Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Imperial Gardens of Beijing

Imperial gardens are common places of interests when visiting Beijing. These imperial gardens are mostly within the grounds or near the palaces of the kingdom of imperial China period During my visit to the city last 2012, I've visited at least 4 of these imperial gardens in which the most beautiful for me was Summer Palace. But unfortunately due to lack of time I wasn't able to explore Summer Palace fully because it was such a huge sight to see and explore. Unfortunately, this visit to Summer Palace has also caused me to missed my flight back that day. Well, charge to experience, I will definitely come back to China someday and the first place to revisit on my list is Summer Palace!

Beihai Park during winter.

Beihai Park
Beihai Park is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China located in the center of Beijing. Beihai Park covers an area of about 0.71 sq km, more than half of which is taken up by the lake. White Dagoba is found at the top of Jade Flowery Islet and the landmark of Beihai Park which is easily access from the parks systemized walkways and pathways.

The lake was a scenery itself and it was a perfect timing for us as we witness "Beijing Sunset" about to happen at that time.  My stroll with my travel mates was afternoon time.

See the White Dagoba?
Winter Sonata in China!

I will never forget my "Winter Sonata" experience in Beihai Park. It was their I saw snow for the first time though it was already in the ground and it wasn't falling from the winter sky. Beijing sunset was also unforgettable! It was romantic and it added a romantic touch to the chilly surrounding of Beihai Park. No flowering plants or trees needed here, just the sunset make up for it. I wonder what Beihai Park will look like during Summer or Spring. I bet, it is lovely as well!

How to reach Beihai Park: Via Subway, take Subway Line 6 and get off at Beihai Bei Station. Go out from Exit B and walk 5 minutes east to get to the north gate of the park.

Stunning Beijing Sunset!
The lake scenery at Beihai Park.
Beihai Park is an imperial garden in Beijing.

Imperial Garden of Forbidden City
This garden is located at the north exit grounds of Forbidden City. But before you reach this garden, you have to explore first the grounds of Forbidden City - the main palace of imperial China that lasted for thousands of years.

The Imperial Garden is located outside of the Gate of Terrestrial Tranquility. Constructed during the Ming dynasty in 1417, it is rectangular in shape and covers approximately 12,000 square meters. This was a private retreat for the imperial family and is the most typical of the Chinese imperial garden design. There are some twenty structures, each of a different style, and the ways in which they harmonise with the trees, rockeries, flower beds and sculptural objects such as the bronze incense burners both delight and astonish visitors. It is a worthy tribute to the art of the designers that so much can be achieved in so small a space. (Source)

The imperial garden of Forbidden City.

Oak or cypress tree?

Spring is coming in the imperial garden of Forbidden City.

The garden has many pavillions and halls to admire Chinese artistry but it was mostly dried becuase winter is just starting wear off. But some flowering plants are starting bloom already. I bet this garden is much more beautiful during Spring. It is said that in this garden that the emperor chooses his concubines. An exit here will lead you to Jingshan Park.

How to reach Forbidden City: Via Subway, take subway line 1, get off at Tiananmen East Station (Exit A) or Tiananmen West Station (Exit B), find the Tiananmen Tower, and then walk north to the Meridian Gate. Option 2 - Take subway line 2, get off at Qianmen Station (Exit A), walk north through the Tiananmen Square, pass the Tiananmen Tower, and then find the Meridian Gate further north.

Jingshan Park
It is also an imperial garden situated on Jingshan Hill where trekking to the hill’s central point, visitors are rewarded with a full and clear view of the Forbidden city. Jingshan Hill has five summits and on each summit there is a pavilion which is perfect for relaxation, picture-taking and admiring the views surrounding the park. The hills central point is the highest point in Beijing. Looking from the peak, visitors is able to get a view of Forbidden City.

Forbidden City from Jingshan Park's highest hill.
Appreciate Chinese artistry at one of the pavillions of Jingshan Park.

Together with my travel mates, we trek the highest hill of the five hills found inside the park to see a rewarding panoramic view of Forbidden City. Even on a cloudy weather coupled with mist and haze, I was still able to clearly to see how huge is Forbidden Palace and every detail of the buildings inside it. This is the best admirable view at Jingshan Park! While at the back of the viewing area, visitors will also appreciate the view of the rest of the park grounds and on the left one will see the Beihai Park and its prominent landmark, the White Dagoba.

How to reach Jingshan Park: Via Subway, take Subway Line 8 to Shichahai Station. Get out from Exit C and then walk south for about 1,000 yards (914m) to the north gate of the park. From Shichahai Subway Station, visitors can also take bus 5, 60, 82, 107, 124, or Sightseeing Bus 3 to the park.

Summer Palace
Summer Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in Haidian District which is quite far from central Beijing. It is famous for its artistically designed pavilions, towers and bridges that all of which are ideal for sightseeing. But the most imposing scenery of Summer Palace is Kumning Lake with the Tower of Buddhist Incense in the background. It is here where I also saw winter scenery of frozen rivers filled with cracked ice sheets at riverside market attraction of Suzhou Market Street. Although filled lots of tress, flowering plants were not in bloom yet in Summer Palace.  So, I imagine how much beautiful it is when it is in spring or summer time where all the flowers are in full bloom and plants are fully green and grown. This imperial park must have been more stunning at those seasons! 

Suzhou Market Street at Summer Palace.

Welcome to Summer Palace!

Summer Palace - the most beautiful imperial garden in Beijing.
 I haven't seen the rest of attractions in Summer Palace because of lack of time. And it is a huge place as well. It is said that Summer Palace was a rest house of members of the imperial family. Well, its quite a huge place just for a rest house of a king! But having seen half of its beautiful attractions, for me this is the most beautiful imperial gardens of Beijing that I have visited. I just wished next time, I have more time to see it.

How to reach Summer Palace: Via Subway, take Subway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen, take exit D and walk to the North Palace Gate; or get off at Xiyuan to reach the East Palace Gate from exit C2. Option 2, take Subway Line 16: get off at Xiyuan and leave from exit C2. Walk west to the East Palace Gate.

Happy and satisfied in discovering the imperial gardens of Beijing at the beautiful Beihai Park.
The imperial gardens are one of the best places to visit in Beijing which are perfect for afternoon strolls while having a cool vibe of Winter season. These imperial gardens have been part of the ancient Chinese dynasty periods as they have been the retreat places of Chinese monarchs during the imperial period of China. I bet these parks are more lovelier in Spring or Summer when the trees are in full growth and flowers are in full bloom and in Autumn when all the leaves are turning yellow and red. But whatever the season is, these parks are lovely all the time.   

The Imperial Gardens of Beijing is the last part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my birthday trip adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series: 

+Beijing - A Beguiling City
+Winter Sonata in China
+Roaming through Beijing
+One Spring Day in Beijing
+Forbidden City: Forbidden No More
+A Dragon Hike to the Great Wall of China
+Beijing's Architectural Wonders
+Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine
+Wangfujing's Lively Street Life
+The Imperial Gardens of Beijing

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