Mag­nif­i­cent Im­pe­rial Struc­tures

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Li Yi, Zhang Weix­ing Edited by David Ball

China’s cap­i­tal is home to nu­mer­ous im­pres­sive im­pe­rial gar­dens and an­cient tem­ples, in­clud­ing lesser- known cul­tural sites such as Prince Gong’s Man­sion. Tak­ing a stroll through these gar­dens and tem­ples, visi­tors are cap­ti­vated by the beau­ti­ful au­tumn scenery and amazed by the charm of this im­pe­rial city.

The en­dur­ing charm of Bei­jing lies in its sta­tus as an an­cient city. China’s cap­i­tal is home to nu­mer­ous im­pres­sive im­pe­rial gar­dens and an­cient tem­ples. Tak­ing a stroll through these gar­dens and tem­ples, visi­tors are cap­ti­vated by the beau­ti­ful au­tumn scenery and amazed by the charm of this im­pe­rial city.

Tem­ple of Heaven Where Em­per­ors Wor­shipped Heaven

The Tem­ple of Heaven is a well-known gar­den filled with an­cient trees and a myr­iad of flow­ers. Here, the sight of tow­er­ing trees with their twisted branches, as well as the mu­nic­i­pal flow­ers of Bei­jing—the chrysan­the­mum and Chi­nese rose—never fail to take peo­ple's breath away.

In the past, ev­ery­one from im­pe­rial rulers and high-rank­ing of­fi­cials to or­di­nary peo­ple be­lieved in, re­spected and wor­shipped Heaven. At that time, the Tem­ple of Heaven, which rep­re­sents the supreme achieve­ment of “re­li­gious” build­ings in an­cient China, played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the ur­ban con­struc­tion of the cap­i­tal.

In 1998, the Tem­ple of Heaven was in­scribed on the list of World Cul­tural Her­itage. In their as­sess­ment of the site, the UN­ESCO World Her­itage Com­mit­tee stated: “The Tem­ple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th cen­tury, is a dig­ni­fied com­plex of fine cult build­ings set in gar­dens and sur­rounded by his­toric pine woods. In its over­all lay­out and that of its in­di­vid­ual build­ings, it sym­bol­ises the re­la­tion­ship be­tween earth and heaven—the hu­man world and God's world—which stands at the heart of Chi­nese cos­mogony, and also the spe­cial role played by the em­per­ors within that re­la­tion­ship.”

The an­cient peo­ple went to great lengths to con­struct such a mag­nif­i­cent build­ing.

In 1421, Em­peror Chengzu (reign: 1403–1425, per­sonal name Zhu Di) of the Ming Dy­nasty (1368– 1644), for­mally re­lo­cated the cap­i­tal from Nan­jing to Peip­ing (present-day Bei­jing), ful­fill­ing a long-cher­ished dream. To con­sol­i­date his rule, he held a grand cer­e­mony at the Tem­ple of Heaven and Earth.

In 1530, the Ming court an­nounced that in­stead of wor­ship­ping Heaven and Earth in one lo­ca­tion, the Heaven, Earth, Sun and Moon would be wor­shipped sep­a­rately in the south­ern, north­ern, east­ern and west­ern sub­urbs of Bei­jing, re­spec­tively. Once a new site was se­lected in the north­ern sub­urbs for the Tem­ple of the Earth, the orig­i­nal Tem­ple of Heaven and Earth be­came the site for em­per­ors to of­fer sac­ri­fices to Heaven and pray for a good har­vest and plen­ti­ful rain, and was re­named the Tem­ple of Heaven.

In 1540, Em­peror Ji­a­jing (reign: 1522– 1567) or­dered the dis­man­tling of the Hall of Grand Sac­ri­fices in­side the orig­i­nal Tem­ple of Heaven and Earth and the build­ing of the Grand Hall of Treat­ment to Heaven on its site. The Grand Hall of Treat­ment to Heaven was a cir­cu­lar, wooden build­ing with three tiers of eaves. This struc­ture was the pre­de­ces­sor to the Hall of Prayer for Good Har­vests that stands to­day. The whole build­ing is sup­ported by 28 nanmu wood pil­lars and in­ge­niously joined to­gether by 36 mor­tise and tenon joints.

Sim­i­lar to the Ming em­per­ors, Em­peror Kangxi (reign: 1662–1723) of the Qing Dy­nasty (1644–1911), who stud­ied the Book of Changes and Con­fu­cian­ism, also had the Tem­ple of Heaven ren­o­vated. Ren­o­va­tions be­gan with a change in the build­ing's colour scheme. Dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Ji­a­jing in the Ming Dy­nasty, the Grand Hall of Treat­ment to Heaven was dec­o­rated in three colours—blue rep­re­sent­ing the vast sky, yel­low rep­re­sent­ing the em­peror and green rep­re­sent­ing the or­di­nary peo­ple. Em­peror Kangxi how­ever, had his crafts­men change the orig­i­nal blue up­per-tier eave, yel­low mid­dle-tier eave and green lower-tiered to dark blue glazed tiles. The ren­o­vated Grand Hall of Treat­ment to Heaven was also re­named the Hall of Prayer for Good Har­vests. On sunny days, the roof of the hall seems to merge seam­lessly into the sky.

Build­ings in the Tem­ple of Heaven were ren­o­vated, ex­panded and re­paired on a large scale sev­eral times dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Qian­long (1736–1795). All of the other main tem­ple build­ings were built dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty ex­cept for the Gate of Prayer for Good Har­vests and the Hall of Im­pe­rial Zenith, which were con­structed dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty. Un­for­tu­nately, the Hall of Prayer for Good Har­vests, which was ren­o­vated dur­ing Em­peror Qian­long's reign, met with dis­as­ter in 1889, catch­ing fire when it was struck by light­ning. As the pil­lars were made of agal­wood, they gave off a spe­cial fra­grance as they burned, which spread for sev­eral kilo­me­tres. Though it was de­stroyed in the fire, the hall was re­built the fol­low­ing year.

