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Chengde -- Mountain Resort
Mountain Resort

The city if Chengde in Hebei Province is a cool and scenic summer resort 250 kilometers northeast of Beijing. More than two hundred years ago Emperor Kang Xi (1662-1723) discovered this rare scenic spot during a hunting trip. It took eighty-seven years to complete the construction of a temporary palace in what used to be called Rehe (Jehol), also known by the quaint name "Mountain Hamlet for Escaping the Heat." The palace is enclosed by a wall over ten kilometers long, which rises and falls with the mountain ridges. It is the largest and best-preserved imperial palace outside of the capital.

Qing emperors Kang Xi, Qian Long, and Jia Qing often spent several months a year here to escape the summer heat in the capital city of Beijing and the palace zone in the southern part of the resort was therefore designed to resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing. It consists of two parts: a court in front, where the emperor received high officials, nobles of various minority nationalities, and foreign envoys; and bed chambers in the rear, which were the imperial family's living quarters.

Many of the scenic spots around the resort's lake area were copied from famous landscaped gardens I south China. For instance, the main building on Green Lotus Island, "Tower of Mist and Rain," (Yanyulou) is a copy of a tower in Nanhu Lake at Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province. The resort's plain area possesses characteristics of the scenery of the Mongolian grasslands. Forested mountains and valleys are dotted with various building.

The Eight Outer Temples

As they were under eight different administrations, they were usually referred to as the "eight Outer Temples." Eleven splendid temples were built more than two hundred years ago east and north of the resort. Only seven temples remain intact today, reflecting the traditional art and culture of the Han, Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan nationalities.

The Temple of the Potarak Doctrine (Putuozongshengmiao), occupying an area of 220,000 square meters, is by far the largest of all temples in the area. With rows of buildings rising at different levels from the south upwards, the temple is a copy of the Dalai Lama's Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It was built to mark the sixtieth birthday of Emperor Qian Long and was used by him to receive nobles of the various minority nationalities in China. The Torguts, a Mongol tribe who had migrated from Xinjiang to the banks of the Volga and back, returned to their home in 1771. Together with leaders of various other nationalities, the Torguts arrived at Chengde for an audience with Emperor Qian Long when the temple was completed. This demonstrated the prosperity of a united nation at that Time.


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