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Scenic Spots of Fragrant Hill Park

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The various natural scenery during the four seasons makes the park a popular place for citizens to spend their weekends and holidays.Fragrant Hill Due to its high elevation and dense cover of trees, spring arrives late in the area and summer days are always pleasantly cool. The best time to visit the park is late fall, when the smoke tree leaves turn red. The trees make the grandest display of all. There are also groves of apricots, pears, peaches and lilacs adding their fragrance, and the more solemn evergreens, whose contribution to the local beauty is unrestricted by seasonal changes.

The Pavilion of Tranquil Heart(Jian Xin Zhai): It is located in the western part of North Palace Gate and to the north of the Luminous Temple. It was built during the reign of Jiajing in Ming period [1522-1566] and the reconstructed by Emperor Jiaqing in Qing dynasty. The spot perfectly combines the quaint charms of gardens in the South China. A small garden within the park, contains a semi-circular pool surrounded by a covered walkway similar to the one at the Summer Palace. This was used as the Emperor's residence when he visited the park. In front of the pavilion lies the Zhiyutang (fish pond) where red crucian and carps are fed to please the emperor. On the back of the pavilion is the Zhengning (Decency Gathering) Hall. The complex is truely a nice place worth of a visit.

- Luminous Temple (Zhaomiao): This is a Tibetan-style complex built in 1780 as the residence for the Sixth Panchen Lama when he visited Emperor Qianlong. In its center, a Red Terrace rises 10 meters above the ground. A majestic glaze-tiled gateway in front of the complex is famous for its clouds and dragon design. On the slope to the west is a seven-story glazed pagoda, the eaves of which are hung with tiny bells, which tinkle with even the slightest breeze.

- The Tree-Covered Imperial Audience Tablet: Located to the southwest of the Chaoyang Caves, this group of steep cliffs with numerous trees resembles a giant "hu" -the rectangular tablet officials held before themselves in the presence of the emperor.

- Ghost Fear Peak (Guijianchou) : The main peak of Fragrant Hill Park, Ghost Fear Peak had an elevation of 557 meters. Clouds and mist often engulf its precipitously angled cliffs, which give the two large stone excrescences of the peak a resemblance to incense burners.

- Snow-covered Xishan on a Sunny Day
The snow in winter on the Fragrant Hills offers a fascinating view. It was once listed as one of the Eight Famous Spots in the capital of the Yan Dynasty. There is an interesting story about the spot. Although the tablet was erected more than two centuries ago, the "Snow-covered Xishan on a sunny day" inscription made by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty is still glittering. It is said that in 1750, the 15th year during Emperor Qianlong's reigning period, there was no snow in the whole winter and no rainfall during the following spring. The emperor and his ministers were very anxious. One day, Emperor Qianlong led a team to hunt on Xiangshan Mountain to scatter the concerns. After getting out of the Xizhimen, when they were passing the Qinglong Bridge, they found a large piece of snow-white area in the cove of Xiangshan that looked like heavy snow. The emperor was pleasantly surprised and when they hurried to the area, they fund the whiteness was over a hundred thousand almond trees in blossom and the mountain was giving enchanting fragrance. Deeply touched by the scene, Emperor Qianlong gladly wrote down "Snow-covered Xishan on a sunny day".
Some other record indicated that the tablet inscription was made because Emperor was moved by the magnificent view of Xishan after a heavy snow. Whether "Snow-covered Xishan on a sunny day" originated from the splendid view of Xiangshan after a heavy snow or the over 100,000 almond trees in blossom and their enchanting fragrance could not be observed and studied. Anyway, it is a beautiful legend that makes the hills enchanting.