In ad­di­tion to ren­o­vat­ing the Tem­ple of Heaven, Em­peror Qian­long es­tab­lished a set of rig­or­ous and stan­dard­ised rules of eti­quette for of­fer­ing sac­ri­fices to Heaven. The sys­tem of rit­u­als, which was con­tin­ued by em­per­ors of suc­ces­sive dy­nas­ties, reached its apex in the reign of Em­peror Qian­long. Dur­ing his 60-year rule, the em­peror vis­ited the Tem­ple of Heaven 59 times, de­vel­op­ing the rit­ual cer­e­mony of of­fer­ing sac­ri­fices to Heaven to an un­prece­dented scale. In fact, of all 28 Ming and Qing dy­nasty em­per­ors, 22 held grand sac­ri­fi­cial cer­e­monies in the tem­ple on a to­tal of 654 oc­ca­sions. Dur­ing the Re­pub­lic of China (1912–1949) pe­riod, the tem­ple even wit­nessed the farce of sac­ri­fices be­ing of­fered to Heaven by those want­ing to res­tore the im­pe­rial regime. For­tu­nately, the tem­ple es­caped un­scathed from the trau­mas of those times.

Over time, the state cer­e­mony whereby em­per­ors pi­ously of­fered sac­ri­fices to Heaven be­came no more. In 1918, the Tem­ple of Heaven, the cap­i­tal's orig­i­nal im­pe­rial tem­ple com­plex was turned into a park. Ever since, visi­tors have been able to stroll around its grounds at their leisure and think back over the tem­ple's long his­tory.

The Tem­ple of Heaven is home to a col­lec­tion of more than 10,000 cul­tural relics. Most of these items are re­lated to the cer­e­mony of of­fer­ing sac­ri­fices to Heaven, and a large pro­por­tion are sac­ri­fi­cial ves­sels and mu­si­cal in­stru­ments. These items are dis­played as part of an ex­hi­bi­tion of sac­ri­fi­cial relics in the Im­pe­rial Vault of Heaven, an ex­hi­bi­tion on the tem­ple's restora­tion in the Hall of Prayer for Good Har­vests, an ex­hi­bi­tion on rit­ual eti­quettes in the West Side-hall of the Hall of Prayer for Good Har­vests, and in the hall of mu­sic and danc­ing in its East Side-hall. The Chi­nese are ac­cus­tomed to look­ing up to­wards the vast sky to sense the lofty and sa­cred Heaven above. Their hope that all is well with the coun­try is in­ex­tri­ca­bly tied up with the solemn and tran­quil Tem­ple of Heaven.

For­bid­den City

The Seat of Supreme Im­pe­rial Power

The For­bid­den City was the supreme cen­tre of power in China for more than five cen­turies. This huge build­ing com­plex is com­posed of gar­dens and over 9,000 rooms filled with exquisitely made fur­ni­ture and

hand­i­crafts. The site was wit­ness to the de­vel­op­ment of the Chi­nese civil­i­sa­tion dur­ing the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties.

From 1421, when Em­peror Chengzu of the Ming Dy­nasty made Bei­jing the cap­i­tal, un­til 1911, the year the last em­peror Pu Yi (reign: 1908–1911), was dethroned, 24 em­per­ors lived and han­dled state af­fairs in the For­bid­den City. In­nu­mer­able im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal events have taken place un­der the roofs of the ex­quis­ite palaces there.

The For­bid­den City's im­pres­sive build­ings sym­bol­ise the mag­nif­i­cence and pros­per­ity of Chi­nese dy­nas­ties. A north-south axis run­ning through Bei­jing dom­i­nates the lay­out of the city, and all com­pounds and court­yards within the For­bid­den City are sym­met­ri­cally aligned along this cen­tral axis. The size of the build­ing com­plex and the spa­ces be­tween the build­ings are ar­ranged rhyth­mi­cally and graded ac­cord­ing to the pur­poses and pri­or­i­ties of these build­ings.

Its palaces are di­vided into the in­nerand outer-court. The outer-court is lo­cated in the south of the For­bid­den City and in­cludes the Hall of Supreme Har­mony, Hall of Cen­tral Har­mony, and Hall of Pre­serv­ing Har­mony. The Hall of Lit­er­ary Glory and the Hall of Mar­tial Val­our then flank the three afore­men­tioned halls. These build­ings were all ad­min­is­tra­tive ar­eas, used for is­su­ing im­por­tant poli­cies, hold­ing as­sem­blies, rit­u­als and han­dling of­fi­cial busi­ness.

The in­ner-court was where the em­per­ors and im­pe­rial fam­ily mem­bers resided and in­cludes the Hall of Heav­enly Pu­rity, Hall of Union, and Hall of Earthly Tran­quil­lity. There are then six palaces to the east and six to the west which flank the three afore­men­tioned halls.

The cen­tral axis runs through the three main halls in the outer-court, the three main halls in the in­ner-court, and the im­pe­rial gar­den which cov­ers an area of 11,200 square me­tres (sq.m).

The For­bid­den City has four gates and ex­quis­ite cor­ner tow­ers are built at each of its four cor­ners. The palaces are en­closed by a wall mea­sur­ing 10 me­tres (m) high and 3,400 m long, which is sur­rounded by a 52-m-wide moat.

The ar­chi­tec­ture of the For­bid­den City is char­ac­terised by its rig­or­ous lay­out, large scale, lav­ish dec­o­ra­tion and im­pos­ing grandeur. It fully dis­plays the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the court­yard-style lay­out and the artis­tic ex­pres­sive­ness of an­cient Chi­nese build­ings, and rep­re­sents the high­est level of en­gi­neer­ing in an­cient Chi­nese build­ings. It is the only an­cient com­plex of its kind in China and oc­cu­pies an ex­tra­or­di­nary po­si­tion in the his­tory of world ar­chi­tec­ture.

Dur­ing the past 600-plus years, the For­bid­den City has sur­vived wars, fires and dam­age in­flicted by for­eign in­vaders. In 1948, it was turned into the Palace Mu­seum. Its col­lec­tions em­brace all cat­e­gories of an­cient arts, in­clud­ing trib­utes given only to the im­pe­rial fam­i­lies, items spe­cially used by im­pe­rial fam­i­lies and arte­facts handed down through gen­er­a­tions. A to­tal of nearly one mil­lion cul­tural relics are held in the col­lec­tions of the Palace Mu­seum in Bei­jing and the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum in Taipei. These items are gen­er­ally ex­hib­ited in two se­ries—those orig­i­nally be­long­ing to the court and an­cient works of art. The

col­lec­tion's an­cient art in­cludes cul­tural relics in the Hall of Paint­ing and Cal­lig­ra­phy, Qing Court Hall of Toys, Hall of Bronze­ware, Hall of Gold and Sil­ver­ware, Hall of Pot­tery and Porce­lain, Hall of Clocks and Watches, Hall of Trea­sures, Hall of Lo­cal Op­eras, Hall of Jade, and oth­ers. Each hall con­tains a huge amount of an­cient art trea­sures.

