Archives For Park & Temple

You could be forgiven for thinking that due to Beijing’s lack of rivers, boating options would be few and far between. However Beijing does in fact surprisingly come up trumps with its various ancient parks and intricate canals. Whether you fancy a trip down one of Beijing’s weaving canals that takes you on a tour of the city’s various historic spots, or are just in need of a relaxing drift away from it all out in a lake, there are ample opportunities to enjoy boating in Beijing.

Changhe(长河)is a canal that was used by China’s emperors, and dates back over 700 years. Empress Dowager Cixi used to ride this river from the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace to relax during the summer. Changhe Hangdao runs from the Zoo to the Summer Palace, stretching 9 miles in length, and passes by Baishiqiao, the National Library, the Purple Bamboo Forest, Wanshou Temple and Changhewan before arriving at the resort. Also, the Changhe Hangdao ride is a great deal – the ticket includes the price of the zoo’s entrance fee!

Add: Beijing Zoo, 137 Xizhimen Waidajie, Xicheng District, Beijing
地址:北京市西城区西直门外大街137号动物园
Boat opening hours: the first boat departs at 9:00 with boats leaving every 30 mins thereafter. If you want to see the performances at Haiyangguan, you can leave at one or two in the afternoon before their 15:00 performance begins. It takes 50 mins to get to the Summer Palace
Price: 40RMB (one-way), 70 RMB (round-trip) (including the price of the Summer Palace and the Zoo). If you don’t want to go to the Summer Palace you can be dropped off right outside.
Tel: 010 6836 1713

Fragrant Hills is a special park on the outskirts of the city that offers lush open spaces.

Located at the foot of the Western Mountains in the northwestern part of the city, the 825-year-old leafy park is filled with traditional architecture and cultural relics.

Fragrant Hills Park covers 1.6 km² (395 acres), with a natural pine-cypress forest, hills with maple tree, and persimmon trees, as well as landscaped areas with traditional architecture and cultural relics.

The name is derived from Chinese Incense Burner the park’s highest peak, Xianglu Feng, (1,827 ft) is a hill with two large stones resembling incense burners at the top. Xianshan Park represents a fantastic getaway, offering an historic point of view as the home of leisure for past emperors and even Chairman Mao. Xiang Shan is commonly known for its vivid reds of deciduous trees in the autumn.

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The summer Palace is produced with the help of the most advanced high-end digital technology. The crew produced a series of landscape shots during different seasons, with their footprints reaching to every corner of the garden. The documentary faithfully and completely pictured the changes of views and lighting effectss during the four seasons. Vivid details brings highly visual shock to the audience.

The Summer Palace Part 1- The garden of clear rippies:

Part 2- Heaven and earth by Kunming Lake

Part 3- Unique architecture skills

Part 4- Tempest paradise

Part 5- Diplomacy in the imperial garden

Part 6- The survival and renewal

Fa Yuan Temple

john  —  May 28, 2012

 

Hong Luo Temple

john  —  May 8, 2012

Official website: Hong Luo Temple

Last week while in Beijing, I had a very long and enjoyable day at Beijing’s really cool Summer Palace. Long because the Summer Palace is BIG and takes time to see it properly. Enjoyable because the Summer Palace is just awesome and I had the company of a really nice American couple D and D (their initials).

I met D and D the previous night while wandering the streets east of the Forbidden City with my friend and travel buddy K looking for the elusive Beijing hutongs. D and D took pity on us, gave us directions from their lonely planet guide and agreed to keep me company in the Summer Palace the following day.

For detailed information on the Summer palace, read this article Summer Palace in Beijing

Preparation – If you just want a quick visit so you can take a few photos, see a few buildings and cross the Summer Palace of your list of places to visit, 1-2 hours is enough. If you want to fully appreciate and savour the Summer Palace, you will need at least 5-6 hours so set aside a whole day. There is not much in the way of food or drink there so pack lunch.

How we did the Summer Palace

We met at 10am at the Qianmen subway station, took a subway to the 375 bus stop then caught the 375 bus to the Summer Palace using directions from the Lonely Planet. Took us around an hour to get there. A better way to get to the Summer Palace is to take the subway to Beigongmen station on subway line 4. The northern entrance of the Summer Palace is right next to the subway exit.