- Incense Burner Peak
The Incense Burner Peak is the summit of the Fragrant Hills. To its west is a precipice nicknamed the Devil Frowning Peak, which is very difficult to climb. On top of the hill is a huge piece of rock, which looks like an incense burner at a distance, so it is also named the Incense Burner Peak. It is 557 metres above sea level, the highest peak among the nearby hills. Up there, visitors can have a magnificent view of the surrounding area.
There are 3 pavilions built there, each with a poetic name. The Chongyang (Double Ninth) Pavilion is a perfect choice for mountain climbing in autumn. Perching on the peak and overlooking below to appreciate what Du Fu has written in his poem about Mountain Tai "Let me climb the top most of TAI and see all the others bow before my knee". Tayun(Floating Clouds) Pavilion, as the name indicates, is peculiar for the beautiful floating clouds which appeared after rain falls. Passing through the pavilion slowly with slight fog and comfortable moisture, the clouds make you wonder yourself standing in a fairyland of heaven. To the southwest of Incense Burner Peak lies the famous Ziyan(purple smoke) Pavilion, which got its name from the poem of Li Bai "The sunlit Censer peak exhales a wreath of cloud;Like an upended stream the cataract sounds loud".

- Terrace
One hundred meters southeast to the Xishanxueqing (west mountain covered with white snow) spot and 450 meters south to the mid-station of cableway there is a 2050-square-meters flat ground for tourists to have drinks or take a short break. The site is the juncture of several routes and thus a must-to-pass place for people. Sitting there you may have a full view to the beautiful scenary around. To the south is the flaming cloud dyed by maple leaves stretching to the sky. To the west is the marvelous Incense Burner Peak. You may also share the happiness of those who sitting in the chairlift in the north, or the excitement of those who claiming triumph on the mountain peak in the east. Besides, the ground offers body fitness facilities and planted with heavy green pines trees, where you can enjoy a cool and pleasant staying.

- Jade Flower Villa
Yuhuaxiu (jade flower villa) was one of the 28 sights in the park. It was the appendix building of Yuhua Temple, which was built during the regime of Qianlong in Qing period. The spot was burned down by the Eight-Power Allied Forces in early 20th centuries. However, the park administration decided to rebuild the site and lauched a restoration project in 1999. The newly-built complex will consist of an entrance archway, Tianwang (the God of Heaven) Hall, Yuhuaxiu, Yaoyue (Inviting Moon) House, Yiwang (Looking into Distance) Pavilion, Yifangxuan(Fragrance Overfilling) Walking Corridor, and etc. It is a truely "Garden within Garden" with enchanting scenary and typical imperial-style architectures. Part of the halls have been successfully restored to their original looks yet some were used to exhibit pieces used by royals. With ideal geographic location and peaceful quietness, the site is a good spot for viewing the charming mountain view and red leaves in late autumn.

- Cuiwei Pavilion
Fragrant HillLocated in the south part of Jingcui lake, Cuiwei(Jade Green) Pavilion is one of the 28 sites of the park. It was built in 1745. Embraced by ancient trees, green woods, valleys and mountain rocks, the spot trickily hides itself among a dense green. Thanks to the heavy woods, the spot is fairly cool in summer.

- Shuangqing Villa - Double Fountains Villa
In the southeast corner of the park is a small pool fed by two springs named Shuangqing or "Two Streams." The water from these springs is not only clear but also rare in north China. It contains no alkali in it. The exquisite compound is complete with hills, springs, trees, rockeries and bamboo. Two fountains in the western part gave its name Shuangqing (Double Fountains). The name plaque is in the handwriting of Emperor Qian Long.

In 1949, the central committee of CPC and China's top leaders chose the villa as their temporary residence before moving to Zhongnanhai. Here the late Chairman Mao and other Chinese leaders did a lot of work for the liberation of whole China and the founding of the People's Republic of China. A huge amount of written works were also produced here by Chairman Mao, such as the famous poet PLA has taken the power over Nanjing. In 1994, Shuangqing Vila was named "A Youth and Children Education Base of Beijing". The villa maintained the original state and furniture of the days when Mao Zedong worked and lived here; there is also the Hexangular Red Pavilion, a place where Mao Zedong had intimate talks with his endeared sons. Here you can also have a look of the "Exhibition on Mao Zedong's Activities in Shuangqing Villa" that records part of the PRC founder's life. The "Exhibition on Mao Zedong's Activities in Shuangqing Vila" is made up of three parts, "From Xibaipo to Xiangshan in Beijing", "Mao Zedong in the Shuangqing Vila", "Life of the National Leaders on Xiangshan". The Exhibition collectively reflects the military talents of Mao Zedong and some other leading proletariat revolutionists to devise strategies and determine the results of battles thousand miles away. It is also an exhibition of the trial and hard working life of the PRC founders.