The Hall of Lit­er­ary Glory con­tains doc­u­ments be­long­ing to the cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ments cov­er­ing a times­pan of more than 500 years, with over 10 mil­lion doc­u­ments clas­si­fied in 74 sec­tions. As such, the Palace Mu­seum is the largest col­lec­tor of his­tor­i­cally valu­able ma­te­ri­als any­where in China. The Pavil­ion of the Im­pe­rial Li­brary con­tains the Siku quan­shu (Com­plete Li­brary of the Four Trea­suries), which in­cor­po­rates the most im­por­tant aca­demic works (a to­tal of 6,304 works of 3,503 kinds) of an­cient China. In 2005, the Palace Mu­seum added the spe­cially-col­lected an­cient writ­ings and the print­ing blocks of of­fi­cially-com­piled books to the gen­eral ac­count of cul­tural relics, and so the to­tal num­ber of items in the col­lec­tion rose to 1.5 mil­lion. The mu­seum is also home to de­crees and reg­u­la­tions from the im­pe­rial court and doc­u­ments re­lated to the daily run­ning of the im­pe­rial court.

The Ming and Qing dy­nasty For­bid­den City is a mas­ter­piece in terms of lay­out and ap­pear­ance. The only com­plex of its kind in Bei­jing, it is an im­por­tant sym­bol and car­rier of tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture. Visi­tors to the For­bid­den City can not only en­joy the bril­liant achieve­ments of an­cient Chi­nese cul­ture but also ap­pre­ci­ate this mirac­u­lous site of Bei­jing.

Sum­mer Palace

A Splen­did Im­pe­rial Gar­den

The Sum­mer Palace is lo­cated in the north­west sub­urbs of Bei­jing, ap­prox­i­mately 15 kilo­me­tres (km) from the For­bid­den City. It was the fi­nal im­pe­rial gar­den to be built in the 3,000-year his­tory of gar­den­ing in China. The Sum­mer Palace is home to Longevity Hill and Kun­ming Lake, as well as nu­mer­ous pavil­ions, ter­races and tow­ers and other nat­u­ral scener­ies. Each of these build­ings and scenic spots has their own unique char­ac­ter­is­tics, yet they also blend to­gether har­mo­niously. The Sum­mer Palace com­bines the achieve­ments of hor­ti­cul­tural arts in both south­ern and north­ern China, and ful­fills the ul­ti­mate goal of gar­dens— the unity of man and heaven.

Con­struc­tion of the Sum­mer Palace dates back more than 200 years, when Em­peror Qian­long was search­ing for an im­pres­sive way to hon­our his mother's birth­day, fi­nally or­der­ing con­struc­tion of the Sum­mer Palace. In the eyes of Em­peror Qian­long, the Sum­mer Palace was also a model which em­bod­ied his un­der­stand­ing of gov­er­nance and po­lit­i­cal ideals, and epit­o­mised a per­fect so­ci­ety in China.

The Sum­mer Palace is di­vided into three ar­eas. First is the ad­min­is­tra­tive area rep­re­sent­ing the supreme im­pe­rial power is cen­tred around the Hall of Benev­o­lence and Longevity, where Em­press Dowa­ger Cixi (re­gency: 1861–1908) han­dled state af­fairs and met cab­i­net min­is­ters. The se­cond is the gor­geous and com­fort­able res­i­den­tial area which is com­posed of the Hall of Jade Rip­ples, Gar­den of Vir­tu­ous Har­mony and Hall of Hap­pi­ness and Longevity. Fi­nally, the third is the sight­see­ing area com­posed of Kun­ming Lake and Longevity Hill. The en­tire gar­den cov­ers an area of 295 hectares and con­tains build­ings with over 3,000 rooms, which are con­structed from wooden

frames, cast from cop­per, built from bricks or in­laid with coloured glaze tiles. An axis runs from the Hall of the Sea of Wis­dom on top of Longevity Hill through the Tower of Bud­dhist In­cense, Hall of Mo­ral Glory, Hall and Gate of Dis­pelling Clouds, and Glow­ing Clouds and Holy Land Arch­way. At the foot of Longevity Hill, is the Long Cor­ri­dor, a fa­mous cov­ered walk­way which is painted with more than 8,000 and ex­tends over 700 m. To the south of the Long Cor­ri­dor lies the tran­quil Kun­ming Lake. Such a lay­out makes it pos­si­ble for visi­tors to feel the mag­nif­i­cence of an im­pe­rial gar­den amid grace­ful scenery.

Un­con­ven­tional de­sign de­tails can be found across the gar­den. For ex­am­ple, there are 544 stone lions on the 17-Arch Bridge, 59 more than those on the Lu­gou (Marco Polo) Bridge. The north­ern tip of the gar­den has rel­a­tively few build­ings, and in­stead the hills here are cov­ered with lush veg­e­ta­tion, its wind­ing paths lead­ing to se­cluded cor­ners. The grace­ful and quiet en­vi­ron­ment here is in stark con­trast to the mag­nif­i­cence of the front side of Longevity Hill. A group of Ti­betan-style build­ings packed closely to­gether and Suzhou Street (the em­peror's shop­ping street) are evoca­tive of scener­ies south of the Yangtze River, and ex­ert their own charm. With these build­ings and scener­ies, the Sum­mer Palace lives up to its rep­u­ta­tion as a mu­seum of tra­di­tional Chi­nese gar­dens.

Be­sides the han­dling of state af­fairs, Chi­nese em­per­ors en­joyed in­dulging them­selves in nat­u­ral beauty. The le­ga­cies of these rulers can be found in the Sum­mer Palace and is why the site is known as a mu­seum-like im­pe­rial gar­den. There are a wide range of relics col­lected here, in­clud­ing ar­ti­cles used in daily life, an­tiques, cal­li­graphic works, paint­ings and books, which are of im­mense cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal value. A large pro­por­tion of the col­lected items were gifts re­ceived by Em­press Dowa­ger Cixi dur­ing her birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. These gifts in­clude many rare and valu­able cu­rios. Most of the chime clocks and glass­ware were made dur­ing the 18th and 19th cen­turies, some cre­ated by skilled crafts­men in China, but most were pre­sented to the Qing gov­ern­ment as diplo­matic gifts by other coun­tries. Many of these gifts are in fact rarely seen even in the coun­tries where they came from.

