Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beihai Park [北海公园] & the Nine-Dragon Screen [九龙壁] @ Beijing, China

Beihai Park is yet another imperial garden and was insanely scheduled on the same day as the Summer Palace! So it's hard not to have my interest waning by the time i realised it was just another similar attraction!

This same picture could be easily mistaken as the view of Yufeng Pagoda at the Summer Palace! Anyway, the 40-meter high white stupa is located within Beihai and was built in 1651 as testament of the monarchy's faithful belief in Buddhism.

A customary shot. Typical of any tour package, viewing key attractions from far are always considered as more important than GOING INTO the attractions. So, no, i didn't get to step foot into the white stupa (its official name is White Pagoda).

I wanted to foot paddle a boat too.... It was no joke having to walk like nobody's business on the third day of our trip. I would prefer to just paddle out to the middle of the lake and take a nap under the mid day sun.

Stone steps leading to a vantage point where i can see quite a number of people relaxing in a temperature of roughly 15 degree Celsius! That's such a blissful temperature for sleeping.

In Beihai, you would see a lot of felines! They had such well groomed appearance that should they be in Singapore, they would have been adopted in mere days! 

Two spectacular pavilions caught my eye and it was only when i checked out google maps that i realised they are in Jingshan park; the one i mentioned at the end of my post on the Forbidden City.

Now going into the non-lake section. 

Unlike other stone lions that have a stern expression, this one was giving a hearty laugh! I can bet with you that this is a female lion - if you have been following my posts closely, you would know the answer why. 

The 9-dragon screen at the Forbidden City is legendary but the one i was brought to in Beihai was much older by 17 years (ya, it is a big deal)! There is a third one in Shanxi which is the original (over 600 years old) and the biggest.

Here it is! Due to the limitation of my camera lens, this is the best angle i can manage in order to capture the splendor of the entire wall. 

Basic information - the wall is 5.96 meters tall, 25.52 meters long and nine dragons were portrayed instead of ten was because it was believed that the number 9 signifies the highest level.

The wall is 1.6 meters thick! 

This temple houses a few Buddha statues and was mentioned to be built entirely from Nanmu; an expensive wood that takes ages just to expand a little. The black roof symbolizes the water element in Fengshui and hence implies that the wooden temple would not be burnt by fire.

Instead of cement, the floor was laid with big slabs of marble. And don't ask me why the statue's hair has such a brilliantly blue colour!

A platform with nothing except a sign that said "Love the relics. Do not touch". 

Bronze urn outside the temple. It could be a holder of water in case of a real fire, just like the way the vats work in the Forbidden City

One thing i am more sure - it has money which would likely mean that visitors are using it as a wishing well! 

Bell Tower - built in 1753, it was said to enshrine a bodhisattva that helps to grant wishes. My mum walked past without noticing it or she would definitely pay the 10 RMB to ring the bell for blessings.

I didn't hear any bell being rung but i did see charms tied to the trees! For me, i always find such charms as beautifying the trees by adding colourful vibrancy to them. 

Exiting the area. There was a small group of people practising kungfu using wooden poles. 

Enjoying the willow trees along the lake side again. I was so tired by this time and looking forward to having a good rest in the hotel! 

Hall of Spiritual Peace - it was supposed to be the most exquisite section in Beihai and all i did was to rush past it! Hurray!!

The final picture for Beihai - walking across the bamboo enclaves towards the main exit. 


To give you a better picture of how close Beihai is to the Forbidden City, check out the satellite picture taken from google maps! 

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