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Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan Park)

2012-10-08 print

Situated in the east part of western hills, 28 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of the Beijing City, Fragrant Hills Park is a large park of hills and forest covering 160 hectares (395.4 acres). Both its natural sceneries and cultural relics are abundant. Xianglu Peak (Incense Burner Peak), 557 meters (1827.4 feet) high, is its highest peak.

The park was first built in 1186 in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) and later extended to a large scale in the Yuan and Ming dynasties. In 1745, Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) ordered the addition of many new halls, pavilions and gardens and gave it a new name, Jingyi Garden (Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure). Unfortunately, in 1860 and 1900 after the Summer Palace and the Yuanming Yuan (the Old Summer Palace) were set on fire, lots of relics in the Fragrant Hills were damaged by foreign troops. Since 1949, with a half-century's restoration and development by Chinese government, Fragrant Hills Park has been recognized as one of the ten most famous parks in Beijing.

Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan Park)

The most spectacular natural scenery in the Fragrant Hills Park is the red smoke tree leaves over the mountains. When autumn arrives, fiery red leaves blanket the entire mountain. Every year, thousands of tourists come to the park. The cable cars are a great way to take in the beautiful scenes.

Visitors may take two main routes to explore the park. The first one is to go along the north route, where visitors will see Spectacles Lake (Yanjing Lake), Study of Reading Heart (Jianxin Zhai), Bright Temple (Zhao Miao), etc. Spectacles Lake is a lake divided half by a bridge. Study of Reading Heart was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was noted as the park inside Fragrant Hills Park. Bright Temple is a large Tibetan style lamasery complex built in 1780 as the residence for the sixth Panchen Lama during his visits to Emperor Qianlong. Buildings in the complex have partially been burned down. Among the surviving treasures are a majestic glazed-tiled archway in front of the complex, a Tibetan style terrace and a glazed-tiled pagoda. Bells hung on the eaves of the pagoda chime in breeze.

Another route leads to the south area of the park. Main attractions along the route include Tranquility Green Lake (Jingcui Lake), Shuangqing Villa, Fragrant Temple, Incense Burner Peak, etc. This route is a little hard for the highest peak, Incense Burner Peak. However it is worthwhile to try. One of the 'must see' points of interest is the Shuangqing Villa, which is attractive not for its natural beauty but more for its place in Chinese history - it was once the residence of Chairman Mao Zedong as well as an early sight for the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

The alluring beauty of Fragrant Hills Park waits for you to appreciate all it has to offer.

Fragrant Hill is one the most famous places in China to see the red leaves. Red Leaves Festival is held every Mid-October to early November. That is the busiest time of Fragrant Hills Park. Travelers had better go there in week days to avoid great number of visitors in the weekends.

Best places to see red leaves in the park:

1. Tranquility Green Lake (Jingcui Lake) - Walk 5 minutes from the east gate of the park, you will arrive in the lakeside. It is the nearest from the park entrance. The lake area is surrounded by hills in three directions, so, you need to find a good point of view to see and take pictures.

Best time to see red leaves: circa October 25 - November 9

2. Fragrant Hills Temple (Xiangshan Temple)

The temple is in the south hill foot close to Shuangqing Villa. First built in Tang Dynasty, the temple is the origin of Fragrant Hill's culture. Be cautious of many steps in this area.

Best time to see red leaves: circa October 18 - November 2

3. Heshun Gate:

It is on the south hillside, 300 meters above the ground. It is close to the red leave trees.

Best time to see red leaves: circa October 25 - November 9

4. Yuhua Xiu:

This is the largest flat area in the park and the road to it from the east gate of the park is even, within 20 minutes' walk along the middle road. There is broad field of vision.

Best Time to see red leaves: October 18 - November 4

5. Xiangwu Ku (literally Fragrant Mist Cave)

It has classical garden environment on the hillside. It takes over half an hour to climb up to this place.

Best time to see red leaves: October 15 - November 4

Recommended red leaves watching routes:

Biyun Temple

Route 1: East gate of Fragrant Hill Park - Jingcui Lake - Shuangqing Villa - Xiangshan Temple - Heshun Gate - hill top

Tips: The route takes about two hours. Need to climb up the hill.

Route 2: East gate of Fragrant Hill Park - Yuhua Xiu - Xiangwu Ku - hill top

Tips: This is a meek route and suitable for family going together.

Route 3: North gate of the Fragrant Hill Park - cable car station - hill top

Tips: It is 5 minutes' walking distance from the north gate of the park southward to the cable car. By cable, you can get to the hill top nearly 20 minutes later. You can have a bird-eye view of Biyun Temple (Temple of Azure Clouds) and overlook the red leaves afar.

     Keywords: Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan P


    

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