The beauty of this clas­si­cal Chi­nese gar­den was formed over a long pe­riod of con­struc­tion, pros­per­ity, de­struc­tion and re­con­struc­tion be­fore it was re­born. To­day, the Sum­mer Palace gar­dens are an ideal sum­mer des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple in Bei­jing. When strolling through the gar­dens, visi­tors can­not help but ad­mire the beauty un­fold­ing along the shore of Kun­ming Lake.

In the win­ter of 1990, the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment dredged the silt at the bot­tom of the lake, in­creas­ing its aver­age depth by more than half a me­tre. When the sluice gate was re­opened, clean wa­ter spurted out. The scene of clear wa­ter was truly evoca­tive of the Sum­mer Palace's pre­de­ces­sor—the Gar­den of Clear Rip­ples.

The Pavil­ion of Bright Scenery, which was de­stroyed by a fire in 1860, was re­built on the long em­bank­ment along the south­west­ern part of Kun­ming Lake. The long em­bank­ment, hav­ing been left des­o­late for a long pe­riod of time, again be­came wit­ness to “warm and bright spring scenes.”

Since the 1980s, re­con­struct­ing the rear side of Longevity Hill has been one of the key projects in restor­ing the scener­ies of the

Sum­mer Palace. The core build­ing on the rear side of Longevity Hill—the Four Great Re­gions—was re­stored. In au­tumn 1990, the shop­ping street which had dis­ap­peared for over a cen­tury—suzhou Street—was also re­stored. Modelled af­ter Shan­tang Street in Suzhou, this street was orig­i­nally built to show Em­peror Qian­long's fil­ial piety to­wards the em­press dowa­ger. To­day how­ever, it is a place for visi­tors seek­ing out au­then­tic his­tor­i­cal scenes.

Ming Tombs Mau­soleums for 13 Em­per­ors

The Ming Dy­nasty un­der­went long pe­ri­ods of or­der and pros­per­ity as well as pe­ri­ods of restora­tion. The same was true of the im­pe­rial tombs from those times. De­spite the chaos of war, the Ming Tombs re­main ba­si­cally in­tact hav­ing been pro­tected by the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties and the Repub­li­can Gov­ern­ment. As a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of im­pe­rial tombs, the Ming Tombs con­tain the his­tory of the rise and fall of the Ming Dy­nasty, and wit­nessed the peak of feu­dal so­ci­ety that lasted over 500 years.

The Ming Tombs are lo­cated in Louziy­ing, Kangjia Vil­lage, Chang­ping Dis­trict, and the site was cho­sen ac­cord­ing to feng shui prin­ci­ples. The Tombs are screened by green hills with three im­pos­ing peaks to the north, and look out over a wide stretch of flat land, with Mang­shan Moun­tain on one side and Huyu Moun­tain to the other. The hills act as pro­tec­tion as if it guard­ing the Tombs, and the com­bi­na­tion of moun­tains and wa­ters meant it was con­sid­ered the ideal spot for build­ing the em­per­ors' tombs.

Rig­or­ously de­signed build­ings are sym­met­ri­cally ar­ranged within the Ming Tombs site. Spe­cial care was also taken so that the build­ings would blend in with the sur­round­ings and be ar­ranged in an orderly lay­out.

Changling, the tomb of Em­peror Yon­gle, is lo­cated at the foot of Tian­shou Moun­tain. As the first Ming Tomb to be built, its grand and mag­nif­i­cent build­ings show off the noble po­si­tion of its oc­cu­pant. Although each em­peror's tomb has its own sac­ri­fi­cial hall, soul tower and un­der­ground vault, the Sa­cred Way lead­ing to Changling con­nects all of the tombs.

The Ming Tombs com­plex cov­ers an area of more than 120 sq.km. Stone arch­ways and tablets are shared by all the tombs, each of which is ar­ranged ac­cord­ing to prece­dence. In this way, the build­ings in­side the com­plex are closely linked.

On the left side at the foot of Changling Moun­tain, the tombs are dis­trib­uted as fol­lows: Jin­gling for Em­peror Xuan­zong, Yongling for Em­peror Shi­zong and Del­ing for Em­peror Mu­zong. On the right side, the tombs are dis­trib­uted as fol­lows: Xian­ling for Em­peror Ren­zong, Qin­gling for Em­peror Ying­zong, Yul­ing for Em­peror Ying­zong, Maol­ing for Em­peror Xian­zong, Tail­ing for Em­peror Xiao­zong, Kan­gling for Em­peror Wu­zong, Din­gling for Em­peror Shen­zong, Zhaol­ing for Em­peror Mu­zong, and Sil­ing for Em­peror Si­zong. Oth­ers buried in the Ming Tombs in­clude 23 em­presses and nu­mer­ous con­cu­bines who were buried alive. There are also tombs for seven con­cu­bines and one for a eu­nuch, a tem­po­rary im­pe­rial palace and “nine-dragon pond.”

Of the thir­teen tombs, Din­gling is the most well-known. This is the tomb of the 13th em­peror of the Ming Dy­nasty, Em­peror Shen­zong (reign: 1573–1620, per­sonal name Zhu Yi­jun), and his two em­presses. Dur­ing the 1950s, ar­chae­ol­o­gists ex­ca­vated

the Din­gling tomb, mak­ing it the first to be done so ac­cord­ing to state plan.

The un­der­ground palace of Din­gling is lo­cated 27 m be­neath the ground. A largescale palace, it is com­posed of five cham­bers— front cham­ber, mid­dle cham­ber, rear cham­ber, and left and the right an­nex-cham­bers.

Cov­er­ing an area of ap­prox­i­mately 180,000 sq.m, the above-ground mau­soleum is com­posed of the Trea­sure City, Soul Tower, sac­ri­fi­cial hall, sac­ri­fi­cial gate, left and right roofed-cor­ri­dors, and slaugh­ter pavil­ion, sa­cred kitchen, sa­cred ware­house, and pavil­ion with a stone tablet in­side and out­side the mau­soleum's outer wall.

