Beihai Park, one of the oldest and best-preserved imperial gardens, is located in the center of Beijing, and is very close to the famous Forbidden City. Beihai Park boasts a history dating back more than a millenium and existed throughout the dynasties of Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing. It was first opened to the public as a park in 1925.
Beihai Park covers an area of more than 68 hectares, more than half of which is covered by its lake. It is composed of Beihai Lake and Qionghua Island, and the White Dagoba was built on the top of Qionghua Island, the principle landmark of Beihai Park. In addition, Beihai Park is considered an ancient Chinese art form, with different features, such as artificial hills, bridges, pavilions, halls, temples and lakes.
On top of the Jade Flowery Islet, the White Dagoba was built in 1651 on the former site of the Palace in the Moon where Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. At the suggestion of a famous Tibetan lama, Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty agreed to build such a Tibetan dagoba to show his belief in Buddhism and his desire for the unification among various Chinese ethnic groups.
The White Dagoba was destroyed in an earthquake and reconstructed twice. Now, resting on a huge stone base, it stands 35.9 meters (about 118 feet) high and is capped by two bronze umbrella-like canopies, with 14 bronze bells hanging around them. Inside, the dagoba holds the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk's mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. Since the White Dagoba is the highest point in Beihai Park, it served as a vantage point with a beautiful view of the whole park.
In front of the White Dagoba is the White Dagoba Temple. There are several other buildings and halls you could visit if you have enough time. These include Zhengjue Hall, the Bell and Drum Towers, the Stone Tablets of 'Qiongdao Chunyin' (means the beautiful scenery of the Jade Flowery Islet in spring; inscribed by Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty) etc, all scattered on the slope of the Qionghua Islet.
To the southwest of the Nine-Dragon Screen lies the Five-Dragon Pavilions - five connected pavilions with spires and pointed upswept eaves. From a distance, they appear together like a huge dragon. Built first in 1602 and repaired several times in Qing Dynasty, these five pavilions, half over the water, stand on the north bank of the lake opposite the Jade Flowery Islet.
There are many exquisite carvings and paintings on the girders and pillars of the pavilions which make the Five-Dragon Pavilions a delightful place for the royal members in ancient China to relax and appreciate the natural beauty.
You can stand in the Five-Dragon Pavilions to see the Jade Flowery Islet with the gleaming White Dagoba standing in the exuberance of trees, flowers and various other plants. There are also many other worthwhile places to visit around the Five-Dragon Pavilions including the Heavenly King Hall, Chengguan Hall and the Temple of Little Western Skies, a famous Buddhist architecture.
Quiet Heart (Jingxin) Studio
After visiting the Eastern Shore Area, stepping westward, you will be at the Northern Shore Area. Lying to the east of this area, the Quiet Heart Studio is the most famous independent garden within Beihai Park.
It was initially built in Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and enlarged in Qing Dynasty. Inside the studio, there are many magnificent palaces, halls, pavilions, towers, corridors and artificial hills, numerous odd-shaped porous rocks and stones, all artistically arranged. During Qing Dynasty, some of the royal members used to rest or study here.
After the foundation of People's Republic of China, the government has paid great attention to restoring the old buildings, arranging the lakes and paving the roads. Beihai Park provides visitors with a unique insight into Chinese culture and legend close to the heart of Beijing.
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Beijing Beihai Park Tours
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