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15/07/2013

Things to do in Chengde I

When visiting Chengde in summer for your summer China vacation deals, you can consider the following.

1. Putuo Zongcheng Temple

The Putuo Zongcheng Temple complex was built between 1767 and 1771, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796). It is located to the north of the Mountain Resort. Along with the equally famed Puning Temple, it is one of the Eight Outer Temples of Chengde. The temple was modeled after the Potala Palace of Tibet, the old sanctuary of the Dalai Lama built a century earlier. Hence the Putuo Zongcheng has been nicknamed the "Little Potala Palace". Since it was modeled after the Potala palace, the temple represents a fusion of Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. The temple complex covers a surface area of some 220,000 square meters, making it one of the largest in China.

The Putuo Zongcheng Temple was originally dedicated to Qianlong in order to commemorate his birthday, as well as provide Hebei with a temple of equal size and splendor as the Tibetan Potala Palace. It is a must-see-thing when in Chengde.

Open: 8am-5.30pm. Admission: RMB40.

2. Guandi Temple

This small Taoist temple is located just to the west on the other side of the road from the main entrance gate into the Mountain Resort Main Palace. It was first built in 1732 during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng and is dedicated to Guan Yu. It's a delightful little temple and well worth a visit if you have the time.

Admission: 20 RMB (unit for China money).

3. Puning Temple - Mayahana Hall

The Puning Buddhist Temple was built in 1755, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796 AD) to show the Qing's respect to the ethnic minorities. It is located to the north-east of the Chengde Mountain Resort, and alongside the equally famed Putuo Zongcheng Temple, is one of the "Eight Outer Temples" of Chengde. Much how the Putuo Zongcheng Temple was modeled after the Tibetan Potala Palace, the Puning Temple was modeled after the Samye Monastery, the sacred Lamaist site in Tibet. The front temple was constructed in the Chinese style, although the temple complex follows both Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. The Puning Temple also houses the world's tallest wooden sculpture of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (22.28 meters high and weighing 110 tons), hence the Puning Temple is often nicknamed the "Big Buddha Temple".

Open: 8am-5.30pm. Admission: RMB50

4. Yongyou Temple

This temple lies on the eastern side of the Mountain Resort with the resort walls. It was built in 1751 and means "Temple of Eternal Happiness and Blessing". The temple is dominated by a 9-storey, 67 metre-high octangonal pagoda which is modelled on the Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou (best destination for best tours of China) and Baoen Temple in Nanjing. The Xiexin Hall on the temples western side was where the emperor used to rest and change his clothes when worshipping his ancestors.

5. Mountain Resort Palace

The project of building the Chengde Mountain Resort started in 1703 and finished in 1790. The whole mountain resort covers an area of 5,640,000 square meters and is the largest royal garden in China. The wall of the mountain resort is over 10,000 meters in length. In summers, emperors of Qing Dynasty came to the mountain resort to relax themselves and escape from the high temperature in Beijing.

The whole Resort can be divided into four areas: these are the palace area, lakes area, plains area and mountain area. The Palace Area lies in the south part of the Mountain Resort and is a concentration of palaces where the Qing emperors handled the political affairs and where the royal families lived. It covers an area of 100,000 sq meters (25 acres), consisting of four main complexes: the Main Palace, the Pine-Crane Hall, the East Palace and the Pine Soughing Valley. The lakes area, which includes 8 lakes, covers an area of 496,000 square meters. The plains area covers an area of 607,000 square meters. The emperors held horse races and hunted in the area. The largest area of the four is the mountain area. It covers an area of 4,435,000 square meters. Hundreds of palaces and temples were built on the hills in this area.

Open: 7am-5pm. Admission: RMB90.

For more via China travel guide.

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