The Ming Tombs are home to more than 3,000 rare fu­ner­ary ob­jects. The most well-known of which is the “Golden Crown.” Weigh­ing only 826 grammes, the crown is wo­ven with 518 in­di­vid­ual pieces of pure gold wire, each of which has a di­am­e­ter of just 0.2 mm. Other fu­ner­ary ob­jects in­clude tex­tiles and gar­ments; gold, sil­ver, cop­per and tin wares; porce­lains and coloured glaze items; jade wares; painted wooden items; jew­els; head­pieces and belts; or­na­ments; dress­ing ar­ti­cles; and weapons. The tex­tiles and gar­ments dis­cov­ered can be clas­si­fied into bro­cades, cot­tons, silks and needle­work ac­cord­ing to weav­ing tech­niques. These ma­te­ri­als are ei­ther in the form of semifin­ished rolls of cloth or com­plete sewn cer­e­mo­nial robes of rulers, im­pe­rial robes, skirts, felt boots and bed­clothes. These ob­jects are in­valu­able ma­te­ri­als in the study of eti­quette in the im­pe­rial court and crafts­man­ship dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty.

Lo­cated in the south­east cor­ner of the Ming Tombs, Sil­ing is the tomb of Em­peror Chongzhen (1611–1644, per­sonal name Zhu You­jian), the last em­peror of the Ming Dy­nasty. The Sil­ing tomb was wit­ness to the col­lapse of the Ming Dy­nasty. Af­ter Bei­jing was con­quered by the leader of the peas­ant re­bel­lion Li Zicheng (1606–1645) to­wards the end of the Ming Dy­nasty, Em­peror Chongzhen hanged him­self at Jing­shan in present-day Coal Hill Park. The em­peror was sub­se­quently buried in the Ming Tombs, how­ever, in the tomb of one of his con­cu­bines. Sil­ing is less than one tenth the size of Changling, and the prin­ci­pal build­ings seen in all the other tombs for em­per­ors are not present in Sil­ing. The mau­soleum's trea­sure hill is also very small, with no trea­sure mound (the hillock atop the mau­soleum of the em­peror), let alone the bri­dle path along the wall of mau­soleum. The five kinds of stone of­fer­ings also dif­fer from those present in the other 12 tombs, and are not up to the stan­dard of other em­per­ors' mau­soleums.

In the past, the Ming Tombs were con­sid­ered sa­cred and in­vi­o­lable. To­day how­ever, Changling, Din­gling, Zhaol­ing and the Sa­cred Way have been opened up to the pub­lic. In 1959, a mu­seum fo­cus­ing on Din­gling was con­structed at the site of the orig­i­nal site tomb. In 1995, the Ming Tombs Mu­seum was built with the pur­pose of col­lect­ing, pro­tect­ing and study­ing his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural relics from the Ming Tombs. Ex­hi­bi­tions of its cul­tural relics are held to show­case Chi­nese his­tory and cul­ture, at­tract­ing tens of thou­sands of visi­tors ev­ery year. In re­cent times, peo­ple visit the Ming Tombs dur­ing Qing­ming Fes­ti­val to pray for bless­ings. One ac­tiv­ity held dur­ing the event is a re-en­act­ment of the grand scene whereby Em­peror Wanli (reign: 1573–1620) would per­son­ally of­fer sac­ri­fices to his an­ces­tors. Nu­mer­ous visi­tors take part in the event, “wit­ness­ing” this amaz­ing spec­ta­cle.

Bei­hai Park A Gar­den Fit for Em­per­ors

Bei­hai (lit. “North­ern Sea”) is ad­ja­cent to the Im­pe­rial Palace, with Jing­shan Park to its east; Zhong­hai (Cen­tral Sea) and Nan­hai (South­ern Sea) to its south; Xing­sheng Palace and Longfu Palace to its west; and Shicha­hai to its north. It is the most scenic of Bei­jing's “Three Seas” and is home to a lake, the White Pagoda, pine and cy­press trees, flow­ers, pavil­ions, ter­races, tow­ers and rock­eries, from which one can see the var­ied beauty of the cap­i­tal.

With their so­phis­ti­cated land­scap­ing tech­niques, crafts­men cre­ated Bei­hai Park that takes artis­tic el­e­ments from Chi­nese tem­ple gar­dens, scholar gar­dens south of the Yangtze River and re­li­gious at­trac­tions. This is why ev­ery sum­mer the em­peror would visit Bei­hai Park along with his fam­ily.

Peo­ple love the park be­cause of its nu­mer­ous struc­tures and scenes.

The Round City ( Tuancheng) is one of these struc­tures. Pre­vi­ously a small is­land in Taiye Lake, it was part of the Dan­ing Palace dur­ing the Jin Dy­nasty (1115–1234). In the Yuan Dy­nasty it was called Yuanchi or Yingzhou. Dur­ing the Qian­long reign of the Qing Dy­nasty, the Round City un­der­went a pe­riod of ex­ten­sive con­struc­tion and the Yuweng Pavil­ion was added. In the Jin Dy­nasty, the Round City be­came part of the im­pe­rial gar­den. The cir­cu­lar Round City is sur­rounded by city walls. In each of the east and west city walls there is a gate and gate tower. The east gate is called Zhao­jing, and the west, Yanx­i­ang. On en­ter­ing ei­ther gate, one can climb to the top of the city wall where the build­ings are ar­ranged sym­met­ri­cally. The Cheng­guang Hall is the main struc­ture, fac­ing the Yuweng Pavil­ion to the south and the Jingji Hall to the north; which to­gether con­sti­tute a cen­tral axis. Sym­met­ri­cally ar­ranged on both sides of this axis are the Gu­lai Hall, the east and west side rooms of the Yuqing Study and oth­ers. The Duoyun Pavil­ion and the Jinglan Pavil­ion are lo­cated high on a man-made hill. Be­tween the yel­low-tiled and red-walled an­cient build­ings are pine and cy­press trees. The cen­tre of the Cheng­guang Hall is square, it is three rooms wide and deep, and has an over­hang­ing roof on each of its four sides. The hall is in the shape of a cross and faces a ter­race to the south. The cen­tral main hall has a dou­ble-eaved gable and hip roof, and the over­hangs have sin­gle-eaved round ridged gable and hip roofs. The roofs fea­ture yel­low and green glazed tiles and up­turned eaves: the up­per eave has dou­ble-fish­tail, seven-step cor­bel brack­ets, whilst the lower eave fea­tures dou­ble­fish­tail, five-step cor­bel brack­ets. In­side, the hall is dec­o­rated with golden flo­ral paint­ings, and a large, exquisitely carved jade urn in the Yuweng Pavil­ion dates from the Yuan Dy­nasty.

