Are you planning to visit Beijing? It is hard to visit this fantastic city and leave without checking out the temple of Heaven. From the name, it is easy to think of the place as a boring ancient religious place. Well, the Temple of Heaven is a vast park as well. It is located about six kilometers southeastern of the city of Beijing. This place was built in 1420 A.D and boasts as China’s largest complex consisting of old sacrificial buildings that span for about four times the size of the forbidden city. It is fundamental to plan your trip well enough for you to enjoy all the fun things associated with this attraction.
Timing Is Paramount
The gates of this temple open up at 8.00 a.m, and you should probably get up early enough to enjoy your day to the fullest. While the gates close at 17.00, the park itself is open from 06.00 all the way to 22.00. If you get to the place early enough, you enjoy the sight of the local people engaging in light physical activities such as singing, dancing, and practicing kung fu among others. At around 10.00 the tourists start swarming in, and one cannot enjoy the activities done by the locals anymore.
The trip through the temple is quite long, and you should get a guide to take you through the whole expedition. The temple is made up of three historical buildings that are hard to miss. These structures are known as the Hall of Prayer designated for Harvests, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar. The hall is where the leaders sacrificed livestock and burned incense when praying for favorable weather and good harvests.
The mentioned buildings are interconnected by the Red Stairway Bridge which is a raised walk of spanning for about 350 meters. The trail has ancient cypress trees on its sides forming a fantastic pathway between the buildings. The vault is a circular building based on a stone marble foundation. It is South of the Hall for Good Harvests and has a characteristic echo wall that tourists enjoy whispering things and receiving the echo clearly. The last building, which is the altar, was used to worship during the winter.
The Danbi bridge, otherwise referred to as the Vermilion Steps Bridge connects the northern and southern part of the temple. The south side is a bit lower than the northern one, and this is because the emperors had a belief that this bridge could lead them to heaven, thence the name, Sacred way. The palace of abstinence is situated south of the Hall of Prayer For Good Harvests, and this is where the emperors fasted before the commencement of the ceremonies. It is made up of some other distinctive building such as the Beamless Hall and the Belfry among others.
The Divine Music Administration is one of the most striking buildings in the temple. This was the place where most of the ceremonial music instruments were kept. All the rituals and music to be presented during the ceremonies were rehearsed here.
It has been stated that the Temple contains a huge park filled with ancient cypress trees. These old trees are worth checking out as some of them are over 600 years old. It is always nice walking around the park and enjoying some of the unique forms that these trees have taken over their years of existence. There are more than 60,000 varieties of trees in this park. One notable one is a 500-year-old cypress called the Nine Dragons due to its branches that wind up like nine dragons wound onto each other.
Get Your Entrance Right
The temple has numerous entrances, and you should use the right one if you want to enjoy your trip. Initially, this temple had one main gate which is located to the West. However, after the park was made public in 1949 other entrances were opened up in the other sides. It is highly recommended that you use the East and South gates.
The East gate hosts the locals and offers the best spot for those who want to see them engaging in their morning activities. If you go through this door, you will head to the long corridor, over to the hall of Good harvest, then to the Imperial Vault and finally to the circular altar before exiting through the Southern gate. If you get in through the Southern gate, your walking plan is just the reverse of the mentioned one with your exit being the Eastern gate.
A regular tour will take close to three hours depending on what you want to do in the temple. You should come prepared for hot weather especially if you are visiting during the summer. The trees in the temple are a bit far from the typical axis trip, and you should come with comfortable shoes, an umbrella, and some water so that you do not get uncomfortable midway through the trip. The park is vast, and you should be prepared for a long walk.
There are different tickets for getting into the park, and you should be aware of what you want before making a purchase. The entrance ticket caters for your visit to the park where you enjoy the view of the locals taking part in their usual activities. The through ticket allows you to go to the park and the other three buildings of the temple. Students and seniors over the age of 70 are eligible for half ticket prices during selected times of the year.
Through Ticket: RMB 30 (December to March), RMB 35 ( April to November), including the entries to Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.
The 13th cultural week which is usually held every year between 28th January and 1st February 2017 was canceled due to safety concerns, but the mentioned dates are perfect for visiting the temple. The week is characterized by ritual music and dance as well as some fantastic ancient concerts.
The Beijing Temple of Heaven is a fantastic place to visit if you want to travel to China. Make sure you head over there the next time you visit and enjoy the incredible Chinese heritage.