Qiandao Lake or Lake of the Thousand Islands is located in Zhejiang, China, about 150 kilometers from the city of Hangzhou. It is an artificial lake formed after the completion of the Xin’an River station hydropower. In 1959 to build the reservoir Xin’anjiang the valley was flooded with water resulting from a lake or reservoir 573 km square area and a storage capacity of 17.8 cubic kilometers. The lake is so called because it is dotted with 1,078 large islands and several thousand smaller through it.
Qiandao Lake, known for its clear waters and sometimes drinking is used to produce the famous brand of mineral water spring Nongfu. It is also home to the lush forests (90%), and exotic islands. Lately, it has been transformed into a tourist site with themed islands that include Bird Island, Snake Island, Monkey Island, Lock Island (featuring supposedly the world’s largest lock), and the island for you remember your childhood.
But what lies beneath the lake is perhaps more interesting and worthy than the lake itself.
Before the valley was flooded, he stood at the foot of the mountain Wu Shi (Five Lion Mountain) two magnificent ancient cities – Shi Cheng and Cheng He. Shi Cheng was built over 1300 years in 621 AD under the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was once the center of politics, economy and culture. Cheng He is even older: established in 208 AD under the Han Dynasty (AD 25-200) as a business center along the river Xin’anjiang.
Cheng Cheng Shi as He and drowned in September 1959, when the Chinese government decided that it needed a new hydroelectric plant and a reservoir to feed the growing population in the city of Hangzhou. With the two ancient cities, 27 cities, 1,377 towns, nearly 50,000 hectares of farmland and thousands of homes were flooded. About 290,000 people have been displaced by the project. The total apathy of the government towards the preservation of ancient cities is shocking.
Cities and He Cheng Cheng Shi remained forgotten for 40 years until 2001, when Qiu Feng, a local official in charge of tourism, discussed ways to provide entertainment on the Qiandao Lake with a diving Beijing-based . He thought of using cities and asked if they could dive divers in the water and have a look.
September 18, 2001, the first attempt was made to reach the city. « We got lucky. As soon as we plunged into the lake, we found the outer wall of the city and even picked up a brick, « Qiu said in an interview. Qiu quickly reported his discovery to the local government. Besides the research was conducted, it was discovered that the entire city submerged for decades, was intact. Even the wooden beams and staircases have been preserved.
In 2005, the local tourism department has discovered three ancient cities under water. January 7, 2011, the old cities were assessed as relics at provincial level. In the following month, the Chinese National Geographic magazine printed photos of the city. Local governments were delighted, but the problem of how to preserve the ancient towns remained.
Some have suggested the construction of a seawall and pumping water out of the city. However, this method is expensive, and the walls are unable to maintain the pressure.
It was then suggested that the submerged cities to be opened to tourists. A 23.6 meters high, 3.8 meters underwater with a capacity of 48 seats was built at a cost of 40 million yuan (6.36 million dollars) for visits underwater. But since it was completed in 2004, the submarine was never used. Local officials laws do not allow diving submarines in the waters. In addition, no rules regulating civil submarines. Although officially approved, the submarine could cause water runoff solids in water, which can damage buildings.
Some experts believe that the best thing to do now is nothing, because the technology is limited. « Prior to our use of cultural relics, we must protect, » said Fang Minghua, former director of the wealth management Chun’an County. He said that currently, the technology does not offer viable options.
Fang uses an example of two wooden beams of the ancient city gradually began to decline when they are out of their underwater environment and exposed to the air. The water provides better protection of wood, exposure to air increases the risk of damage. In addition, the walls are fragile and could collapse due to changes in water currents. Fang suggested that sailing, fishing, or sand digging in areas close should be prohibited.
At the end of 2002, the Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences has proposed the construction of a bridge Archimedes, also known as a tunnel suspended. Archimedes bridge is a difficult project. Seven countries are doing research on this subject for the moment, including Norway, Japan, Switzerland, Brazil and the United States. If the bridge Archimedes to Qiandao Lake is successful, it will be the first real bridge Archimedes in the world.