Friday, October 05, 2012

The Forbidden City Inner Court [紫禁城后宫] - Last Imperial Palace & Current Palace Museum [故宫博物院] @ Beijing, China

The inner palace of the Qing emperors has always been used as a saucy backdrop for which producers of period dramas exploit for the deceit, treachery, betrayals and politics within the royal harem. 

And i am especially elated to be able to stand in its actual compound!!

Entering the inner palace via the side door! There are two sets of handwriting on the plaque; left is Chinese while right was added during the Qing Dynasty, representing Manchurian, the language of the Manchus. 

Most of them were waiting for their families, friends and/or tour mates to finish their toilet business! 

The tiles were still the yellow glazed type although i noticed there were architectural differences from the outer court; motifs of flowers on the walls etc.

Unlike the wide sparseness surrounding the harmony halls, the inner court was filled with centuries old trees and plants that livened up the environment.

Food and drinks! I was always sourcing for ice cream in Beijing even when the temperature was below 10 degrees celcius! It just felt so shiok! 

Door of Mental Cultivation (养心门) - don't underestimate the significance of what lies behind this door and assume it is an abode of relaxation. 

The placement of this jade held by an intricately carved holder (click to have a better look at the amazing workmanship) might help to relieve some mental stress but i seriously doubt it.

Right behind the door was actually the Hall of Mental Cultivation (养心殿) - a place of great importance in the history of the Qing dynasty. 

It was the place where emperors, starting from Yongzheng, held court and discussed national affairs! Darn, i was always under the impression court was held in a huge hall like the biggest one in the Forbidden City; Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿).

Serious restoration work should be carried out! It's obvious that the paint had fallen off and the supposedly grandeur to the hall was reduced to a regretful state of neglect. 

For goodness sake, this was the hall where the decision to end the Qing dynasty was made! And was also the exact location where Empress Dowager Ci'xi held court on behalf of the young emperors under her control. 

Sun dial outside the Room of Three Rarities (San Xi Tang as translated from 三希堂). The three rarities are not jewels unfortunately and in fact referred to three famous calligraphy works.

Residences for the Empress and the concubines. I was expecting huge courtyards with big rooms that could easily make up a five-room HDB flat or something!

My jaw dropped when i realised how small each room was! The above was the bed for the Empress and all the items behind the glass panels are all antiques! 

And i think i am not the only one.

Heard of the term Jing Zhi Yu Ye (金枝玉叶) which usually refers to a female with very good background? This was a real life example of golden branches and jade leaves!

Down the long passage again, bypassing many doors that could have held fascinating history.

Here we were at the Imperial Garden (御花园) - the final destination for our Forbidden Palace Tour! Now, that's really fast and we missed out far too many notable attractions like Qian Qing Gong etc.

The red line on the Forbidden City map accurately showed the exact route i took for my tour. See how much i have missed out! 

Coming back to the imperial garden; there many displays of big ass rocks and ancient cypress trees (according to an online source, there was one over 400 hundred years old) but the scale of this royal garden was surprisingly small. 

With over forty structures in such constricted space, my carefree soul would have enjoyed a mini adventure of breaking all imperial rules just to explore the area. 

Sadly, i counted less than minutes before we were ushered out of Sheng Wu Men (神武门 or Gate of Divine Prowess); the northern gate of the imperial palace also known as the exit. 

I thought we could climb up to the pavilion on top of Jingshan (景山); an artificial hill that was piled up using the soil excavated from digging the moats and canals during the construction of the Forbidden City. 

Of course it was hardly surprisingly to find that Jingshan was not part of our itinerary! Bloody tour packages. 

Gate of Divine Prowess - the five Chinese characters above the central passage said 故宫博物院, Palace Museum. Do note that this is the exit and you could not enter the palace from this gate. 

It was only 4pm but the sun was already setting for us to bade farewell to the biggest (existing) imperial palace in the world. 

Would i be back to further explore this Oriental beauty? 
I would love to but as a free and easy traveler!!!

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