The Summer Palace is large park and imperial garden with an area of 2.2 kilometers, has a man made lake, a large temple complex and a large palace complex. Covering such a large area with so many building takes a lot of effort so I suggest you should use a map and plan your day carefully.

We started at the North Palace gate and worked our way south to Longevity Hill then continued south down to the lake front with a few detours on the way. This covered all the major temple buildings such as the Sea of Wisdom Temple and the Tower of Buddhist Incense.

Next we headed west to check out some interesting buildings like the Tower of Hill Lake Scenery. We then back tracked and headed east to explore the palace complex. The palace complex has many stories to tell, most of them about Empress Cixi who was one nasty piece of work. She embezzled funds from the navy and who knows where else to pimp the Summer Palace to her liking and when her nephew who she installed as the Guangxu Emperor got out of line, she placed him in house arrest. You can see his home/prison in the palace complex.

One of the most interesting buildings in the palace complex is the Grand Stage where Cixi and Beijing’s A list watched performances.

Lucky for us, a performance started just after we arrived in the courtyard housing the stage. The actual performance was pretty ordinary but a very enjoyable experience. I would have enjoyed watching the Wiggles perform simply because this was where the Chinese Imperial family sat and watched live performances.

By the time we finished with the palace complex it was mid afternoon and we were feeling pretty hungry so decided to do the 17 Arch Bridge, South Lake Isle, quickly circle around the park then head off and grab some dinner.

Being so big, we took almost two hours to circle the park and make it back to the North entrance. A great walk even when you are foot sore and starving. So you can see that needing a day to see the Summer Palace properly is no exaggeration.

A special thanks to D and D for being great company!

(Blog posted by Brendon on April 18, 2011. You can see the original article by following this link to China Travel Go)

• Visit Summer Palace website for further information.

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Shihua Cave Geoarea

john  —  February 21, 2012

Shihua Caverns (Stone Follower Caverns) is a key national scenic spot, national AAAA level Tourist Attraction, as well as a Geoarea of Fangshan Global Geopark.

The cave is multi-storeys and consists of seven layers. Layers 1 to 6 are dry and layer 7 is submerged in underground river. Layers 1 to 4 is open to public at present and the sight-seeing route is more than 2,500m long. The sediments in the cave are complete in variety. changeable types of tufa were generated by infiltration, dripping, flowing, stagnating and splashing and there are over 40 kinds of travertine forms.

Shihua Cave is an ideal destination for sight-seeing and scientific research.

Shihua Caverns is also a national geological park which is noted for the unique Karst cave sightseeing and a valuable informational bank on geological research.

For more beautiful pictures please visit Photo gallery

Jingshan Park

john  —  February 21, 2012

Jingshan Park (Jǐngshān Gōngyuán, 景山公园) is well known to Beijingers as providing the best panoramic shots of the Forbidden City and, on a clear day, of the entire city. When the Emperor’s Palace was constructed in Beijing and the moats were dug, the excavated soil was used to create this artificial hill directly north of the palace. The hill consists of five small peaks each housing a pavilion. The most popular, center pavilion provides a breathtaking view of the Forbidden City.

Jingshan Park is a popular attraction for tourists leaving the Forbidden City through the northern Gate of Divine Might and others exploring the hutong areas around the palace. The park’s forest and gardens are a nice escape from the bustling Beijing streets to the south. During the day, there are usually gatherings of elderly people dancing or doing other exercises. Outside of the entrance will be rickshaw drivers offering hutong (alley) tours but be sure to bargain for these tours. The admission into the park is RMB2.

(Blog  contributed by TheBJReviewer on October 21, 2011.)

Visit this website for further information about Jingshan Park.

Beihai Park

john  —  February 21, 2012

 

• Visit this website for further information about Beihai Park.

• Travel Map of Beihai Park. Click here.

The Temple of Heaven

john  —  February 21, 2012

The 3rd Beijing International Film Festival kicks off on April 16, 2013

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• Visit this website for further information about the Temple of Heaven website.