“Qionghua Is­land on a Cloudy Spring Day” was con­sid­ered one of the Eight Great Sights of Yan­jing (Bei­jing) dur­ing the Jin Dy­nasty. A stele bear­ing these words was erected in the park in 1751 hand­writ­ten by Em­peror Qian­long. The other three sides are also in­scribed with poems writ­ten by the em­peror. On the north side of Qionghua Is­land is a bronze statue of an im­mor­tal stand­ing atop a carved white mar­ble pil­lar, hold­ing a dish above his head.

Such in­ter­est­ing scenes can be found all over the park, which at­tracts tens of thou­sands of visi­tors ev­ery year.

The Wan­shou Tem­ple Im­pe­rial Tem­ple and Art Mu­seum

The Wan­shou Tem­ple is lo­cated to the south of Suzhou Street, 3.5 km north­west of Xizhi­men, to the north of Zizhu Bridge and west of the Guangyuan Wa­ter Gate of Changhe River. Re­con­structed sev­eral times in the Wanli, Kangxi, Qian­long and Guangxu (1875–1908) reigns, the tem­ple de­vel­oped into a com­plex con­sist­ing of tem­ple, tem­po­rary palace and gar­den. It is praised as the “Small Im­pe­rial Palace in West­ern Bei­jing.”

The Wan­shou Tem­ple was first built in 1577, the fifth year of the Wanli reign of the Ming Dy­nasty. Funds were pro­vided by Em­peror Wanli's mother with the eu­nuch Feng Bao (1543–1583) from the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Rites in charge of its con­struc­tion. At that time the tem­ple was used pri­mar­ily as a de­posi­tary of Bud­dhist scrip­tures. Af­ter these were trans­ferred, the Wan­shou Tem­ple be­came a tem­po­rary palace where Ming Dy­nasty em­per­ors and em­presses dined and rested when tour­ing the lake.

Dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty, the Wan­shou Tem­ple was re­con­structed and ex­panded sev­eral times. Its west­ern part was re­con­structed into a tem­po­rary palace dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Qian­long. As a re­sult, it be­came a large im­pe­rial tem­ple, where Em­peror Qian­long of the Qing Dy­nasty held birth­day cel­e­bra­tions for his mother in the 16th and 26th years of the Qian­long Pe­riod.

Peo­ple may won­der what makes the Wan­shou Tem­ple so at­trac­tive.

When en­ter­ing the tem­ple's gate, visi­tors are met with carved beams and painted rafters, wind­ing cor­ri­dors, pavil­ions hous­ing ste­les with cal­lig­ra­phy writ­ten by em­per­ors, rock­eries built of blue stone and an un­der­ground palace, as well as pine and cy­press trees.

The tem­ple can be di­vided into three parts: east­ern, cen­tral and west­ern. The cen­tral part is the main part. In­side the main gate there are seven court­yards, which, from south to north con­tain the Hall of Heav­enly King, Ma­havira Hall, Wan­shou Pavil­ion, Great Med­i­ta­tion Hall, Im­pe­rial Stele Pavil­ion, Hall of Ami­tayus, and Wan­shou Tower. Each hall also has a side hall on ei­ther side. The east­ern part in­cludes the Ab­bot Court­yard and Gar­den, where the monks re­side. The west­ern part was re­con­structed into the Tem­po­rary Palace Court­yard dur­ing the Qian­long Pe­riod. In front of the tem­ple is the Changhe River, where there once stood a dock. Each early sum­mer, the em­peror and his mother would stop and rest here whilst trav­el­ling by boat from the For­bid­den City to the Sum­mer Palace to es­cape the sum­mer heat.

When en­ter­ing the Wan­shou Tem­ple's main gate, one sees the Hall of Heav­enly King. A bell tower stands to the left in front of the hall and a drum tower to its right where the Big Yon­gle Bell, also known as the “King of Bells,” once hung. When pass­ing the Hall of Heav­enly King, one will see the Ma­havira Hall, which houses clay stat­ues of the Bud­dha of the Past, Present and Fu­ture, the 18 arhats, and Aval­okites­vara fac­ing to the north. The columns on their sides bear a

cou­plet writ­ten by Em­peror Qian­long.

The Wan­shou Pavil­ion be­hind the main hall was re­built sev­eral years ago. The Great Med­i­ta­tion Hall be­hind the pavil­ion is where lec­tures on the su­tras are held. Be­hind the hall are cen­turies-old rock­eries and pine and cy­press trees. Be­hind the Great Med­i­ta­tion Hall is the last court­yard, which in­cludes a group of rock­eries sym­bol­is­ing the three Bud­dhist Moun­tains—pu­tuo, Emei and Qingliang. On the rock­eries are three halls. The main hall is the Aval­okites­vara Hall, the hall on the left is the Man­jushri Hall and the hall on the right is the Sa­manta bhadra Hall. Be­hind the rock­eries are the Qian­long Im­pe­rial Stele Pavil­ion, Hall of Ami­tayus, Guangxu Im­pe­rial Stele Pavil­ion and Thou­sand-bud­dha Pavil­ion. On each side of the Hall of Ami­tayus is a west­ern-style gate built in the same year dur­ing the Qian­long Pe­riod as the Xiyang Lou ( West­ern Man­sions) of the Old Sum­mer Palace. These gates are char­ac­terised by a fu­sion of Chi­nese and West­ern el­e­ments. Walk­ing through the gate, one en­ters the cov­ered cor­ri­dors wind­ing up the hill and pavil­ions to the west, or the forested earthen hill to the east.

In the west­ern part is the tem­po­rary dwelling palace built dur­ing the Qian­long Pe­riod of the Qing Dy­nasty. Be­hind this are cov­ered cor­ri­dors wind­ing up the hill on both sides, a small pavil­ion and the rear tower. It is said that dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty, Em­press Dowa­ger Cixi would ap­ply her cos­met­ics here, hence its name “Dress­ing Tower.” Fur­ther back are the Hall of Great Mercy and its side halls. In the court­yard there is a well­house where the em­peror was lec­tured on the Bud­dhist scrip­tures. In the east­ern part is the Ab­bot Court­yard, in front of which is a large din­ing hall, kitchen and dor­mi­tory for the monks. In the cen­tre is the din­ing room, front room and the south room. Be­hind the din­ing room there is an earthen hill with a de­tached court­yard.

