01 December 2017

China revisited - Part 1

During the recent Raya hols the Mrs and i decided to take a trip to the great Chinese mainland.
This will be a holiday and not an adventure trip so a lot of touristy sights and relaxing.
As usual we have to get there via the long airport waiting and flying. 

Day 1



Get her a good seat and she zzzzzzzzzzzzz

We reach at night and are met at the airport and taken to downtown Beijing.
Check in and continue the zzzzzzzzz

Day 2

After brunch our car arrives and we start our tour .
A late start as we came late last night .

A quaint Chinese cop car .
Meant for the tiny side streets .

Our first stop.

The Yonghe Temple , also known as the Yonghe Lamasery, or popularly as the Lama Temple, is a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism located in Dongcheng DistrictBeijingChina. The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.

Actually quiet.

Some devotees and tourist .

Lions .

Nicely decorated pagoda.

Ancient inscriptions on stone.

Prayer halls all around...

...with a fountain in the center .

Tibetan prayer wheel .

We go into one of the temples .

Highly decorated ceilings .

These are all different temples .

The Yonghe Temple is arranged along a north-south central axis, which has a length of 480 metres. The main gate is at the southern end of this axis. Along the axis, there are five main halls which are separated by courtyards: the Gate Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghemendian), the Hall of Harmony and Peace(Yonghegong), the Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian), the Hall of the Wheel of the Law(Falundian), and the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happiness (Wanfuge).

The Gate Hall of Harmony and Peace is the southernmost of the main halls, it served originally as the main entrance to the monastery. In the center of the hall stands a statue of the Maitreya Buddha, along the walls statues of the four Heavenly Kings are arranged.

The Hall of Harmony and Peace is the main building of the temple. It houses three bronze statues of the Buddhas of the Three Ages, the statue of the Gautama Buddha (Buddha of the Present) is in the center, it is flanked by the statue of Kasyapa Matanga (Buddha of the Past, right) and the Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future, left). Along the sides of the hall, the statues of the 18 Arhats are placed. A mural in the hall shows the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

Now you see how large it is .

A nicely decorated entrance .

Right next door we visit this .

The Temple of Confucius at Beijing  is the second largest Confucian Temple in China, after the one in Confucius' hometown of Qufu.
The temple was built in 1302, and officials used it to pay their respects to Confucius until 1911. The compound was enlarged twice, during the Ming and Qing dynasties and now occupies some 20,000 square meters. From 1981 until 2005,[1] the Temple of Confucius also housed part of the art collection of the Capital Museum. It stands on Guozijian Street near the Imperial Academy.

Dragon carvings. 

Weapons of ye olde days .

The same decorations follow .

The complex includes four courtyards aligned along a central axis. From south to north, noteworthy structures includes the Xianshi Gate , Dacheng Gate (Gate of Great Accomplishment,, Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Accomplishment,  and Chongshengci  Inside the temple there are 198 stone tablets positioned on either side of the front courtyard, and they contains more than 51,624 names of jinshis (advanced scholars) of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and 14 stone Steele pavilions of the Ming and Qing dynasties that hold various historical documents of ancient China.[2]

The temple also contains stone tablets recording the names of many generations of scholars who passed the Imperial Examination, a reproduction of a Western Zhou dynasty stone drum made during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735–96), and stone steles containing the Thirteen Confucian Classics, presented by the city of Jintan in Jiangsu Province.

Notty  :-P

There is set of carved stone drums made between 1736–1795 during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty held within the Gate of Great Accomplishment, and there is also a large collection of ancient Chinese musical instrument located within the Hall of Great Perfection, along with the central shrine to Confucius.

A stone tablet, put on the back of a bixi, inside the Confucius Temple

 Stone tablets recording the names of many generations of scholars who passed the Imperial Examination

Pass through this...

And see this nice arch

The Beijing Guozijian , located on Guozijian (Chengxian) Street in Beijing, China, was the imperial college (Guozijian) during the YuanMing and Qing dynasties, and the last Guozijian of China. Most of the Beijing Guozijian's buildings were built during the Ming Dynasty[1] and it remains an important heritage site in China. 

The Guozijian, often translated into English as the Imperial Academy or Imperial College, was the national central institute of learning in ancient Chinese dynasties. It was the highest institute of learning in China's traditional educational system. Emperors in imperial China would also frequently visit the Guozijian to read Confucian classics to thousands of students

In the center is this .

The Biyong Palace inside the Guozijian

Surrounded by water .

Nice huh .

Lots of koi too .

The inside of the palace .

To the side we see this .

A historical pictorial museum .

The Guozijian was first built in 1306 during the 24th year of Zhiyuan Reign of the Yuan Dynasty, and was reconstructed and renovated on a large scale during Yongle and Zhengtong reigns of the Ming Dynasty

Exam results , ha ha
 reminds me of the bad old days .

After that we head back for dinner and rest. 

Day 3

We make our way through the city of Beijing .

Decorated arches everywhere .

Our car and driver .

A nice name for a place selling beer .

Downtown Beijing .

We stop here.

