Tiger Hill (Huqiu) is probably the most famous sight of all in the city of Suzhou, and has a history that can be traced back over 2500 years.
According to the Records of the Historian, this is the spot where the King of Wu, Fu Chai, buried his father, He Lu, in 496 BC during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC), after He had perished in a war against the Yue.
It is also believed that 3,000 antique swords may have been buried alongside the old king, who was a keen collector – not to mention a thousand unfortunate laborers who were executed after building the tomb so that the location of the swords would be kept secret!
The legend goes that three days after the tomb was completed people found a white tiger sitting on top of it, and so from that time on the place has been known as Tiger Hill. Others say that the hill was given this name because it is the same shape as a crouching tiger.
Over successive dynasties, Tiger Hill underwent many changes as more and buildings and gardens were added and dynasties waxed and waned. During the Eastern Jin Dynasty, two brothers, Wang Xun and Wang Min, who were both court officials, built a villa on the hill, which was later converted into the Tiger Hill Buddhist Monastery.
At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, the temple was renamed as the Warrior Hill Monastery of Requited Benevolence, because the founder of the dynasty was named Li Hu (Hu means tiger) and it was forbidden to use the emperor’s name for ordinary purposes.
Under the Soong Dynasty, the name was changed once again to Cloud Crag Zen Monastery, and it was only during the Qing Emperor Kangxi’s reign that Tiger Hill regained its original name. Tiger Hill is an artificial mound that is 36 meters high and covers an area of 20 hectares, and according to the guide is known for its surviving temple, three “peerless views”, nine “scenes of enchantment”, and eighteen “outstanding scenic spots”. No wonder that the Song dynasty poet Su Dongpo once said that “to visit Suzhou without seeing Tiger Hill is truly a cause for regret.”
Before entering the Tiger Hill Park, you walk over a bridge to cross the canal. You can take a ride in a traditional boat from nearby here as well.