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China's Atlantis

By Eric Jou, Wang Zhenghua and Zhang Jianming (China Daily)

08:39, May 10, 2012

A diver steps into Qiandaohu to explore the submerged Lion City. Photos by Yong Kai / China Daily

Lion City is a bastion of a bygone era, hidden beneath about 30 meters of water. The pristine ruins of what was once home to about 5,400 people is receiving new attention, and some evacuated citizens have returned to recall the settlement's glory days. Eric Jou, Wang Zhenghua and Zhang Jianming travel to nearby Jiangjiazhen to rediscover the lost Lion City.

A treasure is hidden beneath the calm surface of Zhejiang province's Qiandaohu, or Thousand Island Lake, - an entire city. The ancient walled city in Sui'an county, called Lion City, because of the nearby Wushi (Five Lion) Mountains, has a history that spans 1,391 years.

The settlement, which is about half the size of the Forbidden City, was home to 5,371 residents. They were relocated when the government submerged the settlement to construct a national reservoir in 1959.

It remained out of sight and out of mind until now, as media are rediscovering the underwater ruins and residents are returning to remember the past and look to the future.

Reporters have been descending on the small town of Jiangjiazhen at the southern tip of Qiandaohu since the local government recently began efforts to bring the submerged city into the national consciousness.

The tiny town is one of the major relocation sites of Lion City's residents.

Just outside Jiangjiazhen is a museum dedicated to exhibiting the history of Lion City and its also-submerged neighbor, He Cheng.

Jiang Mingzhou, a 74-year-old resident of Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou, searches for his childhood home in the museum's model of Lion City.

The schoolteacher was forced to leave in 1959 at age 21.

"I can see the street in the city's east where my house was," Jiang says.

"The city was really big. This model is really small. It's so incomplete. The school area was much larger, and the city wall had cannon turret platforms."

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