Lake Taihu (Lake Tai or Taihu Lake) is the third largest freshwater lake with an area of 2,250 km2. It is a shallow subtropical lake with an average depth of 2 meters. Many islands, about 90, some as tiny as a few feet long, some as large as several miles, are scattered across the lake. A number of rivers originate from the lake such as the Suzhou Creek.
The lake is linked to the Grand Canal in the northwest and its lake shore is characterized by shallow, sandy beaches and rocky shores. The limestone rocks forming the lake’s basin are the special materials for construction of Chinese traditional classic gardens. Lake Taihu separates Wuxi City into two halves flanking its north and most of western and eastern part, and its neighboring city Suzhou and Zhejiang Province border the remaining southeast and southwest, respectively. Parts of the surrounding region make up one of China’s largest grain-producing bases.
The lake includes 48 inlets with diverse sizes, 72 peaks and peninsulas along the lakeshore. The best location to view its loveliness is on the Turtle Head Islet located in Wuxi, which extends into the lake. With dotted parks and gardens, the lake is one of the best tourist attractions. Its splendid natural beauty made it well known in various legends and myths in China’s history.
Pollution of the lake water is now a big problem and an algae boom has been blamed as the major cause. In May 2007, the lake was overtaken by algae, the Blue Algae, which gave the water a blue color and a foul smell. An increasing use of fertilizers in adjacent farmlands has been blamed for the problem because it creates excessive nutrients inducing algae growth. Many shipping and residential wastes are dumped directly into the lake contributing to the algae bloom. The government has identified the current situation of the lake as a natural disaster and is investing a huge sum of money to control sewages dumping and installing anti-pollution equipment at shipping and fuel stations.
One of the best locations to view the lake is Xihui Park in the west of Wuxi. By climbing the summit of Dragon Light Pagoda (Longguang Pagoda) inside the park, you will get a bird view of the city and the lake.
Yuantouzhu (Turtle Head Island) is another prominent region for tourists. It received this title because its outline resembles a turtle head. The region gained its fame in the early 20th century and it contains more than ten scenic sites for visit.
The Taihu Lake Film and TV Studio Town were founded in 1987 by the China Central Television station and is a must-see location. The studio has erected several towns for filming, including Tang Dynasty Town, European Style Town, Three Kingdom Period Town and Asian Town.
The lake has, since the ancient Chinese dynasties, been one of the most fabulous lakes to tour and to cruise. Many scenic spots in and around the lake were established as early as hundreds of years ago, and many celebrities including emperors, ministers, scholars, painters, poets and generals have left numerous historic relics.