Now, standing on the bank of the Yangtze River at the Tianmen Mountain Scenic Spot in Wuhu City, Anhui Province, it seems difficult to associate the scene in front of you with the magnificent scenery of Li Bai’s poem “The Tianmen Gate interrupts the opening of the Chu River”. In the evening, when you climb up and look at it, the afterglow of the setting sun reflects the sparkling light on the river. The busy boats on the river and the Maanshan Yangtze River Bridge at the end of the sight in the distance reflect each other, and the melodious siren sound reflects the loneliness of the scenic spot.
If not mentioned deliberately, I’m afraid few people know that the Tianmen Mountain mentioned in Li Bai’s “Looking at Tianmen Mountain” is located in Wuhu. “Anhui is rich in poetry and prose resources, but the development of scenic spots is relatively backward. In fact, the familiar names in ancient poems such as Jingting Mountain, Tianmen Mountain, Taohuatan are all in Anhui.” Hu Chuanzhi, a professor at the Chinese Poetics Research Center of Anhui Normal University, said with an indelible disappointment. Recently, at the call of Hu Chuanzhi and others, Anhui Province proposed to build the “Anhui Poetry Road Cultural Corridor”, create the “Southern Anhui Landscape Poetry Road”, “Wanjiang Poetry Road”, “Central Anhui Poetry Road” and “Huaihe Poetry Road”, and want to activate the sleeping cultural resources and explore new development paths.
Zhejiang was the first to “eat crabs” to build a cultural belt along the way of poetry. As early as 2018, the Zhejiang Provincial Government’s work report listed “building the road of Tang poetry in eastern Zhejiang and the road of Tang poetry in Qiantang River” as an important measure. In October of the same year, counties (cities and districts) along the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang, such as Xiaoshan, Yuecheng, Keqiao, Shangyu, Shengzhou, Xinchang, Tiantai, Xianju and Linhai, issued a collaborative initiative to jointly build the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang. In 2019, Zhejiang Province also put forward the idea of “linking poetry with literature” and “linking roads with belts”, which painted the Tang poetry road, the Grand Canal poetry road, the Qiantang River poetry road, and the Oujiang River landscape poetry road in eastern Zhejiang, and listed “building the golden tourism belt of the Tang poetry road” as the key content of Zhejiang’s “overall tourism promotion project”.
In recent years, taking the construction of the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang as an opportunity, Shaoxing, Taizhou, Ningbo and other places have accelerated the integration of culture and tourism, and a number of high-quality cultural scenic spots have emerged. In particular, the opening of the Hangzhou-Taiwan high-speed railway at the beginning of this year opened the last link of this poetic road from the traffic level. However, although “poetry and distance” is beautiful, the construction and promotion of poetry road is still difficult.
Deep cultural tour quietly heats up
Zhejiang has a long history of thinking about poetry. In 1991, Zhu Yuebing, a scholar in Xinchang, Shaoxing, first proposed the concept of “the road of Tang poetry”. Zhu Yuebing pointed out that the ancient people’s tourism mainly depended on water, and when the water was exhausted, they would climb mountains and sing songs, while the Xijiang Canal extending in all directions, such as Cao’e River, Puyang River and Yongjiang River, provided people with the convenience of traveling around the world. Among them, Shaoxing, through Cao’e River to Shanxi (a section of Shengzhou and Xinchang today), is the most famous, leaving a large number of popular poems, forming the “road of Tang poetry”. In July 1993, the Tang Dynasty Literature Society of China held the “Tang Poetry Road Academic Seminar” in Xinchang, which affirmed the academic value, heritage value and practical significance of the “Tang Poetry Road”, and officially named it “Tang Poetry Road in Eastern Zhejiang”.
“At that time, there was no resources for tourism in Xinchang. It was all supported by a large Buddhist temple.” Ma Jun, secretary of the Youth League Working Committee of Xinchang County Tourism Group, told reporters that Zhu Yuebing initiated the road of poetry in the Tang Dynasty in eastern Zhejiang to promote tourism around Zhejiang with Xinchang as the center. “At that time, Zhu Yuebing also proposed to build a number of tourism loop lines with Xinchang as the center, connecting Ningbo, Taizhou and other places, and finally attracting tourists to eat and live in Xinchang.” Ma Jun believed that the early road of Tang poetry in eastern Zhejiang was an exploration of tourism marketing, both academic research and project construction were to support tourism.
