1. Even though the Temple of Heaven was not built until the 15th Century, the site has been used for religious rituals since the Zhou Dynasty(1122BC-256BC).
2. As well as building separate Temples of Heaven and Earth, Emperor Jiajing also commissioned the Temple of the Sun ( Ritan Park ) in the east of the city, and the Temple of Moon(Yuetan Park ) in the west. The emperor usedx to worship the God of the Sun at Ritan at the spring equinox and the God of the Moon at Yuetan on the autumn equinox.
3. The Qinian hall ws built without using a single nail and has 50.000 bulue glazed tiles. The pillars in the Dragon Fountain were refurbished in 1740 using wood from US state , Oregon , after a lighting strike had damaged the building.
4. Like many a stroppy film star since thenm no one was allowed to look directly at the Emperors. During the annual procession from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven to perform the winter solstice rites, people were ordered to remain indoors behind shuttered widows. No commoner had entered the park until October 1912, when the gates were thrown open to celebrate the Republic or China ‘s first National Day thirukadaiyur.
5. Between its completion in 1424 and the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. 22emperors made 654 sacrifices to heaven in the Temple of Heaven .
ARGUABLY ONE OF BEIJING’S finest parks, the 267 hectare Temple of Heaven Park, is located 2km to the south of Tian’anmen Square . Athe time it was built, the Temple of Heaven was called the Temple of Heaven and Earth and was used to offer sacrifices to Heaven on the winter solstice and to Earth on the summer solstice.
The layout of the park reflects the dual nature of its original role and the belief that it was the meeting place of Heaven and Earth. The ancient Chinese believed that ‘heaven is round and the earth is square’. That is the reason why the northern edge of the park is semi -circular and the southern end is square . These same principles were also applied to the buildings within the park: Round temple halls sit atop square bases, as heaven is higher than the earth below.
The Temple is divided into inner and outer parts. The temple’s main buildings–The Alatr of Heaven (Yuan qiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaver (Huang qiongyu) and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest(Qinian dian)–all lie along the north-south middle axis line of the inner part.
The Altar of Heaven comprises of three layere white marble terraces representing (top to bottom) heaven, earth and man, Built in 1530. it was here during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) that emperors would offier animal sacrifices to heaven, each year on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month and on the winter solstice. To pray for good harvests.
In 1530, Emperor Jiaqing thought it better to worship heaven and earth separately, for fear of angering the gods. The couple ppromptly split and went their separate ways. Earth getting its own place on the north side of town at Ditan Park . As well as building separate Temples of Heaven and Earth, Earth, Emperor Jiajing also commissioned the Temple of the Sun (Ritan Park ) in the east of the city, and the Temple of the Moon (Yuetan Park ) in the west. The emperor used to worship the God of the Sun at Pirtan at the spring equinox and the God of the Moon at Yuetan of the autumn equinox. The Temple of Heaven was always the largest and most importanti of the four temples.
Just north of the round altar is one of the parks architectural marvels, the Echo Wall ( Huiyinbi). The 65-mette diameter curved wall is meant to enable a whisper to travel clearly from on end to the other, though it is hared to prove as it is usually blocked by hoards of tourists. Tongues from every corner of the earth, all asking the same question’ Can you hear me?’
Bouncing back to the Echo Wall,just outside the gate of the Imperial Vault of Heaven are the Three Echo Stones. If you speak facing the vault, while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; standing on the second you will hear two and on the third stone, you will hear three. It works better with clapping.
Standing at the centre of the area enclosed by echo wall is the Imperial Vault of Heaven, an octagonal tower whose golden top and blue foof reflect the architecture of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. This brick and timber structure was also built in 1530 and used to store the ‘Memorial Tablets of the Gods’ stone tablets which were used in the winter solstice seremony.
Connecting the tower with the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is the vermilion Steps Bridge , a sacered way tilted upwards at the northern end because it was thought it literally acted as a highway to heaven.
The Chinese believed that oddnumbers were auspicious, of which nine was best as it was the highest single-digit odd number. The entire altar has been built using the geometry of the number nine; there are nine rings of nine blocks of stone on the terraces. Flights of nine steps and nine balustrades. If you stand at the point in the middle of the terrace-every word you speak will amplified nine times before it goes directly up to heaven. This, of course, was the spot that was reserved for the Emperor’s thone during ceremonies as it was thought to be at the exact middle of the middle kingdom, making it the centre of earth and a direct portal to heaven.
