In the east China's Zhejiang Province, two ancient towns dating from the Tang Dynasty, sleep silently under a man-made lake. They've been there for more than 50 years, nearly forgotten. That was until a former villager set out on a rather unusual project.
Traveling back in time, that's now possible with this unique map.
In 1959, a dam submerged this region in eastern China. Two ancient towns disappeared overnight, forcing the relocation for nearly 300-thousand people.
With old temples, memorial archways, bridges and many other details, it's hard to imagine that the men behind this map only started drawing late in life.
Yu Nianchun, an amateur cartographer, said, "I worked as a waiter before I retired. I had no idea how to draw, let alone making maps. But when I encountered many former residents who spoke about their hometown, I came up with the idea to make these ancient towns reappear. So I started researching and learning how to draw. The map wasn't made overnight, it is the accumulation of practice and information collecting over the past ten years."
Yu Nianchun was only 24 years old when he was forced to relocate. Though he has found memories of the town where he grew up, he couldn’t recall all the details. So that's when he started going door-to-door, asking other villagers for their help.
But it wasn't always a smooth ride.
Yu Nianchun said, "I remember once I visited a family five times. At beginning, they didn't want to talk to me. But I didn't give up. I showed them part of my work and they were really impressed. So finally, I got the chance to get the information I wanted."
After a decade of hard work, his project has paid off and former residents are grateful for his dedication.
He also said, "The map has so many details; you can even find each resident's name on it. You can see here, my grandfather is Chen Xianhong, and my grandmother is Bi Xiaomei. We used to live on No.21 Ximen Street. It's great to remember the past."
But for Yu Nianchun and other former residents, the map is also a unique gift to remind future generations of their ancient and deep roots.