by the Erhai shore. The villagers lived around the harbor are mainly Bai minority people. Today, they are still keeping their Bai minority traditional customs. Occasionally you can see some villagers reach the island by swimming since the distance between the village and Little Putuo Island is just 130 meters.
Jinsuodao Island (Golden Shuttle Island)
Jinsuodao (Golden Shuttle Island), also called the Island of the Sea, lies in the southeast part of Erhai Lake and stands far apart opposite the Erhai Park at a distance. Lying 13 km. away from Xiaguan Harbour, it is one of the scenic spots for a boat ride in the lake. The island is 1,500 metres in length and 20 m. to 500 m. in width. The west is wide and the middle is narrow, so it looks like a shuttle or floating calabash, hence its name. The island is full of caverns and precipitious cliffs. The "Annals of Yunnan" by Fan Zhuo, a historian, recorded that: "The island lies in the centre of the lake, and is embraced by water on the four sides.
It was cool and comfortable in summer, and was a summer resort of the royal family of Nanzhao Kingdom." The island is inhabited by the Bai people whose professions are fishing and water transportation. Rocks are used in building their walls and grey-coloured bricks are dominantly used in building their houses. In front of the gate there is a screen wall. The courtyard, decorated with trees and flowers, gives a graceful atmosphere. The island commands a wide view of the lake with Cangshan Mountain as the beautiful background. It is on the island that one can taste the flavour of "fresh fish cooked in fresh water" in the style of the Bai nationality.