Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter in China: Exploring Beijing - Temple of Heaven


 Temple of Heaven was the last major attraction we visited while we were in Beijing. From our hotel in Wangfujing, it is an easy 15 minute subway ride away. The closest stop is Tiantandongmen. We arrived around shortly after breakfast around 10 am and as usual, there was already a crowd at the entrance but the line for tickets wasn't too long.

The Entrance

Surprisingly, we noticed a couple of tour groups already finishing their tour and leaving the place. The tour probably just brought them to the main temple quickly, took some pictures and got the hell out of there. Another reason why we don't do organized tours.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

Imperial Vault of Heaven

View from the Circular Mound Altar
Temple of Heaven is temple used by Chinese emperors of the past to offer sacrifices and to pray for good harvest. Similar to the Forbidden Palace, this place is HUGE and consists of many buildings, halls, temples and altars each with it's own unique history and function. It took us close to 4 hours to finish walking and exploring the entire area. I forgot to mention this in my previous updates but one thing I liked about China was that there's information provided in English on what you're looking at. Always much appreciated!

Some musical instrument we couldn't figure out!

 I was also impressed with how neat, clean and organized the place was. The gardens were well kept but too bad it was winter so there wasn't much to see. It felt like visiting one of the gardens in England which my bias self wasn't expecting in China.

A 500 year old tree

There is an admission fee (entry to the halls and temples are additional as well) for tourists but I think it was free for locals as the gardens were filled with locals (mostly older folks). There would either hang out and play cards or Chinese chess or join one of those "group" dance activities.

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