With such a rig­or­ous lay­out, the Wan­shou Tem­ple re­mains a place of both his­tor­i­cal in­ter­est and at­trac­tive scenery.

In 1985, the Bei­jing Art Mu­seum was built here and opened to the pub­lic. A com­pre­hen­sive art mu­seum, it houses nearly 50,000 pre­cious his­tor­i­cal relics dat­ing from prim­i­tive times up to the Qing Dy­nasty, but pri­mar­ily from the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties. The mu­seum's col­lec­tion in­cludes cal­li­graphic works, paint­ings, rub­bings of stone in­scrip­tion, let­ters writ­ten by prom­i­nent in­di­vid­u­als, im­pe­rial tex­tiles and em­broi­deries, im­pe­rial porce­lain, an­cient fur­ni­ture, coins, seals, bronze­ware, jade items, Bud­dhist stat­ues and snuff bot­tles as well as bam­boo, wooden, ivory and horn items.

Prince Gong’s Man­sion Ex­cel­lent Feng Shui Prin­ci­ples

In an­cient times, Chi­nese peo­ple greatly val­ued feng shui when build­ing houses and gar­dens. It is some­times said that Bei­jing has two dragon veins: One is an Earth Dragon, i.e. the dragon vein of the Im­pe­rial Palace. The other is a Wa­ter Dragon, i.e. a line that con­nects Houhai and Bei­hai— Prince Gong's Man­sion falls pre­cisely on

the line con­nect­ing these two. For this rea­son, the man­sion is be­lieved to be well­lo­cated in terms of feng shui. His­tor­i­cal records state: “The cres­cent-shaped river sur­round­ing the (Prince Gong's) man­sion is like a coiled dragon, and the West­ern Hills in the dis­tance are like a crouch­ing tiger.” A grand tem­ple once stood here dur­ing the Yuan and Ming dy­nas­ties that was at­trac­tive to Bud­dhist wor­ship­pers and tourists, in­clud­ing em­per­ors. How­ever, the tem­ple grad­u­ally fell into dis­use around the mid­dle of the 16th cen­tury and be­came a work­shop sup­ply­ing goods to the Ming court.

In around the 40th year of Em­peror Qian­long's reign, an of­fi­cial by the name of Heshen (1750–1799), who was highly favoured by the em­peror, set­tled on this piece of land not far from the im­pe­rial palace, and bought many es­tates here at high prices, fi­nally build­ing the well-known “He's Man­sion” here. Ac­cord­ing to feng shui, the pres­ence of wa­ter helps gen­er­ate pros­per­ity. As such, the ponds in Prince Gong's Man­sion and the wa­ter around the Huxin Pavil­ion which is di­verted from the Yuquan Lake, sym­bol­ise an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth.

In 1776, Heshen be­gan build­ing his man­sion to the west of Qian­hai and in front of Houhai. How­ever, fol­low­ing the death of Em­peror Qian­long in 1799, Heshen was re­moved from power, his man­sion was searched and his prop­erty con­fis­cated. Of­fi­cial records state that the wealth con­fis­cated from his es­tate in­cluded 800 mil­lion taels of sil­ver, equiv­a­lent to around 15 years of the rev­enues of the Qing court. For this rea­son, there is a say­ing that “Heshen's down­fall brought wealth to Em­peror Ji­aqing” (reign: 1795–1821). Later that year, Heshen was or­dered to com­mit sui­cide by the em­peror, and his man­sion was given to Em­peror Ji­aqing's younger brother Prince Qingxi (1766–1820).

But what does this man­sion that ev­ery­one wants to own ac­tu­ally look like?

Prince Gong's Man­sion cov­ers a to­tal area of 60,000 sq.m. The liv­ing quar­ters are lo­cated in the south and the gar­dens are in the north. The man­sion's houses are grand and sim­ply dec­o­rated—not as re­splen­dent as those in the im­pe­rial palace. The el­e­gant and nat­u­ral Cui­jin Gar­den be­hind the man­sion, with its wa­ter, hills, tall trees, wind­ing cor­ri­dors and pavil­ions, is land­scaped in a typ­i­cal Chi­nese style.

In par­tic­u­lar, the man­sion's back gar­den, built in the style of the Ning­shou Palace in the im­pe­rial palace, is highly artis­tic in terms of both lay­out and de­sign. The gar­den is sur­rounded by ar­ti­fi­cial hills in the east, south and west, and in­cludes a cave in its cen­tre built us­ing rocks from Fang­shan. From the hill­top plat­form one can get a panoramic view of the whole gar­den. The gar­den can also be di­vided into east­ern, cen­tral and west­ern parts. The cen­tral part fea­tures a West­ern-style white mar­ble arch as the en­trance to the gar­den, and in­cludes a stele with the Chi­nese char­ac­ter 福 ( fu, “for­tune”) based on the cal­lig­ra­phy of Em­peror Kangxi. In front of the stele are the Dule Peak (Peak of Soli­tary Joy) and the Bat Pond, be­hind which are the Lü­tian Xiaoyin (lit. “Green Sky for Her­mits,” also known as the Moon Invit­ing Plat­form) and the Bat Hall. The Grand Opera Tower in the east­ern part is grace­fully dec­o­rated, and fea­tures flow­er­ing vines. A smaller gar­den is then made up of the Ming­dao Study south of the opera tower, Path­way to Seclu­sion, Chuiqing Shade, Yinx­i­ang Zuiyue (Pavil­ions for En­joy­ing Flow­ers and the Moon) and the Li­ubei Pavil­ion. The gar­den's an­cient trees, rock­eries, clear wa­ter, pavil­ions, ter­races and wind­ing cor­ri­dors, make it an at­trac­tive tourist des­ti­na­tion.

The Yonghe La­masery Where Dragons Hide

Lo­cated in the north­east cor­ner of Bei­jing, the Yonghe La­masery is an ex­tra­or­di­nary, time-hon­oured tem­ple that has long at­tracted many Bud­dhist wor­ship­pers.

In 1694, Em­peror Kangxi built a man­sion on this site and gave it to his fourth son, Prince Yong, which be­came known as Prince Yong's Man­sion. In 1725, dur­ing the third year of Em­peror Yongzheng's reign, the man­sion was re­pur­posed into a tem­po­rary dwelling palace called the Yonghe Palace. Af­ter Em­peror Yongzheng's death in 1735, his cof­fin was placed here, and so the green glazed tiles in the ma­jor halls were re­placed with yel­low ones. As Em­peror Qian­long was also born here, the Yonghe La­masery is as­so­ci­ated with these two em­per­ors, and be­came “a blessed place where dragons hide.” The halls have yel­low roof tiles and red walls, like the im­pe­rial palaces in the For­bid­den City.

