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Sands of time reclaim Grand Canal

By Yao Minji   (Shanghai Daily)

10:44, January 16, 2013

This local river outside Suzhou in northern Anhui Province was once part of the Grand Canal. This segment of the stream, 25 kilometers long, is still in use. (Shanghai Daily)

Key Words:Grand Canal; Huaibei;Porcelain;history;culture;tourism

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The Grand Canal of China passed through northern Anhui Province but virtually all has been buried. Only 25 kilometers have been identified by shards of pottery and parts of sunken boats. Yao Minji reports.

Chinese people often say cang hai sang tian or "the ocean changes to land and the land becomes ocean" to indicate how time brings great changes to the world.

Beneath the cities of Huaibei and Suzhou in northern Anhui Province lies a segment of the vast waterway, the Grand Canal of China. After the unused canal silted up, the area became a modern granary of wheat and production area of vegetables and fruit.

More recently, buildings, skyscrapers, factories, houses, parks and other urban structures have been built on top of the buried canal. The ocean, or water, indeed turned to land.

The ancient canal, once filled with passenger ships and cargo vessels carrying grain, silk and tea that were sold all over the world, is now buried dozens of meters under wide cement streets filled with passenger cars.

"Buried under this modern city is a whole sleeping canal system 1,000 to 1,500 years old, a lively historic underground," Han Sanhua, head of the Suzhou Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau, tells Shanghai Daily at the office in Yongqiao District.

"This whole downtown area is called Yongqiao (qiao means bridge) District because there was once a bridge here above the canal," Han says.

More Photos: Yangzhou preserves charms of Grand Canal

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