Friday, September 6, 2013

Temple of Heaven (天壇)

I don't know why I am so fascinated by this place.  Perhaps because it's used to be so restricted that only the Imperial family and his highest ranking officials can walk the grounds of this temple?  As the name suggests, this is the place where the Emperor worships the gods for good harvests in the ancient days.

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Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿)
We had to change our plans as the Summer Palace is just too far (1 hour by subway one-way).  Beijing, I will be back! SOON!

I was reminded of the story of "the partying monks who were a donkey and a cow in their previous lives" when I entered the barriers of the temple park.  The park is populated by locals who were practicing their calligraphy, playing cards, Chinese chess, knitting, etc.  It's almost like a market.

I didn't realize what he was writing until I posted this picture... LOL
It's occupied by people of different hobbies and they organized themselves into the different "wings"
this is the "card playing" wing
this is the "knitting" wing
this is the "Chinese chess" wing

The most important structures are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿), the Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) & the Echo Wall (回音璧), and the Altar to Heaven (圜丘).  The bundled ticket is recommended and students get a discount when the student ID is presented.  The parameters of the temple is huge so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes when visiting this place.

The many uses of an umbrella.  Among which, view block is a primary use here.
Even with the Beijing smog, I still recommend heavy sunblock, a hat,
and an umbrella when you visit the Temple of Heaven.
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The temple is heavily decorated.
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Next to the 祈年殿 is the 皇乾殿
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皇乾殿 is where they worship the reigning Emperor
and the ancestral tablets of the previous Emperors.
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This door is especially built to allow the elderly aristocrats to worship
as everyone has to walk inside the temple ground
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the nine statues on the roof signifies this is a temple of the Emperor grade

The "burning stoves" are for burnt offerings.  Duh!
The iron casts for burnt offering
They are everywhere in the park
The "firewood stove".  For cow offerings.  My mom found it ironic that the people need to offer a "life" to the gods.  At least they are not offering a human...
The "firewood stove". For cow offerings.
It is ironic that people need to offer a "life" to the gods.
At least they are not offering a human...
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This place is freaking huge...
I later found out it's 6 times bigger than the Forbidden City.
seriously!?!?
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love tantrums throwing kids!
so funny!
People were playing loud music, selling goods, etc. You know how all kids love doing things that are forbidden?  Oh well, this is the "Forbidden City" after all!
a list of things that are not "allowed" in the park
we all know what happens when there is a sign that tells you what you can't do...
RMB$20 each.
was tempted to buy this (only RMB20)
but I don't have the time to put it together and I don't have a place to put it...
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Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) 
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There were too many people so the Echo Wall malfunctioned.

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tell me why there are so many people!!!
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a masterpiece
The art to make these beautiful tiles are long lost... :'(
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the Altar to Heaven (圜丘)
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Everyone was fighting to stand on that stone in the middle
It's no regular stone, it's the Heavenly Centre Stone...
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South Gate
Because we came by the subway (East Gate),
we had to walk back to the East Gate... T_T
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We took a different route to go back to the East Gate and it was very nice!
yes... I am still at the Temple of Heaven... just at a corner less travelled...
Pine forest within the temple grounds... so lush!
The temple is very nice and I highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting Beijing!  Just be sure to bring umbrella / hat, sunglasses, sunblock, and wear comfy shoes.

Official website: http://www.tiantanpark.com/cn/
A good English website: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/beijing/heaven/

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