When mentioning spring water, people will think of Jinan, which is known as “Spring City”. Thanks to its special hydrologic and geological conditions and abundant karst water resources, Jinan is rich in spring water, which is richly endowed by nature and unrivalled in the world.
In the Kin Dynasty (1115-1234), the “Tablet of Famous Springs’ was set up, recording 72 famous springs in Jinan. But an on-the-spot investigation reveals that the old city area of Jinan alone has over 140 springs, which are divided into four major spring groups – Baotu Spring Group, Black Tiger Spring Group, Pearl Spring Group and Five Dragon Pool Spring Group, with Baotu Spring taking the lead.
Baotu Spring Group
Located in the southwest of the old city of Jinan, the Baotu Spring Group consists of 37 springs, including Baotu Spring, Golden Thread Spring, Jade-Rinsing Spring, Horse Running Spring, Reclining Ox Spring, Huanghua Spring, and Willow Catkins Spring, etc. Each displays its own unusual beauty.
Boasting a history of over 2,700 years, Baotu Spring (Spurting Spring) ranks the first among the 72 famous springs. According to legend, Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty took with him some water from the Jade Spring in Beijing to drink along the way when going southwards to Jiangnan (the region south of the Yangtze River). Having tasted the water of Baotu Spring in Jinan, he immediately decided to drink it instead from that moment on, and conferred the Baotu Spring as the “No.1 Spring under Heaven”. With three openings, the spring spurts water all year round, with a temperature of about 18℃. In cold winter, the spring is covered with a thin layer of mist. A wonderful fairyland is formed by limpid, deep and serene springs on one side, and beautifully shaped towers and pavilions with painted beams and pillars on the other side.
It is easy for the heedful tourists to notice that one point is missing from the character “tu” (突) of the “Baotu Spring” (趵突泉). Two explanations are prevalent in the folklores. One goes that it is deliberately written like that to express people’s good wish of expecting Baotu Spring to spurt forever and endlessly. The other goes that Baotu Spring gained mighty spurting momentum during that year when the tablet of Baotu Spring was set up. The spring washed the point of “tu” away, and that point flows down the river into Daming Lake. That’s why the character “ming” (明) on the memorial archway of the south entrance of Daming Lake is inscribed with an extra stroke.
Black Tiger Spring Group
The Black Tiger Spring Group is situated in the southeast of the old city of Jinan, on the both banks of the south moat. With the highest rate of flow of the four major spring groups in Jinan, the spring group consists of 14 famous springs, including the Black Tiger Spring, Lute Spring, White Stone Spring, Agate Spring, Nine Daughter Spring and Five Lotus Spring, etc.
Black Tiger Spring ranks second in the amount of water rushing up among all the springs of Jinan, only next to Baotu Spring. Spring water keeps gushing out from a sunken cave under the cliff, as clean as top-quality wine and as green as emerald. Spring water spurts out from three stone tiger heads in front of the cave to fall into a square pond and then squeeze out of the pond to flow into the old moat.
Pearl Spring Group
Located in the center of the old city of Jinan, the Pearl Spring Group is composed of 20 famous springs, which are the main water source of Daming Lake. Pearl Spring ranks first among the springs in the Pearl Spring Group. After rushing out from the bottom, spring water forms strings of bubbles, sparkling and crystal-clear, which were like scattered pearls, hence the name – Pearl Spring. The local people believe that it was the tears of Ehuang and Nüying (two concubines of Shun) that turned into pearl-like spring water.
Five Dragon Pool Spring Group
The Five Dragon Pool Spring Group is on the western side of the moat. Legend has it that the Five Dragon Pool is very deep. Whenever the locals suffered from a drought, they would pray for water and it would rain soon. A temple was built by the pool, with the statues of five divine dragons, hence the name – Five Dragon Pool. Five Dragon Pool stands out with deepest spring water and largest water surface among the famous springs in Jinan. Near the spring group, there are 26 famous ancient springs in different shapes, forming the Five Dragon Pool Spring system. Each spring shows its distinctive and elegant demeanor.