In 1744, the Yonghe Palace was turned into a la­masery. The screen wall was dis­man­tled, and the Zhao­tai Gate was con­structed; a stele pavil­ion, bell tower and drum tower were built; the halls were sub­stan­tially ren­o­vated; and 800plus rooms, in­clud­ing a monks' dor­mi­tory, print­ing room and li­brary, were added. Em­peror Qian­long gave it the Ti­betan name “Gedan Jingqialin,” mean­ing “Yonghe La­masery.” To af­ford the tem­ple a spe­cial role, Em­peror Qian­long granted it very high sta­tus in terms of ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­li­gion. The la­masery was placed di­rectly be­neath the Court of Ter­ri­to­rial Af­fairs (the high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive body in charge of na­tional Mon­go­lian and Ti­betan af­fairs), and a min­is­ter was ap­pointed to be re­spon­si­ble for the af­fairs of the Yonghe La­masery, usu­ally from the princes. The la­masery be­came the supreme Bud­dhist tem­ple in the mid- and late-qing Dy­nasty.

The Yonghe La­masery houses many stele in­scrip­tions and in­scribed boards, al­most all hand­writ­ten by em­per­ors. It also has a large num­ber of ex­quis­ite Bud­dhist stat­ues, thangkas, scrip­tures and other Bud­dhist arte­facts, items left be­hind by the 6th Panchen Lama, the 7th and 13th Dalai La­mas dur­ing vis­its to Bei­jing, Tantric stat­ues, and items for use in Bud­dhist fes­ti­vals. It is the most im­por­tant Ti­betan Bud­dhist mu­seum in China, and re­mains a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for Bud­dhist wor­ship­pers and tourists from home and abroad. To­day, one can still see many la­mas from Mon­go­lia in the Yonghe La­masery.

The first day of the first lu­nar month marks the be­gin­ning of a new year. Dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty, the court would choose 36 monks from the Yonghe La­masery on this day to chant “The New Year Su­tra“in the Zhongzheng Hall. At 2 a.m., the monks would en­ter the hall and chant “The Ya­man­taka Su­tra“and “The Palden Lhamo Su­tra“un­til day­break. Bud­dhists would also come here to wor­ship the Bud­dha, burn in­cense and chant su­tras.

Nat­u­rally, tourists com­ing to the Yonghe La­masery will tour its build­ings first. The build­ings and art­work in the

la­masery are a com­bi­na­tion of Han Chi­nese, Ti­betan, Mon­go­lian and Manchu styles. Its build­ings can be di­vided into east­ern, cen­tral and west­ern parts. The cen­tral part con­tains seven court­yards and five groups of halls con­sti­tut­ing a cen­tral axis, with side halls and wings on ei­ther side. Ev­ery hall has its own spe­cific func­tion.

As a holy Bud­dhist site, the Yonghe La­masery boasts many pre­cious arte­facts. On en­ter­ing the la­masery's first gate, visi­tors can see a large pavil­ion in front of the Yonghe Hall (Hall of Har­mony and Peace). The pavil­ion houses a large stele, whose four sides are in­scribed with the text On La­mas by Em­peror Qian­long in Chi­nese, Manchu, Mon­go­lian and Ti­betan, re­spec­tively. The text de­scribes the ori­gin, func­tion and canons of La­maism. Lo­cated in the cen­tre of the pavil­ion is the stele, erected in 1792 it is a square col­umn, 6.2 m tall and 1.45 m wide on each side. The north side of the stele bears the text in Chi­nese; the south side, Manchu; and the other two sides, Mon­go­lian and Ti­betan. The Chi­nese text, in­clud­ing the main text and an­no­ta­tions, is based on the cal­lig­ra­phy of Em­peror Qian­long. The main text has a to­tal of 693 Chi­nese char­ac­ters in Song style each the size of a ping-pong ball, and the an­no­ta­tions con­tain a to­tal of 1,489 char­ac­ters in reg­u­lar script, each the size of a fin­ger­nail.

Be­sides the stele, the la­masery also con­tains three fine wood carv­ings.

The Zhaofo Tower was where Em­peror Qian­long's mother Lady Nio­huru (1692–1777, also known as Em­press Xiaoshengx­ian) would wor­ship the Bud­dha. The huge niche for the Bud­dhist statue in the north wall of the hall, carved in goldrimmed nanmu wood, reaches the ceil­ing and fea­tures 99 carved golden dragons in dif­fer­ent shapes.

The Falun Hall, com­monly known as the “Da­jing Hall,” is where the monks gather to chant the su­tras. Be­hind the seated cop­per statue of Mas­ter Tsongkhapa is a 2.5 x 3 m wood carv­ing. This is the FiveHun­dred-arhat-hill, a carv­ing made of red san­dal­wood with stat­ues of 500 arhats made from five dif­fer­ent met­als (gold, sil­ver, cop­per, iron, and tin).

The statue of Maitreya Bud­dha is the most out­stand­ing wood carv­ing in Yonghe La­masery. The statue is 18 m tall, and ex­tends a fur­ther 8 m be­low the ground. The statue was carved in san­dal­wood pre­sented by the 7th Dalai Lama, Kel­sang Gy­atso in the 15th year of the Qian­long Pe­riod.

In front of the statue of Mas­ter Tsongkhapa in the Falun Hall is the statue of Sakya­muni Bud­dha, which is the most pre­cious trea­sure in the la­masery. Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal records, it was pre­sented by Ti­betan King Pho-lha-nas (1689–1747) the year af­ter the Yonghe Palace was turned into a la­masery nearly 300 years ago.

To­day, although the im­pe­rial house­hold is no more, the Yonghe La­masery still re­mains a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for Bud­dhists, a sit­u­a­tion that be­gan back dur­ing the Qian­long Pe­riod of the Qing Dy­nasty.

The For­bid­den City, the largest and most-in­tact, an­cient, wooden struc­ture com­plex in the world

The Sum­mer Palace

The Ling’en Palace at the Changling Mau­soleum

Bei­hai Park

The en­trance to the Wan­shou Tem­ple

Prince Gong’s Man­sion

The Yonghe La­masery, which was for­merly Em­peror Yongzheng’s man­sion

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