After the road of Tang poetry was put forward, it immediately caused heated discussion in the academic circle. In 1991 alone, more than 20 well-known experts and scholars at home and abroad organized a team to conduct field visits, and jointly wrote letters to the governments of Shaoxing, Ningbo, Taizhou and Jinhua, proposing to explore rich cultural landscape resources, make full use of the circular tourism line formed by ancient waterways, and develop the “Tang Poetry Road” tourism project. Since then, the tourism departments of cities along the line have also followed up and made articles, but it is not good to ask for seats. Up to 2001, the road of Tang poetry in eastern Zhejiang has not become a hot tourist route in China, and no travel agency has even officially launched it.
However, with the rapid development of the domestic tourism market, the single landscape tourism has turned to the more profound cultural tourism with richer connotation, and the demand for “cultural IP” has quietly increased everywhere. For example, Li Bai’s poem “Sleeping in Tianmu and Singing Farewell” once made Tianmu Mountain, which was originally the same color as the mountains, a hundred times more valuable. To promote tourism, Xinchang, Tiantai and Xianju once fought a “war of words” for Tianmu Mountain. Among them, Xinchang, which is certified as the “Tianmu Mountain National Scenic Spot”, has the most confidence. However, Tiantai and Xianju are not far behind. They have successively found relevant evidence from ancient literature and tried to compete for influence. For a time, the ownership of Tianmu Mountain was hyped up, but its contribution to the tourism industry had little effect.
Until now, the ownership of Tianmu Mountain is still uncertain, but the voice of controversy is gradually calming down. Fei Weiyuan, deputy director of the Tiantai County Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Tourism and Sports, said that competition in cooperation has become a consensus. For example, Tiantai currently advocates the destination of the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang, and Xinchang is the essence of the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang. Although the formulation is different, the focus is to build the brand of “The Road of Tang Poetry in Eastern Zhejiang”. Looking back, the concept of poetry road in the Tang Dynasty in eastern Zhejiang rose from Xinchang, but the construction of poetry road is not only the development and utilization of one point and one place, but also requires overall consideration and overall planning to break regional restrictions and local concepts.
Not only “admission fees for scenic spots”
In 2018, the work report of the Zhejiang Provincial Government proposed for the first time “to build the road of Tang poetry in eastern Zhejiang and the road of Tang poetry in Qiantang River”. In June of the same year, the “Action Plan for the Construction of Large Gardens in Zhejiang Province” was issued, and “Building the Golden Tourism Belt along the Road of Tang Poetry” was listed as one of the ten landmark projects for the construction of large gardens. The next year, the Development Plan of Zhejiang Shilu Cultural Belt was issued, planning to form a construction plan of “four poetry roads”, and planned to invest 2 billion yuan in the construction of poetry roads, improve the infrastructure along the line, and drive the development of surrounding towns. With the support of the top-level design, the construction of the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang was really active.
For example, there are more scenic spots along the line. Taking the cultural construction of Shilu as an opportunity, Tiantai built the Great Falls scenic area as a landmark project and built the “first double-span glass bridge in East China” with a length of 320 meters. The total fall of Tiantai Mountain Waterfall is 325 meters. It is known as “the highest waterfall in China”. “Chicheng is built with the rising clouds, and the waterfall flies to the boundary” has written the magnificent momentum of the waterfall. In April 2020, after the resumption of construction for many years, the Great Falls Scenic Area opened to operation, with the maximum number of tourists per day exceeding 20000, and the total number of tourists received throughout the year exceeding 600000. In less than a year, the ticket revenue exceeded 100 million yuan, becoming the youngest 100-million-level scenic spot in Zhejiang Province, driving tourism revenue of about 500 million yuan that year.
It is not just “building scenic spots” to build the brand of “Road of Tang Poetry in Eastern Zhejiang”. “The construction of Shilu is a systematic project and a starting point for local development and project construction.” Fei Weiyuan told the reporter that in the past, Tiantai was rich in tourism resources, but it lacked explosive points, and there was no clear brand for a long time. In the past two years, the cultural and tourism industry of Tiantai has undergone new changes, with a clear theme and more sophisticated construction and marketing. “The mode of collecting tickets by building scenic spots alone has become outdated. Now we should pay attention to accuracy and customization in tourism, and launch various types of tourism products such as research, homestay and health care for consumers with different needs.” Fei Weiyuan said.