Wow !!!
Beijing's historic city wall. The gate is situated to the south of Tiananmen Square and once guarded the southern entry into the Inner City. Although much of Beijing's city walls were demolished, Zhengyangmen remains an important geographical marker of the city. The city's central north-south axis passes through Zhengyangmen's main gate. It was formerly named Lizhengmen meaning "beautiful portal".

Tiananmen Square 

Its damned huge .

Gov buildings all around .
The Great Hall of the People is a state building located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It is used for legislative and ceremonial activities by the People's Republic of China (PRC) government and the ruling Communist Party of China. The Great Hall functions as the meeting place for the full sessions of the Chinese parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), which occurs every year during March along with the national session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body. It is also the meeting place of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which, since 1982, has occurred once every five years.

I hate walking .
On the far end-
The National Museum of China flanks the eastern side of Tiananmen Square in BeijingChina. The museum's mission is to educate about the arts and history of China. It is directed by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China.
It is one of the largest museums in the world, and with nearly 7.6 million visitors in 2016, the National Museum of China was the most visited museum in the world

See the end...

That's where the tour actually begins .

Tiananmen Square is a city square in the centre of BeijingChina, named after the Tiananmen ("Gate of Heavenly Peace") located to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. The square contains the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao ZedongMao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China in the square on October 1, 1949; the anniversary of this event is still observed there.[1] Tiananmen Square is within the top ten largest city squares in the world (440,500 m2 – 880×500 m or 109 acres – 960×550 yd).[citation needed] It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.

The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, is the final resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China from 1943 and the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1945 until his death in 1976.
Although Mao had wished to be cremated, his body was embalmed and construction of a mausoleum began shortly after his death. This highly popular attraction is located in the middle of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the capital of China. It stands on the previous site of the Gate of China, the southern (main) gate of the Imperial City during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Monument in front of the mausoleum.

Tiananmen gate

The Monument to the People's Heroes is a ten-story obelisk that was erected as a national monument of the People's Republic of China to the martyrs of revolutionary struggle during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is located in the southern part of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, to the north of Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.

The building covers 171,801 square metres (1,849,239 sq ft) of floor space, it is 356 metres in length and 206.5 metres in width. The centre peaks at 46.5 metres. At the eaves of the main gate hangs the national emblem of the PRC.
The Great Hall of the People consists of three sections.
  1. The central section principally includes the Great Auditorium, the Main Auditorium, the Congress Hall (Standing Committee of SCPCC meets in conference), the Central Hall, the Golden Hall and other main halls.
  2. The northern section consists of the State Banquet Hall, the Salute State Guest Hall, the North Hall, the East Hall, the West Hall and other large halls.
  3. The southern part is the office building of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of China.

Halfway there .

Chairman Mao .

Tian'anmen Gate was the principal entry to the Imperial Palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. 
It is one of the finest monumental gates in the world, extraordinary for its imposing size. Ornamental Columns (huabiao), stone lions and white marble bridges decorate the front. 

Early in the Ming Dynasty, a wooden memorial gate covered in yellow-glazed tiles was built on the present site. Known as the Gate of Receiving Grace from Heaven (Chengtianmen), it burned down, and was later rebuilt in 1465 during the reign of the Ming Emperor Xianzong. 

More lions .

The base of Tian'anmen, pierced with five arched gateways and set on a foundation of white marble, stands 10 meters high. It is built of huge bricks, each weighing approximately 24 kilograms. On top of this massive structure stands a palace-like gate tower with its roof top 33.7 meters above the ground. A low wall surrounding the gate tower encircles a white marble balustrade which frame the gate tower on four sides. The roof is covered with the same imperial yellow-glazed tiles found on every building in the Imperial Palace. 

Just before the southern entrance to Tian'anmen, seven arched bridges, shaped like curving jade belts, cross the Golden River (Jinshuihe). The central bridge is slightly wider than the rest and forms part of the Imperial Way -- the path over which only the emperor could pass. 

One of the more unusual features of Tian'anmen is a pair of 10-meter-high white marble columns (huabiao) topped by a "dish for collecting dew." A carved stone animal known as a "heaven-gazing hou"(a small, lion-like legendary creature) squats inside each dish. These dishes were used to catch the "jade dew" imbibed by the emperor to ensure long life. According to the legend. The "heaven-gazing hou" watched over the emperor's activities when he was away from the palace, hoping he would not overindulge in his pleasures. If the emperor did not return in good time, the creatures would warn him, "Your Majesty, you mustn't spend so much time enjoying yourself. Hurry back and attend to state affairs! We've nearly worn our eyes out waiting for your return!" The "heaven-gazing hou " are also called "Watching for the Monarch's Return," and the stone columns, the "Watching Columns."

Tian'anmen was off limits to commoners as the main entrance to the Imperial Palace during the last two dynasties. Several hundred meters in from stood the "Great Ming Gate." Between the two ran the Imperial Way. 

A map of this huge place.

Just the entry...

The Forbidden City is a palace complex in central Beijing, China. The former seat of Imperial Chinese Dragon Throne from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912, it now houses the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.

Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (over 180 acres). The palace exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Construction lasted 14 years and required more than a million workers

Bridges and waterways abound.

