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Nanjing stories

By Chitralekha Basu and Song Wenwei (China Daily)

11:01, May 18, 2012

(Photo from China Daily)

The city is replete with history. But, our reporters, Chitralekha Basu and Song Wenwei, were intrigued by much more.

Every evening feels like Christmas Eve at the four-point crossing at Xinjiekou. The place is awash with lights. Streams of illumination pour down the sides of the towering chrome-and-glass structures. Giant digital display boards play advert clips, showcasing multinational brands in endless reruns.

Store windows glow like expecting mothers, panting yet happy under the staggering weight of merchandize. Headlights from fast-moving vehicles incessantly crisscross.

This could well be passed off as an image of a bustling shopping or commercial hub in any modern metropolis, anywhere in the world.

What gives Nanjing's identity away is Sun Yat-sen's sculpture standing at the intersection, dressed in Western formals. The "father of modern China" spearheaded the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, leading to the country's liberation from monarchy and anointing Nanjing as the capital of the Republic of China in 1912. He appears to look over the steady stream of traffic and pedestrians with authority and detachment.

Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum

The marble sculpture in his mausoleum wears a slightly more solemn look. He is seated on a high pedestal, in the Sacrificial Hall, atop the Aztec pyramid-style structure in the Zhong Mountain scenic area, 20 km east of downtown Nanjing.

Sun is clad in a traditional Chinese "changpao", or long-gown, here. A scroll rests on his knees. But his gaze is directed forward, taking in, it seems, the entire length of the north-south axis, running vertically down the 80,000 square meter park dedicated to his memory.

The road to this shrine is through a triple-arched gate, flanked on either side by rows of pines, cypresses and gingko trees. The words inscribed on the frontispiece reads, "What is under heaven is for all" - the great man's pronouncement on the principles of egalitarianism.

A white star set against a blue backdrop, a design borrowed from the Kuomintang flag, glows from the center of the ceiling.

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