Chengde, also known as Jehol or "Rehe", is a famous historical
and cultural city. It is located about 250 kilometer northeast of Beijing
and has an area of 4,471 square kilometer and a population of 88.5
million. Surrounded by mountains, Chengde lies on the area between
the Mongolia Plateau and the Huabei Plain. Mineral deposits of
Chengde include coal, iron, copper, molybdenum, manganese,
titanium, fluorite, and Iceland spar. The output of Iceland spar
ranks the highest in China.
Industries are machinery, electronics, meter, food processing, pharmaceuticals, tourism products, metal making, and construction materials. The chief farm products include corn, sorghum, millet, sesame, peanuts, and fruit.
Chengde was discovered by the early Qing emperor Kangxi in the late 17th century, who found the cool summer climate and natural scenery appealing as a summer retreat. Kangxi and his successors built some 72 palaces there by the end of the 18th century, along with replicas of the Potala Palace of the Tibetan Buddhist lamas.
Chengde came to be seen as unlucky after two 19th-century Chinese emperors died there, including the Jiaqing emperor who was struck down by lightning near the palace in 1820. The complex was largely neglected during the 20th century and still bears many traces of that neglect, although ongoing restoration projects were begun in the 1980's.
Today Chengde is a popular tourist center and now a summer retreat for Beijing urbanites. The special locally-made products are silk products, glass ware, and tinned food.
Outside the Mountain Resort of Chengde, there are 12 temples built during the Qing dynasty. Dominated by 8 districts at that time, they were called the Eight Outer Temples. It took 67 years to build these temples. Standing for the different architectural style of various Minorities in China, the Eight Outer Temples is the symbol of the country's unity and minorities' solidification. Till now, there are 7 temples left.
The architectures in the Eight Outer Temples are Tibet style, Han Nationality style, Han and Tibet combination styles. Examples are Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Xumi Fushou Temple, Puning Temple and Pule Temple.
The Mountain Resort of Chengde is the largest imperial garden in modern China. It covers a total area of 564 square kilometer, and is twice as large as the Summer Palace in Beijing. In the Qing dynasty, it took 89 years (1703-1792) to complete. The emperors Kangxi and then Qianlong were in charge of this project.
The Mountain Resort, also a summer resort, is an important location of wonderful scenery and pleasant climate. Grand palaces, delicate temples, peculiar mountains, exquisite pavilions and tranquil waters are full of beautiful things in your eyes. You will have the choices of walking, hiking, climbing, riding and boating inside the garden.
The Palace Area and Scenic Area are the main parts of the Mountain Resort.
Palaces in China conjure up pictures of majesty and splendor. Certainly most palaces are just like that, but I am sure you will have a different view if you come to visit the palace in the Mountain Resort. The architectural style of the palace is very unique, and similar to the resident houses in North China. Black bricks and gray tiles, rock steps and the cute courtyard covered with old pine trees look very old-timey, peaceful and elegant.
The palace area is made up of the Main Palace, Pine-Crane Hall, Pine Soughing Valley and East Palace. In the past, the Qing emperors lived there and dealt with some government affairs. It was the second center of the imperial palace at that time. The Forbidden City in Beijing was the first one. But the emperors liked to hold some celebrations in the mountain resort, because they felt relaxed and comfortable there.
• Lake Zone
Water gives everything infinite vitality and energy, so the scenery of the lake zone sparkles like a diamond in the Mountain Resort. Lying in the southeast of the resort, the lake zone has 9 lakes and 10 islands, such as Half-moon Lake, Mirror Lake, Silver Lake, Inner Lake and others, around which are the main scenic areas. Weeping willows crooning along the banks and green waves poppling on the lake make up a wonderful picture.
• Plain Zone
Going north, you come to the plain zone. Facing the palace wall on the east with the mountains rising to the west, this area is mainly covered with grassland and woods. The plain zone is divided into 3 parts: an arboretum to the east with 28 various Mongolia tents; to the west is a piece of grassland where you can ride horses, and temples and other buildings lie to the north. Scenery on the plain zone is charmingly simple and serene.
• Mountain Zone
There are 4 great valleys from north to south: Pine-cloud Valley, Pear Valley, Pine Valley and Filbert Valley. There you can enjoy the mountain scenery completely, including undulating hills, flourishing woods, steep peaks, gurgling streams and white waterfalls. It is pleasantly cool there, so you can comfortably spend your summer holidays. Each year in the summer, the Qing emperors would come and live there for about 5 to 6 months. They could not only discuss the court affairs with the ministers but also enjoy themselves. Nowadays, once summer starts, most people think of the Mountain Resort of Chengde and would like to go there to spend their vacations.
The Pule Temple is just like a round pavilion from the appearance. And also some people say it is really another Temple of Heaven. Entering the temple, you will find most of the things built with wood blocks called Stramonium. There are 72 woods symbolizing 72 kinds of wisdom of the Buddha.
The world's largest woodcarving Buddha is in this Great Buddha Temple. Different from other Buddhas, it has thousands of hands and eyes, 22.28 m high and 15 m wide. It is made from the materials of pine, cypress, elm, fir and basswood. Inside the temple, there are Bell and Drum Towers, Pavilions, Heaven King Palace and Daxiong Baodian. Built in 1755, the temple shows the Qing dynasty's respect to the Minorities.
Built in 1771, the Putuo Zongcheng Temple; a small Potala Palace, is a most resplendent and sweeping one. It covers an area of 220,000 square m, and is similar to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. This temple was built for celebrating the emperor Qianlong's birthday. Zang-style architectures are displayed thoroughly there. A square architecture named Big Red Platform is the principal part, on which there are 3 halls. The tops of the halls are covered with the copper gold tiles, thus a very precious monument. This temple was used to hold important religion ceremonies and for the emperors to interview the heads of the Minorities and some ministers in the past.
This temple was built for the 6th Panchen Lama (head of Tibet) in 1780. Because on August 13, 1780 was the Emperor Qianlong's 70th birthday. In order to celebrate it, the master spent one year from Tibet to Chengde. Then Qianlong ordered to build a temple for him to rest and sermonize. The name "Xumi Fushou Temple" means blessing and longevity. It's the combination of Han and Tibet architectural styles. Also a big red platform is very noticeable. On the tops of the palaces, there are 8 copper gold dragons, refined and lively. Inside a palace, Sakyamuni is oblate there. Seen from the distance, the temple exudes in impressiveness and magnificence.
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