Fragrant Hill lies on the
eastern end of the Western Mountains, 40 kilometers
west to Beijing proper. The Western Mountians, a
part of the Taihang Mountains, resemble a bow embracing
Beijing on the plain. In the mid-18th century, the
imperial court of the Qing Dynasty spent a great
amount of money on the construction of a grand summer
resort on Fragrant Hill -- the Qingyi Garden. In
1860 English and French allied army and in 1890
the army of the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded
Beijing, looting and setting fire on all the famous
imperial gardens in the capital. The palatial halls,
towers and pavilions in Qingyi Garden were not spared.
After the founding of the People's Repulic in 1949,
some of the scenic spots in the garden have been
restored. Most famous attractions in Xiangshan Park
today are Jianxing (Seeing the Heart) Studio, Shuangqing
(Double Clear-Fountain) Villa and Zhao Monastery
in the park and Biyun (Azure Cloud) Temple and Wuofo
(Sleeping Buddha) Temple near the park.
Fragrant Hill is covered with
ancient trees. In late fall the leaves of smoke
trees turn ruby red. To admire the red leaves
on Fragrant Hill is a favorite item for an outing
of Beijing residents.
The exquisite compound is complete
with hills, springs, tress, rockeries and bamboo.
Two fountains in the western part gave its name
Shuangqing (Double Fountains). The name plaque
is in the handwriting of Emperor Qian Long.
Xianglu [Incense Burner] Peak
The main peak of Fragrant Hill
is 550 meters above sea level. Two giant rocks
on top of it are named Breast Rocks. Standing
on top of the rocks one has a grand view down
bellow: a sea of clouds and trees.
Biyun [Azure Cloud] Temple
Built in the mid-14th century,
the six courtyards are arranged up a slope. The
temple is famous for its 500 Arhat Hall and Diamond
500- Arhat Hall
There are actually 508 statues
of arhats in the hall, each 1.5 meters high, made
of clay but wrapped in gold foil. They show the
high sculpture skills during the Qing Dynasty.
The copper statue of Buddha in
the Wufo (sleeping Buddha) Temple at the foot
of Fragrant Hill is 5.2 meters long and weighs
25 tons. Around the Buddha on its eastern, western
and northern sides stand 12 colored statues. statues.
Legend has it that this is the scene when Sakyamuni
gave his last words to his 12 disciples on his