The palace of abstinence (Chai Gong) stands to the west of the north-south axis that runs between the Altar of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. On the eve of the winter solstice the Emperor used to spend a celibate night here fasting and forgoing the pleasures of the flesh. The following moring he would emerge cleansed. Dressed in his ceremonial robes, ready to offer animal. Grain and silk sacrifices at first light.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is one of Beijing ‘s most popular postcards, as it is this beautiful round building that most people associate with the Temple of Heaven . The hall is an architectural marvel, built entirely out of wood in 1420. The 38 metre tall, 30 metre diameter structure has three blue- tiled roofs and stands atop three marble tiers.
Inside the Hall are 28 huge posts; The four along the inner circle represent the four seasons; the 12 along the middle circle represent the 12 months; and the 12 along the outer circle represent the 12 months; and the 12 along the outer circle represent 12 Shichen , the two-hour long periods in which each day was divided into
The interior is stunning, emblazoned with rich colours and a huge dragon painted on the ceiling. The reason the building looks so new, is because it is really just over a hundred years old. In 1889 a bolt of lightning struck the top of the temple, sparking a fire that engulfed the whole building. The building was rebuilt exactly to the original Ming Dynasty plans. The reason attributed to causing this disaster is quite laughable. It was decreed that the lightning struck a sacrilegious caterpillar that had just reached the golden ball at the top of the tower. Thhirty two court officials were put to death for allowing such a thing to happen.
Today the temple of Heaven Park is alive with people playing cards, waltzing to music blaring from small stereos, playing musical instruments, practicing their Beijing Opera or just sitting smoking a pipe. The park is a great place to see how retired members of the local population spend their time.
THE LAMA TEMPLE
1. The marble based incense burner that sits outside the Devarajia Hall is officially considered one of ” the three rarest things in Beijing “; in part because it bears an inscription by Emperor Qianlong on the origins of Lamaism.
2. The four selestial guardians which gave the Hall of the Heavenly Kings its name hold a snake, a sword, an an cient Chinese instrument called a Pipa, and an umbrella and a silver mouse.
3. At the foot of Arhat Hill is a wooden basin in which a three-day old Emperor Qianlng is said to have had his first bath; his golden rubber duck now sadly lost.
4. The wooden statue of Maitreya Buddha inside the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses is carved from a Tibetan sandalwood tree. This is the world s largest carving from a single piece of wood and was a gift to Emper or Qianlong from the seventh Dalai Lama.
5. This temple is one of China a largest and best-preserved lamaseries serving the Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism and Beiijng s livliest functioning temple.
THE LAMASERY WAS BUILT IN 1694. In 1723, when it was time for Yonghe to move onto the throne and into the Forbidden City , the building was reclassified from a dwelling to a lamasery, becoming the national centre of Lama a dministration.
It’s history as a residence has left the Lam Temple with a layout very different from other temples. The main gate faces south and its five main halls are along the 480-meter long north-south axis.
Entering the palace from the north leads onto a wide straight road reserved for the exclusive use of the Qing emperors and their wives. This imperial artery then passes through the three-arched Gat of Peace Dclaration(Zhaotaimen), which has a grand glaze-tile arch rchly decorated with dragons and flowers.
Zhaotaimen is flanked by the temple’s very own bell and drum towers to the east and west, and directly in front stands stele pavilion. Inside this are inscribed monoliths bearing Emperor Qianlong’s thoughts on the origins of Lamaism in Chinese, Tibetan, Manchu and Mongolian – a nearby plaque offering an English translation.
Behind the pavilion is the Devaraja Hall that used to be the entrance to Yongzheng’s imperial palace, but is better known as Maiterya’s imperial palace, but is better known as Maitreya’s imperial palace, but is better known as Mitreya’s shrine or the Hall of Heavenly Kings after the four fearsome characters that guard it.
The nest building is the Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian),which was formerly Emperor Yongzheng’s biving quarters and now houses a statue of Bhaisajya-guru and a heap of fruit which devotees leave as offerings. When the Qing Dynasty ruler died in 1735, his bady lay in state in this hall.
Behind this hall is the golden-roofed Hall of the Wheel of the Law( Falundian), the bronze statue inside is of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Yellow Hat Sect of Buddhism. This is where the 70 lamas who still live in the complex worship.
The last Hall along the axis is the three story high Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses(Wanfuge), it contains tens of thousands Buddhas, as well as an enormous wooden statue of Maitreya Buddha