The Hupao Spring in Hangzhou is one of the top three springs in China. The Hupao Spring, literally meaning Running Tiger Spring, came about because it was thought to be dug out by tigers. Once upon a time, there was a monk who came to spread the teachings of Buddhism in Hangzhou. He wanted to settle in for long-term but was unable to find a water source nearby and hence had to look around for another location. During the night, he dreamed of two tigers, digging the ground with their paws, releasing spring water from underneath. As he woke up, the two tigers were indeed next to him, digging out water for him. The word digging in Chinese (刨), has the same pronunciation as “running” (跑), and hence the spring is commonly known as Running Tiger Spring (虎跑泉).
I sort of expected a big bubbling pool of spring when we entered from the main gate but no. No springs yet, just a calming, quiescent scene with small yellow flowers, floating leaves and narrow streams.
It was a 10 minutes short walk to the main spring. The staff might be drawing water out from the spring for you to try so get your water bottles ready! The water tasted cold, and well, it tasted like normal water.
The spring water is very popular with the locals and as you walk to reach the main spring, you will be able to spot locals with big water containers to bring spring water home from a different spring outlet. The water from Hupao Spring is also thought to be a superb pair with the Lonjin Tea Leaves (龙井茶), a specialty of Hangzhou, even endorsed by Emperor Qianlong from the Qing Dynasty!
There’s a tea house within for you to try the famed combo of Longjin Tea using Hupao Spring Water.
Since the spring is associated with tigers, you will find tigers here and there. Big tigers, small tigers, stone tigers or tigers by a monk.
The lying monk and the two tigers are on a little hill above the spring so less people make an effort to walk up the steps to see if there’s anything up there.
Being curious at everything, I walked up the steps surrounded by a bamboo forest, and found the mystical statues glowing in patches of light.
There’s more than just the spring in the area. There’s an small exhibition hall that tells you a bit of history about the Running Tiger Spring.
You get to learn about the mineral composition of the spring water, which seems to have lots of minerals!
There is the hall of 500 arhats, originally built 700 hundred years ago and reconstructed again in the 80’s.
The arhats are most commonly seen as statues in Buddhist temples but in this Hall of Arhats, they are uniquely engraved on stone slabs.
There’s the temple of the crazy monk, Jigong, who ate dog meat and drank wine,
the Jigong memorial hall,
and the stupa of Master Hongyi.
Enjoy more photos below:)
Address: 39 Hupao Rd, Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Getting there: K4, K504, Tourism Bus No. 5
Entrance Fee: RMB15.