Four kilometers (2 miles) to the northwest of the Old Town of Lijiang, at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, lies a compact village hidden in the forest, the Old Town of Shuhe. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has listed it as an important component of Lijiang as it is a well-preserved example of a town along the ancient tea route and one of the earliest settlements of the ancestors of Naxi people. It is called ‘the hometown of springs’.
Ambling along Sifang Street, you will feel time slowly flowing backwards. Though it is only 30 meters long (32 yards), the smooth flagstone remind you of their flourishing past. Listen carefully, you can even hear the light ringing sound of busy horses’ hooves from far away places.
Qinglong Bridge, built of stone pieces, measuring about 25 meters long (27 yards), 4.5 meters wide (4.9 yards) and 4 meters high (13 feet), was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Among the countless old stone bridges in Lijiang, it is regarded as ‘the First’. The deck has been pock-marked over hundreds of years, revealing the solemn passing of history.
There is a deep pool at the end of the street, called Long Pool (Dragon Pool), from which the overflowing water winds through the village, and the bubbling sound can be heard miles away. Fishes in the pool are appreciated by every tourist, because they are close to people. When you throw food to them, they will fight each other for it. Beside the pool lies a broken stele. When knocked by a stone, it sends out a sharp and light ringing sound, which is very pleasant. Above Long Pool is a temple called ‘Sansheng Palace’. Standing against the wooden railings, you can have a bird’s eye view of the village presenting a poetic rural idyll.
In addition, the Old Town of Shuhe was once famous for its developed leatherworking and education.