The park specially opens a store selling books and souvenirs about Mao Zedong. In the villa, the park also plays videos about "Mao Zedong in Shuangqing Villa" and other related programs about historical materials.

- Xiangshan Temple
In 1186 of the Jin Dynasty, the Xiangshan Temple was built here and for a period served as the emperors traveling lodge. In 1745, Emperor Qianlong had a number of large halls; pagodas, memorial archways and leisure pavilions built and changed the name of the area to the Garden of Peacefulness (Jingyiyuan). This complex served the famous Qing ruler as one of his summer palaces and became one of the three favorite hills of Qianlong, beside Jade Spring Mountain (Yuquanshan) and Longevity Hill (Wanshoushan) in the Summer Palace. In late 1800s, it was burned down by British and French invaders.

According to "History of Jin Dynasty", "in March 1186, the construction work on Xiangshan Temple was completed. The emperor visited the temple and granted it the name of "Forever Peace Temple" and offered it 133 hectares of land, 70 chestnut trees, and 20,000 strings of cash." Later, Renzong Emperor of Yuan Dynasty rebuilt the "Forever Peace Temple" on Xiangshan and renamed it "Amrita Temple". Then in the following Ming Dynasty, Fan Hong, a eunuch in charge of rituals "donated some money, bought some materials, and employed some labors to rebuild the temple. The halls, pavilions, corridors, and statues looked brand-new, solemn, and magnificent. When the emperor heard the news and granted the temple a stele with the name of 'Forever Peace Buddhist Temple'." Later, another eunuch, Wang Gongchen, donated some money to repair the temple. During following years, the temple repeatedly got scriptures and additional paintings and statues from the government. Then a eunuch in charge of horses, Zheng Gongtong, was concerned that someday the temple's buildings, lands, and woods may be transgressed and applied to the emperor for protection. The emperor approved the application and the temple's abbot Xiejin was much appreciated for the emperor's great favor. A magnificent ceremony was held to celebrate the issue.

Fragrant HillIn 1677, governors of the Qing Dynasty started to a royal garden in the northwestern suburb of Beijing and the Xiangshan Xannadu was completed, whose scope was around the Xiangshan Temple. Then in 1744, a Xiangshan Engineering Office was established. In the following year, 1745, construction work started in Xiangshan. Two years later, Xiangshan Temple was listed one of the 28 major scenes of Jingyi Garden. Emperor Qianlong granted the temple the name of "Xiangshan Forever Peace Buddhist Temple."
In 1746, in a poem by Emperor Hongli, it was written that "the temple was first built during Shizong Period of the Jin Dynasty according to the mountain's landforms. The temple's major building was made up of 5 floors and look resplendent and magnificent. Looking from blow, visitors can clearly count the floors. The temple once had the name of Forever Peace and Amrita." During the Qianlong Period, the Xiangshan Temple got some repair and it was the top one among the temples in Xishan area.

Xiangshan Temple is to the west of the Yingluo Stone and to its north, there is a towering decorated archway made up of 4 pillars and three rooms. Passing the archway, on both sides of the way to Zhilehao are shops selling various commodities. At the east end of Zhilehao is another towering decorated archway made up of 4 pillars and 3 room. This archway carries a stele written by Qianlong Emperor of Qing Dynasty, "Fragrant Cloud Circulating the Seat". Further up the mountain is the "Buddhist Leading-in Hall" of Xiangshan Temple. The major hall is made up of 3 rooms, and on both sides of the hall are two splay and carved walls. Before the hall are two masts. On the front wall of the hall, there hangs a stele of "Xiangshan Forever Peace Temple". The golden inscription on the blue background was a calligraphy treasure left behind by Emperor Qianlong.

