ISLE OF THE FAIRIES
This sight ‘Three Pools Mirroring the Moon’ is on an isle called Xiaoyingzhou (Isle of the Fairies), the biggest in Outer West Lake.
About two kilometers from Hubin Lu by water route, the isle has an area of seven hectares, 60 percent of which are taken up by water surface. It was made in 1607, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) with mud dredged from the lake. Circular embankments were thrown up around it later, creating the beguiling scene of ‘an isle in a lake, and a lake in an isle’.

On this piece of land are the Former Temple of Worthies of the Past and such landscape structures as the Kaiwang (Open Net) Pavilion, the Tingting Pavilion, the Yingcui (Verdure-Heralding) Pavilion, the Flower-and-Bird Hall, the Imperial Stele Pavilion, and the Woxinxiangyin (My Affinity) Pavilion. Other samples of Chinese gardening art include the Nine-Lion Rock, man-made hillocks, rockeries, low walls and stone bridges. From north to south, the Nine-Bend Bridge links the different decorative buildings on the isle. The various trees and flowers including the multi-colored water-lilies make the whole site a prototype for landscape gardening in south China, which combines garden, water surface and flora into a harmonious entirety.

In the lake in the southern section of the isle are three stone pagodas built in 1621, during the Ming Dynasty. Each of these hollow structures has five equally distanced holes in it. Standing at the center of the dock off the Pavilion of My Affinity, one can get a glimpse of the lake water through two seemingly overlapping holes in the three pagodas. The sight is particularly captivating on a moonlit night when ‘a full moon produces three reflections on the lake’. Hence the name of the place, which is most frequented by those who want to best enjoy a moonlit scene.