A Square Building Is Surrounded By A Flower Bed Beijing Travel – Beihai Park

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Beijing Travel – Beihai Park

Beihai Park is an ancient imperial park adjacent to the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing. With a thousand-year history, Behai Park is China’s oldest classical park and one of the largest and best-preserved parks.

With ancient Buddhist temples, walled cities, exquisite classical gardens, a large lake and imperial palaces, Beihai Park is one of the major tourist attractions in Beijing. If you are in Beijing and have time, I recommend you to visit Beihai Park for at least half a day and enjoy its many attractions.

History

Beihai Park was originally built in 938 by Emperor Huitong of the Liao Dynasty (907-1125). Beihai Park was later transformed into an imperial summer palace for Emperor Dading of the Jin Dynasty (11115–1234) from 1166 to 1179.

After pacifying China and putting much of the country to the sword, Kublai Khan used Beihai Park as the center of the Yuan Dynasty’s new capital of Dadu in 1274. Later, when the Ming Dynasty took over in 1368, Dadu was renamed Beijing and renamed Beihai Park. In a palace garden. Later when the Forbidden City was completed in 1420, Beihai Park was connected to the Forbidden City and the cornerstone of the Imperial City.

The last change to Beihai Park was extensive reconstruction by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. The park was not opened to the public until 1925, after Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796) was one of China’s longest-reigning emperors and the last great emperor, the founding of the Communist Party of China.

Grounds and attractions

Behai Park is about 70 hectares in size and more than half of the area is covered by Behai Lake. In the center of the lake is a large islet or islet called Jade Flower Islet with many parks as main attractions. There are at least 30 major sites in the park so I have only included the major sites worth visiting below.

Yongan Temple or Temple of Eternal Peace

Located on Jade Flower Island and dominating the park’s skyline, Yongan Temple is the main attraction in Behai Park and features the white dagoba that is the symbol of Behai Park.

The temple was built in 1651 by the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty at the request of a Tibetan lama. The emperor granted the lama’s request to prove that he was a devout Buddhist and to unite the various ethnic groups in China that shared Buddhism. The temple is built on the side of Baita Hill and has three levels.

The first level consists of three buildings, the bell tower in the east, the drum tower in the west and the Phalundian (Dhama Wheel Hall) in the middle. The Faludiya is the main structure in the temple and contains images of Shakyamuni Buddha, eight great bodhisattvas and eighteen arhats.

The second level is a courtyard at the top of a steep flight of stairs. The courtyard is surrounded by several buildings and the main building is the Pu En Hall which houses the images of the founder of the Tibetan Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism and his two main disciples.

The third level is a platform on top of the hill with a white dagoba also known as Bai Tai or White Pagoda. The pagoda is 35.9 meters and was erected in 1651 when the temple was built. The pagoda was damaged by earthquakes and rebuilt three times in 1679, 1730, and 1976 during the Tangshan earthquake, despite being strengthened in 1964.

The pagoda is made of white stone and decorated with carvings of sun, moon and flame. At the top of the pagoda is a large ornament with 14 bronze bells hanging from it. This ornament is clearly visible in all the photos of the white dagoba. A secret shrine inside the pagoda contains Buddhist scriptures, the remains of cremated monks, their shrouds and alms bowls.

Tiancheng City (City of Goodwill)

On a small hill near the southern entrance to the park is a complex surrounded by 4.6 m high walls called Tiancheng City. The city of Tiancheng was originally built during the Jin Dynasty almost 900 years ago as part of the Danning Palace and has since undergone many renovations and transformations. After the main building was destroyed in 1669, the most recent reconstruction took place in 1690

The perimeter of the city is 276 meters and its enclosed area is 4,500 square meters. There are only four large and four small buildings in the city.

The main building is the Hall of Divine Light which has a 1.6 meter high Bhudda, made from a single piece of jade inlaid with precious stones. The statue was gifted to Emperor Guangzhou by the King of Cambodia. The statue was damaged by foreign barbarians (Eight Nation Alliance) during the battle for Beijing in 1900. The hall is mostly empty with an altar for tourists and (I guess) a statue in the back.

Another major attraction here is a jade jar made in 1265. Kublai Khan kept a jar in the hall on the Jade Flower Islet which he used as a wine vessel for his feasts and parties. The jar was soon lost and was not found until 1745, and the pavilion in 1749. The jade jar is elliptical in shape, 0.7 meters high, 4.93 meters in circumference and weighs 3.5 tonnes. Imagine how much wine was in the jade jar and how many hangovers they had!

The city of Tiancheng is also home to the Marquis of Shade. An over 800-year-old 20-meter-tall Chinese pine tree that kept Emperor Qianlong cool on hot summer days and relieved his fatigue during his visit. In gratitude the emperor gave the lucky tree the title of Marquis of Shade.

Nine Dragon Walls or Screens

In ancient China, three walls or screens were created with nine dragons playing in the clouds. These walls are made of glazed tiles of seven different colors. The other two walls are in the Forbidden City and Datong City (Shanxi Province). The wall was built in 1756 and is made up of 424 glazed tiles. Unlike the other two walls, Behai Park’s wall has nine dragons on both sides, not just one side.

The entire park is covered with fascinating and interesting sites, buildings and small gardens so after you’ve seen these three major attractions there’s a lot more to do. Some of the attractions are pretty ordinary and I can’t help but feel like the park management embellished a bit of history and set up a ticket booth to make a little more money.

Ancient Caves of Jade Island There are excellent examples of this. The entrance fee is 5rmb and it takes a full 3 minutes to pass the ancient caves and it’s very slow going. The caves are also full of really intricate statues that look like Chinese garden gnomes. Naturally the cave goes to a shop.

On Jade Flower Island north of Yongan Temple is a chair-like throne guarded by an old woman who charges 5rmb to sit on it and take photos. I found this very interesting so I took a photo of the chair and its ridiculous price. Not one to miss an opportunity, the old lady saw me taking a photo of the chair and insisted I pay 5rmb for the privilege. I had to run down the hill to escape from her.

So my recommendation is to see the three sites listed above, the wonders around the island and the wonders in the north-west section of the lake, one of the best, and just ignore the less interesting spots.

get there

The easiest and most interesting way to reach Beihai Park is to take the subway to Tiananmen Square West Station and walk. Take the north exit next to the northbound road called Nanchang Street. Nanchang Street follows the western moat of the Forbidden City and exits at the southern end of Beihai Park.

The walk takes about 10 to 20 minutes and provides great views of the outskirts of the Forbidden City and some of the hutongs in that part of Beijing.

Tickets and times

The main part of this park is open from 6 am to 10 pm during summer season. Tickets cost 10rmb and many sites in the park will charge between 3rmb and 10rmb.

Officially it will take you 2 to 4 hours to see Behai Park. To personally relax and really enjoy it, you should plan to stay there for at least 4 hours.

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