Travel Destinations: Chengde, Hebei Province, China

Lian Slayford By Lian Slayford, 29th May 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>China>Hebei & Tianjin

This article explores Chengde as a great place to visit.

Travel Destinations: Chengde, Hebei Province, China

Travel Destinations: Chengde, Hebei Province, China

Chengde, also known in the past as Rehe or Jehol in Europe, is a wonderful place to visit. Full of history, culture, delicious cuisine and the most amazingly friendly people, it is little wonder that people flock to this city year after year.

Located in Hebei Province, Chengde started to experience growth stimulation during the Qing Dynasty when the Manchu Emperors used the city as a summer resort when Beijing became scorching hot. Here, they could relax and practice hunting, a traditional Manchurian pastime.

It was under Emperor Qianlong that Chengde reached its peak; the emperor had the 12 outlying temples built to invite and welcome many of the minority groups from Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang to the city to help established a more settled peace and relationship between them and the government.

There are many things to see and do in Chengde; start with a trip to Bishu Shanzhuang, the summer resort that the Qing dynasty emperors had commissioned. The complex is made up of an exquisite palace complex and beautiful gigantic gardens surrounded by a 10km long wall.

You enter through Lizheng Gate and carry on to the Main Palalace. This is a beautiful building consisting of nine courtyards with five elegant unpainted halls with pine trees growing throughout. Each of the halls has displays of clothing, furniture, porcelain and weaponry to admire.

Once you exit the Main Palace, you will enter the gardens are the hunting grounds which were based on scenic areas from Hangzhou, Suzhou, Jiaxing and the Mongolian grasslands. Recent years have put its own mark here, but the character and feel of the grounds still remains.

You will also other buildings in the complex; the double storey Misty Tower (Yanju Lou) is as beautiful as its name and the Wenjin Pavilion (Wenjin Ge) is just as pretty. It was created in 1773 to house the incredible classic collection of books by the Emperor Qianlong called the Siku Quanshu. Four copies were made, only one of which has survived and is now in Beijing. Carry on to visit Yongyoushi Pagoda where you look down at the ruins of a temple.

After you have thoroughly explored the palace, visit Guandi Temple (Guandi Miao). It is also called the Wumiao and is a Doaist temple dedicated to the god Guan Yu. It was first built in 1732 but has since fallen into despair and recently restored.

You enter the temple past the Green Dragon and the White Tiger in the Hanmen Hall. Carry on into the Chongwen Hall to see some modern frescoes of Confucious. Shengmu Hall is simply beautiful; come here to admire a statue of the Princess of Azure Clouds holding a baby in the arms – she is the patron goddess of Tai Shan (a mountain in Shangdong Province).

The next hall houses a statue of the Guandi, the Daoist god of war. A hall to the right is dedicated to the God of Wealth, the left to the God of Medicine. Last, but certainly not least, the Hall of the Three Clear Ones should not be missed out upon.

The Eight Outer Temples (wai ba miao) is another popular destination. There were once 12 of these, situated on the northern and eastern regions of the palace. They were commissioned by Emperor Qianlong for diplomatic reasons rather than spiritual, as he wanted diplomatic relationships with the minority groups. Only eight temples survive today and are a mixture of Tibetan and Chinese architecture and interior design.

Puning Temple (Puning Si) is the city’s only active temple and was established in anticipation of the Emperor Qianlong’s victory over the Mongolian tribes in far flung Xinjiang Province. As you enter the temple, there are wonderful stele with inscriptions in Manchu, Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan.

Carry on and you will come to the Hall of Heavenly Kings and then the Mahavira Hall. Here, there are three depictions of the Buddha of the three generations. You will find some incredibly steep steps outside of this hall which you can climb. At the top, you will be rewarded with an interesting gate tower you can climb and some beautiful views. On the terrace you will see the Mahayana Hall with stupas and Tibetan style buildings with lovely water features.

The highlight of this beautiful temple is the breathtaking golden statue of Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of Mercy. She stands more than 22m high and is simply captivating. She has 42 arms, each palm holding an eye, and each hand holds an instrument such as lotus flowers, skulls and other Buddhist objects.

Other places to explore in Chende are the Temple of Sumeru, Happiness and Longevity (Xumifushou Zhimiao), a gigantic temple built to honour the sixth Panchen Lama who came here in 1781. There are eight beautiful dragons that guard the roof of the main hall.

You can visit the beautiful and tranquil Pule Temple which was commissioned in 1776 in honour of the minority envoys who visited the city. Other temples nearby include the Anyuan Temple (a replica of the Gurza Temple in Xinjiang), the Puren Temple (the earliest temple in the city) and Shuxiang Temple.

Chengde is one of the most popular destinations in China and one of the most beautiful. It is a wonderful place, full of history and culture and memories to last you a lifetime.

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Chengde, China, Chinese, Hebei, Trave, Travel, Travel Agency, Travel At Ease, Travel Budget, Travel By Train, Travel Nepal, Travel Tip, Travel Tips, Travelling

Meet the author

author avatar Lian Slayford
Lian is a Research Archaeologist, specialising in Religious Archaeology.

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