Fragrance Hills Park and Azure Clouds Temple
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 22 of 24 › view all entries
Since this was not my first time in Beijing, I wanted to go see some of the less visited sites, and avoid the crowds if possible on a weekend.
At the northwestern outskirts of Beijing is Xiang Shan Park (Xiang means fragrant, shan means hill or mountain). It has been a hunting and holiday resort area for the emporers for about 900 years. There was a temple called Fragrance Hill Temple on this hill, which was the best temple on the western side of the city. The temple was destroyed and burned twice, once in 1860 and another in 1900. The first time by the British and French armies in battles against the Ching dynasty, and the second time by the 8 nations joint army (the 8 nations included not only British, French, German, Italian but also the United States!) The Ching dynasty was not in very good shape in those days.
I was glad to visit it today. The weather was nice, not too hot, and only a little breeze. There were many people at the park, but it did not appear over crowded. And there were many trees and flowers in bloom here. Of course now I realized why it was called the Fragrant Hills, it was really very fragrant from the flowering tree called "Zi Ding Xiang". Sitting on a bench surrounded by the flowering trees and bamboos, and listening to birds sing, the leaves russle, what a great experience. I was very happy and took my time walking around in the park. Another great spot was by a lake called Quiet Green Lake just to the left of the East entrance. It was very pretty with a tall willow tree by the water, a pavillion, and flowers around the lake, the lotus in the lake were not in bloom, but one of the peach trees by the lake had pink flowers and red flowers on the same branch, many people took the time to photograph it.
I climbed up to the site of the former temple, which still had some relics, including this stone wall with carvings of buddhas. I stopped mid-mountain and had some tea and cakes, not exactly at where the emporer had rested, but close enough.
There was a temple for Tibentan lama when he visited Beijing. There were writings of 4 languages (Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan and Manchurian) on the stone carving commemorating the temple.
It has taken me 4 hours so far to walk up and down the hill and park. I then visited the Azure Clouds Temple nearby. This temple was built in the year 1331 originally and expanded over the years. A temple is a temple, but this is a fine one with very good looking buddha statues. I don't always like them in temples because most were not so well made, but the ones here are pieces of art, so I was very glad to have come here.
2 hours later (I had been walking around for 6 hours now except for the tea break of about half hour) I left the temple, and headed back to Beijing. Since I had been on my feet all day, I decided to not walk anymore, but took the Hutong tour on the rickshaw.