Further up is a three-room "Heaven Emperor Hall" of "Forever Peace Temple". Above the door hang five steles with poem inscriptions made by Emperor Qianlong. The characters are blue, while the background is painted with pink paint. On both sides of the platform behind the hall, there is a bell building and a drum building. Both these buildings are of two floors. On the north side of the road is a square stele pavilion. In it is a royal stele made in 1746 to memorize a famous Buddhist.

Further up again, on the south and north side of the platform, each side stands an octagonal stele with double eaves. Follow the road and climb upward, you will see another towering decorated archway. Behind the archway, there are two 3-room secondary halls to the "Soul Presentation Hall". In the 3-room south secondary hall, there is an altar facing northward in the middle room. Among the 3 rooms of the north secondary hall, there is an altar facing southward in the middle room. Climb the steps, you will see a 7-room "Soul Presentation Hall". In the three rooms in the middle, there is a major altar. Under the eave of the major hall, there is a "Soul Presentation" stele facing eastward. The copper characters were carved on blue backgrounds and the inscription was a calligraphy work of Emperor Qianlong. Outside the hall, there are five bronze sacrifices on stone bases and a large iron censer on a stone base. In front of these sacrifices, there is a stone screen with diamond sutra, left-heart sutra,, and right Kwan-yin scriptures. Behind the screen respectfully engraved a writing brush, candle-igniter, ancient Buddha statues, and statues of Kwan-yin and other Buddha figures as well as compliments made by Emperor Qianlong.

On both sides of the "Soul Presentation Hall", there is a mantle gate. On the high platform behind the hall, there is a 3-room "wide vision" open hall. On the eave of the middle room, there hangs a stele of "Wide Vision" and the blue characters are carved on green background. The stele is also a calligraphy work of Emperor Qianlong. The "wide vision" is connected with corridors on the south and north sides. These corridors wind upward and connect the building of "rosy cloud expressing leisure mind".

The "rosy cloud expressing leisure mind" building is made up 2 floors, each floor with three rooms. On the front eave of the lower floor hangs a "rosy cloud expressing leisure mind" stele that faces eastward. The character is golden while the background is green. The stele is a calligraphy work made by Emperor Qianlong. On the second floor, the outer eave also hangs a stele "Golden Eagle Peak among Clouds" facing eastward. This stele is also of golden characters on green background and a calligraphy work of Emperor Qianlong.

Under the "rosy cloud expressing leisure mind" building, close to the wall there is a 3-room "clean water and bright moon" hall. On the outer eave of the hall hangs a "clean water and bright moon" stele with blue characters on green background. It is a calligraphy work of Emperor Qianlong.

In front of the "clean water and bright moon" hall, there is a hexangular-shaped 3-room building, "Auspicial Fragrant Woods". On the first floor, there is a "Auspicial Fragrant Woods" stele facing eastward. The stele is of blue characters on pink oil background and an inscription of Emperor Qianlong. On the second floor, on the outer eave of the pavilion is a stele of "forever running law wheel" with blue characters on pink oil background. It is also a calligraphy work of Emperor Qianlong. On the internal partition of the 3rd floor, there hangs a stele of "master of benevolence and clever perception" written by Emperor Qianlong. On the outer eave of the pavilion, there is another stele, "the bright Buddhist world" facing eastward, also of golden characters on pink oil background and written by Emperor Qianlong.

Beijing Tour Routes Includes Fragrant Hill:
BD-13. Fragrant Hill, Botanical Garden and Beijing Zoo

Chinatravelkey can add Fragrant Hill on the following tours based on extra 15 USD per person.
BH-1. 3 nights 4 days Beijing tour BH-2. 4 nights 5 days Beijing tour
BH-3. 5 nights 6 days Beijing tour BH-4. 6 nights 7 days Beijing tour
BK-1. 2 days Beijing tour BK-2. 3 days Beijing tour
BK-3. 4 days Beijing tour BK-4. 5 days Beijing tour
BK-5. 6 days Beijing tour BK-6. 7 days Beijing tour

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