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Fragrance Hills Park and Azure Clouds Temple

Beijing Travel Blog

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Map of Xiang Shan park, the highlighted route is my route in the park, from lower left to lower right. The leg sticking out on the right is the Azure Clouds temple.

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.

The main building in Xiang Shan park, where the emporer would do his business and meet officials while he is here on vacation
The temple was not rebuilt, but the site has remained. The area became a park in 1956.

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.

A bi-color peach blossom tree and the Serene Green Lake (near lower left of the map)

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.

The Pavillion, flowers and 3 fake cranes. Looking pretty natural. This photo was taken with negative film. The colors are much richer than the next one taken with a 300 USD digital camera.
There was also a special hall with 500 Arhats, all covered in gold foil. And these were well made too! Each is an individual. Again I was happy to see these were not stamped out or made by less capable hands.

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.

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Map of Xiang Shan park, the highli…
Map of Xiang Shan park, the highl…
The main building in Xiang Shan pa…
The main building in Xiang Shan p…
A bi-color peach blossom tree and …
A bi-color peach blossom tree and…
The Pavillion, flowers and 3 fake …
The Pavillion, flowers and 3 fake…
A pavillion with flowers and fake …
A pavillion with flowers and fake…
These flowering trees made this pa…
These flowering trees made this p…
Steps leading to the ruins of the …
Steps leading to the ruins of the…
display showing what Xiang Shan te…
display showing what Xiang Shan t…
A cypress tree which bends as if i…
A cypress tree which bends as if …
The Sal Tree Stele, one of the few…
The Sal Tree Stele, one of the fe…
The description of the Sal Tree St…
The description of the Sal Tree S…
It has 4 languages carved on it, I…
It has 4 languages carved on it, …
The base of the Sal Tree Stele
The base of the Sal Tree Stele
Another side of the base of the Sa…
Another side of the base of the S…
The Stone Screen, another relic no…
The Stone Screen, another relic n…
A part of whats carved on the sto…
A part of what's carved on the st…
Descriptive sign for the Stone Scr…
Descriptive sign for the Stone Sc…
The cleared foundation of the temp…
The cleared foundation of the tem…
A corridor of the tea house mid mo…
A corridor of the tea house mid m…
The tea house in mid mountain
The tea house in mid mountain
The tea was expensive at 50RMB per…
The tea was expensive at 50RMB pe…
An outdoor restaurant below the te…
An outdoor restaurant below the t…
Here you can see the tea house as …
Here you can see the tea house as…
The small building where the empor…
The small building where the empo…
The interior of the emporers mid …
The interior of the emporer's mid…
A description of the Yuhuaxiu area…
A description of the Yuhuaxiu are…
Blooming flowering peach tree in t…
Blooming flowering peach tree in …
The description of the the Zhao Mo…
The description of the the Zhao M…
The archway to the monastery
The archway to the monastery
The outside pool of the Monastery
The outside pool of the Monastery
Blooming flowers in the park
Blooming flowers in the park
The fish pond in one of the buildi…
The fish pond in one of the build…
The Eyeglasses pond, this is only …
The Eyeglasses pond, this is only…
The sign for the Azure Clouds Temp…
The sign for the Azure Clouds Tem…
The main temple in the Azure Clouds
The main temple in the Azure Clouds
The statue of the buddha and two o…
The statue of the buddha and two …
Some other statues of other gods
Some other statues of other gods
Toward the last building in the Az…
Toward the last building in the A…
A sign saying in 2005 a stone stat…
A sign saying in 2005 a stone sta…
The stone statue usually used to l…
The stone statue usually used to …
The tombstone for the clothing and…
The tombstone for the clothing an…
Carving on the side of one of the …
Carving on the side of one of the…
the BBQ lamb dish at dinner
the BBQ lamb dish at dinner
The shrimp made with sugar, flour …
The shrimp made with sugar, flour…
Beijing
photo by: Deats