After shelving the dispute, the group development has become an inevitable choice. Reporters often feel the delicate relationship between Xinchang and Tiantai in their conversations with local people. For example, the “essence place” and “destination” of the Tang poetry road in eastern Zhejiang, the Great Buddhist Temple and Guoqing Temple, Tianmu Mountain and Tiantai Mountain, etc., all have a sense of tit for tat benchmarking. However, under the framework of the construction of the Tang Poetry Road in eastern Zhejiang, the competitive relationship between the two places seems to be weakened. At the beginning of this year, the Hangzhou-Taiwan high-speed railway was opened to traffic. Some experts pointed out that after Tianmu Mountain and Tiantai Mountain are connected by high-speed railway, the connection will be closer. In the future, there should be no difference between “Shaoxing” and “Taizhou” in tourism planning.
Shilu culture has unique charm
Some people also put forward that for a long time, it is necessary to make great efforts to build the road of poetry in the Tang Dynasty in eastern Zhejiang Province, which is “good or bad”? This is also the reporter’s question. In interviews in Zhejiang, Anhui and other places, each reporter will ask the other party a question: “What do you think is the goal of the construction of the poetry road?” Most interviewees will be stunned, and then start a grand narrative about the “integration of culture and tourism”. Among them, Ma Jun’s answer is quite interesting. He believes that the construction of the poetic road bears the mission of bringing traditional culture into the minds of more people. The reporter teased him: “Will it be pulled too high at once?”
Ma Jun pointed out to reporters that they might as well follow the ancient path and follow the footsteps of their predecessors and go back to the “road of Tang poetry”. The scenery of Tianmu Mountain is very beautiful. It lingers along the winding mountain road, with light white clouds winding around the mountains and floating in the wind between the ridges and tree tops. Besides the beautiful scenery, the villagers in the countryside are even more impressive. Today, in most villages, there are only elderly people left behind. On the way, the reporter met an old man in the village who was telling the passers-by oral allusions to Tang poems. Seeing that the reporter was interested, the old man said it again from the beginning. There is also an old woman with white hair. Hearing that the reporter came to walk the road of Tang poetry again, she excitedly told me that this was the way Li Bai walked. When talking about Li Bai, her tone was like talking about a familiar relative. She also recited “Sleepwalking Tianmu Chanting Farewell” in Xinchang dialect.
“The familiarity with poetry and the recognition of traditional culture are rooted in the memory of many people. This kind of memory may only be a few words written down when reciting the text as a child, but it will take root and sprout over time.” Han Zhenjun, a professor of the Chinese Poetics Research Center of Anhui Normal University, believes that it is this sense of familiarity passed down from generation to generation that has created the unique charm of the poetic culture.
This is true. In Jinghu Park in Wuhu, the reporter met a grandmother who led her grandson to carefully observe the statues in the park. When she found the statue of Zhang Xiaoxiang, she smiled and told her grandson about Zhang Xiaoxiang’s life, his relationship with Wuhu, and the poems she had written. The little boy who was still alive and kicking a second ago quickly calmed down and listened carefully to the story. “You see, this is the mass base. Our poetry road construction must give full play to the power of the public,” Han Zhenjun said.
Hu Chuanzhi believed that Anhui should not only learn from the experience of Zhejiang, but also explore the connection and connection between Zhejiang and Anhui in the long run. He gave examples to reporters. For example, Lu You is from Shaoxing, and he has traveled in southern Anhui and left many poems. He can write travel articles around Lu You’s footprints; In addition, Li Bai’s poem “He will join hands in the new year and shake the boat into Xin’an” once connected the origin of the Qiantang River poetry road in Zhejiang and the landscape poetry road in southern Anhui.
From a broader perspective, the Yangtze River Delta has a profound cultural heritage. Zhejiang and Anhui are promoting the construction of the Shilu Cultural Belt, Jiangsu is striving to build the Grand Canal Cultural Belt, and Shanghai has Jiangnan Culture. In the future, it may be possible to integrate the poetic resources in various parts of the Yangtze River Delta and create a cultural brand of the Yangtze River Delta poetic road similar to “poetry and painting in the south of the Yangtze River”.