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road contructions, scams and Qing Dong Ling (Qing dynasty, east tombs)

Beijing Travel Blog

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corn being dried on the road!
Well, it's a long day! The road to the Ching east tombs was not straightforward to say the least. There were some really poor road conditions due to trucks carrying construction material, rocks, sand, etc. so that the air was so think with dust, it was pretty amazing. The trees at the side of the road were so covered in dirt they looked like fake trees. At one point, the road was blocked by some uniform wearing guys saying we had to take a detour through some farm back roads, and the back road was a dirt road, narrow, and bumpy. In the old Chinese saying "buying road money", meaning somebody will block the road and demand some money so you can pass. This happened on the dirt road, they got 5 RMB from us! I suppose the good thing was these people were not carrying weapons, so although not pleasant, we were not in danger.
Approaching on the spirit road to Ging Ling, the tomb for the 2nd emperor of Ching dynasty (but the 1st since they took over China) He was the longest reigning emperor in China's history, 61 years as emperor!


The Qing Dong Ling (Dong means east, Qing is the name of the last dynasty, there is another site west of Beijing) is the burial site of the Qing emperors. It had 4 imperial tombs (there are actually smaller tombs for lesser royalties in the area also). Ling means imperial tomb (they get a special word just for being emperor), each emperor's tomb has a name, which is not related to his real name,  it's just the name of the tomb. Each emperor also has a "year name", one used to count his reign, this is a name he made up when he starts his rule, so we have QianLong year 1,  QianLong year 2, etc. QianLong is this name for his reign. While the emperor's real name is some Manchurian word which most people have never heard of.
The stone stele on the back of the turtle

  1. Xiao Ling (the Shunzhi emperor),the tomb of the 1st Qing emperor,
  2. Jing Ling (Kangxi) the 2nd, and
  3. Yu Ling (Qianlong) the 4th emperor (the famous Qian Long, who ruled for 60 years!) and
  4. Twin Ding Dong Ling tombs (Dowager Empress Cixi and Empress Ci'an).

Qing is the last dynasty of the Chinese dynasties, the rulers of the Ching were Manchus who came from the northeastern corner of China, aka Manchuria. They ruled China for 267 years. The different peoples were segrated in the beginning but eventually some integration occurred. During the Qing, the Manchus were the highest class people,  and the Han (mainstream Chinese people now) were the lowest class, Mongolians and some other northern people were 2nd and 3rd class.
head of the sacred turtle bearing the stone stele of the first Ching emperor
However, it's interesting to note that the ruling emperors made their tombs in the Chinese style, in this area of China east of Beijing, not in Manchuria. The tomb complexes were also of typical Chinese design, very similar to the Ming tombs that most people visit (near the Badaling Great Wall).

There was a real impressive spirit road 5km long, lined with stone animals and people statues leading to the entrance of the tombs. Each tomb has some fancy bridge over a moat, typical Chinese entry gates, pavillions for displaying something about the departed emperor and paying yearly respect to them. The emperor would be buried usually with one or more of his favorite wifes who were already dead or died later. The tombs themselves were dug underground, in what is called underground palace. Most of the tombs had been robbed and opened, and the treasures looted in the early 20th century, however the remains were usually not removed during the robberies.
the main hall of the tomb complex of the first Ching emperor
So in the 2 underground palaces now open, we could still see the stone coffins of the emperor and the dowager.

Since these tombs were so far out of Beijing, I don't really think it is worthwhile to most people to go visit on their own. Besides, they were pretty similar in design and layout, so once you saw one or two, the rest were not so interesting anymore. The entrance fee was also kind of expensive, at 120RMB (for all 5 tombs).
I was most impressed with the long spirit way lined with statues. The style of the buildings also remind people of the Forbidden Palace, of course one is for the dead, another for the living, but there are definitely similar in many places.

For dinner, we went back to Beijing (after a LONG drive because we tried to get around the bad detours, to find the expressway which was under a lot of construction so the traffic was very slow!) and ate at Xiheyaju restaurant, which was a very good Chinese restaurant, with a most delicious Peking duck, along with water boiled fish (with LOTS of peppers). We had a good dinner because we were not expecting food in Tibet to be as delicious.

AndiPerullo says:
What a great review of this awesome place! You should be a travel writer. :)
Posted on: Oct 14, 2007
Andy99 says:
Very interesting story of these tombs and the rulers they represent!
Posted on: Sep 26, 2007
cygnus16 says:
Fascinating!
Posted on: Sep 24, 2007
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corn being dried on the road!
corn being dried on the road!
Approaching on the spirit road to …
Approaching on the spirit road to…
The stone stele on the back of the…
The stone stele on the back of th…
head of the sacred turtle bearing …
head of the sacred turtle bearing…
the main hall of the tomb complex …
the main hall of the tomb complex…
inside the main hall of the first …
inside the main hall of the first…
behind the main hall of the first …
behind the main hall of the first…
looking back, the main hall on the…
looking back, the main hall on th…
through the crack of the door, a p…
through the crack of the door, a …
Another view of the main hall of t…
Another view of the main hall of …
One of the stone generals guarding…
One of the stone generals guardin…
The minister standing guard at the…
The minister standing guard at th…
the tower where the giant turtle h…
the tower where the giant turtle …
the 5 arches bridge leading inside…
the 5 arches bridge leading insid…
The sign showing the emperors lif…
The sign showing the emperor's li…
the courtyard is well worn
the courtyard is well worn
Behind a door in the main hall, so…
Behind a door in the main hall, s…
more worn pavement in the courtyard
more worn pavement in the courtyard
gateway to the 2nd level, where th…
gateway to the 2nd level, where t…
The dragon and phoenix carving in …
The dragon and phoenix carving in…
The bridges over the moat at the 2…
The bridges over the moat at the …
A closer look at the bridge
A closer look at the bridge
Obviously a male elephant
Obviously a male elephant
The splendor of the elephant guard…
The splendor of the elephant guar…
Another look at the spirit way lea…
Another look at the spirit way le…
What the tomb complex of the Qian …
What the tomb complex of the Qian…
A sign for Yu Ling (tomb of Qian L…
A sign for Yu Ling (tomb of Qian …
The main hall, chipped paint
The main hall, chipped paint
gateway to the back where the tomb…
gateway to the back where the tom…
The tomb tower building of the 4th…
The tomb tower building of the 4t…
the sign at the entrance of the un…
the sign at the entrance of the u…
going down the steps in the underg…
going down the steps in the under…
Another sign, inside the undergrou…
Another sign, inside the undergro…
entrance to the coffin room
entrance to the coffin room
A carving on the wall in the under…
A carving on the wall in the unde…
This is what it looks like if you …
This is what it looks like if you…
Sign for the dowager CiXis tomb. …
Sign for the dowager CiXi's tomb.…
inside the complex of the CiXi tom…
inside the complex of the CiXi to…
a side view of the main hall of Ci…
a side view of the main hall of C…
the entrance leading to CiXis tom…
the entrance leading to CiXi's to…
Kevin scratches the chin of the st…
Kevin scratches the chin of the s…
the tower holding the underground …
the tower holding the underground…
This is what it looks like when yo…
This is what it looks like when y…
A view down toward the main hall f…
A view down toward the main hall …
View of surrounding tombs and coun…
View of surrounding tombs and cou…
Another view, showing the main hal…
Another view, showing the main ha…
in the middle of the main spirit w…
in the middle of the main spirit …
Looking right, toward another hill…
Looking right, toward another hil…
This is the impressive spirit way …
This is the impressive spirit way…
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