• An outline map of Temple of Heaven. Click here.

The Temple Of Heaven

john  —  February 19, 2012

The Temple of Heaven was used by Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties to worship Heaven, offer sacrifices and pray for good harvests and favourable rain. The architecture in the Temple of Heaven is amazing, it’s history enthralling and it’s cultural significance profound. A must see attraction for anyone visiting Beijing.

Purpose & Function

Throughout China’s history from the unification of China in 221 BE by the King of Qin to the fall of the last emperor Yuan Shikai in 1916, China’s emperors were referred to as the son’s of heaven. The emperor was heaven’s representative on earth and administered earth on behalf of the gods. Part of the emperors duties as the son of heaven was showing respect to the gods by making sacrifices to heaven.

The Temple of Heaven was built so the emperor could make sacrifices to heaven and pray for the god’s benevolence. Two key ceremonies were held at the Temple of Heaven on the Winter solstice and in Spring when the emperor, the court and Beijing’s royal A list would dress in their Sunday finest, leave the Forbidden City and travel to the Temple of Heaven where they would set up camp for the ceremonies duration.

Agriculture was the foundation of wealth in imperial China so praying for good harvest was believed to be very beneficial.  If harvest were bad, the stability of the emperor’s reign would be threatened so annual trips to the Temple of Heaven, like visits to the in-laws, could not be avoided. You can be sure that after a bad year, the emperor’s prayers would be very passionate and fervent.

History

The temple was built from 1406 to 1420 by Emperor Yong Le of the Ming Dynasty who died four years after construction was complete. When the temple was built it was called the Temple of Heaven and Earth. Later in the 16th century a Ming Emperor Jia Jiang built the Temple of Earth in the north of Beijing so the Temple of Heaven and Earth had to be renamed as the Temple of Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven was renovated and extended in the 16th century and renovated again in the 18th century by the Emperor Qianlong.

In 1900 a group of foreign nations that included USA and the UK took over the Temple of Heaven and used it as a headquarters for a year during the ill fated Boxer Rebellion. Later in 1918 the Temple was turned into a park and opened to the public for the first time in history. In recognition of the temple’s unique architecture and key role in China’s history, UNESCO listed it as a world heritage site in 1998.

Layout

As the son of heaven, the emperor was not able to make his home bigger than the symbolic home for heaven so the Temple of heaven covers 2.73 square kilometres which is over three times larger than the Forbidden City. The Temple of Heaven itself is divided into two parts, the inner temple and the outer temple. The outer temple is mainly heavily wooded parkland that is now used by Beijing locals for recreation and sport. If you visit the temple early in the morning, you will see many people out and about enjoying themselves in the outer temple parkland.

The inner temple is built on a straight line running from north to south and holds the temple’s main buildings which are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Alter.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qinian Dian)

You can see from the map that the part of the temple holding the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is enclosed by a wall. The northern part of the wall that holds the hall is circular which symbolizes heaven and the southern part of the wall is square which symbolizes earth that ancient Chinese believed to be square. Very similar to the European belief at the time that the world was flat!

The hall is 38.2 meters high, has a diameter of 24.2 meters and built on a raised 3 tier marble terrace with eight stairways. The terrace elevates the temple to show that heaven is high and earth is low. The hall and was used during the Spring ceremony to pray for bumper harvest.

The hall was first built in 1420 as a rectangular hall called “Great Hall of Sacrificial Rituals”. It was rebuilt in 1545 and named “Great Hall of Offering Sacrifices”.  Keeping the same basic design, it was rebuilt again in 1751 and named the “Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

Imperial Hall of Heaven

The Imperial Hall of Heaven is just north of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. This hall is often called the Heavenly warehouse because it stored the stone tablet of “the God of Heaven” and the tablets of the Emperor’s ancestors. The tablets were transferred to the Hall of Prayer for rituals and ceremonies then returned again at the end.

On the day of ceremonies the emperor would come here to burn incense and pay respect to his ancestors before officials from the ministry of rituals transferred the tablets to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

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