The Forbidden City is a rectangle, with 961 metres (3,153 ft) from north to south and 753 metres (2,470 ft) from east to west. It consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,886 bays of rooms. A common myth states that there are 9,999 rooms including antechambers,

The Forbidden City was designed to be the centre of the ancient, walled city of Beijing. It is enclosed in a larger, walled area called the Imperial City.

The Imperial City is, in turn, enclosed by the Inner City; to its south lies the Outer City.

The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 7.9 metres (26 ft) high city wall and a 6 metres (20 ft) deep by 52 metres (171 ft) wide moat. The walls are 8.62 metres (28.3 ft) wide at the base, tapering to 6.66 metres (21.9 ft) at the top

The hall of supreme harmony.

The design of the Forbidden City, from its overall layout to the smallest detail, was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religiousprinciples, and above all to symbolize the majesty of Imperial power. Some noted examples of symbolic designs include:

Yellow is the color of the Emperor. Thus almost all roofs in the Forbidden City bear yellow glazed tiles. There are only two exceptions. The library at the Pavilion of Literary Profundity  had black tiles because black was associated with water, and thus fire-prevention. Similarly, the Crown Prince's residences have green tiles because green was associated with wood, and thus growth.[

The main halls of the Outer and Inner courts are all arranged in groups of three – the shape of the Qian trigram, representing Heaven. The residences of the Inner Court on the other hand are arranged in groups of six – the shape of the Kun trigram, representing the Earth

The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statuettes led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes represents the status of the building – a minor building might have 3 or 5. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10, the only building in the country to be permitted this in Imperial times. As a result, its 10th statuette, called a "Hangshi", or "ranked tenth" (ChinesepinyinHángshí),[59] is also unique in the Forbidden City

The layout of buildings follows ancient customs laid down in the Classic of Rites. Thus, ancestral temples are in front of the palace. Storage areas are placed in the front part of the palace complex, and residences in the back

Huge .

The collections of the Palace Museum are based on the Qing imperial collection. According to the results of a 1925 audit, some 1.17 million pieces of art were stored in the Forbidden City. In addition, the imperial libraries housed a large collection of rare books and historical documents, including government documents of the Ming and Qing dynasties

The Palace Museum holds 340,000 pieces of ceramics and porcelain. These include imperial collections from the Tang dynasty and the Song dynasty, as well as pieces commissioned by the Palace, and, sometimes, by the Emperor personally. The Palace Museum holds about 320,000 pieces of porcelain from the imperial collection.

Water spouts drain rainwater from upper level platforms on which the principal halls are built.

Throne room .

As we continue our way...

...we see these intricate carvings .

Dragons .

Ancient royal chambers .

And a rock garden.

We finally reach the end .
Those with more stamina can go up the hills on yonder .

The moat of the forbidden city .

Our next ride .

My weight is making him earn his pay , ha ha ha

We visit a ancient part of town .

 We visit a 300-year old courtyard, and experience a 20-minute rickshaw drive through the zigzag and narrow alleys or hutongs.  Hence the name .

Very old courtyard homes .

Lets go in...

Quite cool .

Still in quite good shape .

Ye olde bed .

Passing Shichahai lake .

A really nice quiet place. In the heart of Beijing .

After a long day its back to the hotel and zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Day 4

Bright and early we start our tour .

Here .

Nicely decorated .

Large grounds .

The Temple of Heaven  is an imperial complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, predates Taoism

The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was extended and renamed Temple of Heaven during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century

The Temple grounds cover 2.73 km² of parkland and comprises three main groups of constructions, all built according to strict philosophical requirements:

  • The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter and 38 meters tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails. The original building was burned down by a fire caused by lightning in 1889.The current building was re-built several years after the incident.

Look at the detail.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively. Combined together, the twelve middle and twelve outer pillars represent the traditional solar terms.

All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing the Heaven.

The surrounding park is quite extensive, with the entire complex totaling 267 hectares (660 acres). Some of it consists of playgrounds, exercise and game areas. These facilities are well used by adults, as well as by parents and grandparents bringing children to play. Some of the open spaces and side buildings are often used, particularly in the morning, for choral shows, ethnic dances, and other presentations.

Then we visit here .

The Imperial Vault of Heaven  is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller.

It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances

The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360-metre-long (1,180 ft) raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer

The echo wall .

The dome for this building also has no crossbeams to support the dome.

The Circular Mound Altar  is an outdoor empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, located in BeijingChina. It is part of the Temple of Heaven.

It was constructed in 1530, during the 9th year of the Jiajing Emperor's reign in the Ming dynasty, and enlarged in 1749 (the 14th year of the Qianlong Emperor's reign in the Qing dynasty). The round terrace was first covered with deep blue glazed slabs surrounded with a white marble balustrade when it was expanded. It has a circular perimeter of 534m and a height of 5.2m

Each wall represents something different. The round inner wall represents heaven while the square outer wall represents earth, according to Chinese beliefs and traditions. The three round white marble terraces that make up the altar represents communication with heaven.

To be continued.....

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