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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Beijing - the Drum and Bell Towers

The Bell Tower, as seen from the Drum Tower.

I had been past the Drum and Bell Towers on previous visits to Beijing, but had never been in either of them. My daughter lives about 10 minutes away from these towers and knew there was a display of drum playing during the day, so we timed it to see one of the displays.

We had about 30 minutes before the drum display so we decided to go up the Bell Tower first. This building is 33 metres high, built in 1747. On entering the building we found we were facing a steep, uneven stone staircase going straight up to the Bell Pavilion room. It was worth the climb though, to see the amazing bell.

This amazing bronze bell has hung here for over 500 years. It was originally struck throughout the night to measure the hours.

This explains the use of the bell to mark out the
 hours of night time

This photo shows the very large log used to strike the bell.

The legend of the bell casting.

A couple of views from the Bell Tower, interesting to see the sky scrapers in the distance.

Looking across the square from the Bell Tower towards the Drum Tower.

We made our way out of the Bell Tower and across the square to the Drum Tower, again access to the drum room in the tower was up a very steep, uneven staircase! This building is built of wood unlike the Bell Tower and is 47 metres high, this building replaced an earlier one and was built in 1420.

One of the views from the Drum Tower.

Some interesting exhibits in the Drum Tower, the photo is not good, but I loved the Dragon Incense Holder in the photo above :)

One of the water clocks, water was poured into the top container, which made its way down to the containers below, as a way of marking a unit of time.

Originally there were 24 drums in the Tower, only one now remains, as you can see it is in a very fragile state.

The drum room, there are now only seven drums, set at the back of the room 

My daughter peeping out from behind one of the pillars!

We had an amazing view of the people playing the drums, two to the left....

two to the right.....

....and the lady beating the centre drum. It was amazing to hear these drums being beaten, the drummers were awesome, and for some reason I found the display very emotional. It was well worth being there at the right time :)

Finally another photo taken from the Drum Tower, in the centre distance there is a Pagoda on top of a hill. The pagoda is in Jingshan Park, which is directly to the north of The Forbidden City, guess where we went next? More in the next blog :)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Beijing revisited - The Lama Temple

I first visited The Lama Temple in 2014, it is a beautiful, spiritual temple, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in China. The photo above is part of the ceiling in The Hall of Boundless Happinesses. 

I have combined some of the photos from my visit in 2014 with some taken this year.

The Temple is full of beautiful, highly decorated wooden buildings, housing numerous wonderful Buddhas. Surprisingly this time I was able to get some photos of these Buddhas, whilst being respectful to people worshipping in the Temple.

The entrance to this lovely place.

Just one of the gorgeous buildings in the complex.

A female Foo Dog (Guardian Lion) with her paw firmly on her cub.

The same Foo dog from the back, just wonderful :)

The incense holders outside one of the halls, the smell of incense fills the site :)

This amazing statue of the Buddha Maitreya is housed in the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses. When I visited last time the building was undergoing renovation work, and as you entered you walked round a screen and found yourself staring in amazement at this wonderful wooden statue. This time the screen had gone and the Buddha in all its glory was right in front of us.

Photography was not allowed on my previous visit but this time virtually everyone was taking photos.

A small bowl sitting next to the Buddhas foot, which gives some idea of the size of this amazing statue. 

As explained in my previous blog (August 2014) the statue is carved out of one piece of White Sandalwood, which was gifted by the seventh Dalai Lama to Emperor Qianlong in the 1750's. The statue is 18 metres high, with another 8 metres of wood under ground. Needless to say it is a truly wonderful sight, I am so pleased that I got to see it once, let alone twice!

This is one of the decorated walls in the same building as the Buddha above, glorious in its own right but I suspect it is sometimes overlooked, as the Buddha statue takes 'centre stage'.

Buddhas, above and below, every building on this site houses wonderful pieces of art, with many people burning incense and praying at their chosen buddha.

I believe the Buddhas above and below are two of the three bronze Buddhas which the Temple is famous for, they are just awe inspiring.

The clothing on the Buddhas are made from sumptuous silk :)

A smaller Buddha in a glass case, complimented by the lovely peonies.

A prayer wheel :)

My previous blog about this beautiful place can be seen here:
http://poppysplace-poppy.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-lama-temple.html, published in August 2014 :)

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Beijing - The Temple of Earth

The Temple of Earth is situated North of The Forbidden City, and is one of the four main Temples of importance to the Emperors.  The Temple of Earth was originally used for sacrifices, and is built in a square plot, which to the Chinese represents Earth. 

We arrived at the park at about tea time, paid our entry fee, and decided to look round The Earth God Worship House before going to see the 'Earth Mound'. 

The Earth God Worship House holds many interesting items, I loved the animals above

and the dragon handles on what I assume are bells.

Looking up the once glorious ceiling is now looking very weathered, but beautiful none the less :)

A beautiful rattle drum, the dragon decoration symbolizes the Emperor's power.

The Rattle Drum is suspended from a central post, at the base of this are four of these amazing animals, probably Foo dogs (Guardian Lions)

A beautiful pot, yellow and gold are the Emperor's colours, they are my favourite colours too.

I was especially pleased to see these items, they are usually seen on the roofs of Imperial buildings, to see them close up was a real treat.

A wonderful dragon on a golden roof tile,

These are two of the animal ridge tiles seen on the corners of important buildings, with the lead man on his mount. I was thrilled to see these close up, as I find them fascinating :)

Phoenix carvings.

I am not sure of the importance of these duck like animals, but I liked them :)

Dragons on these, I think they were instruments of some sort, they are suspended on ropes, I imagine they were struck with a gong or something similar, but I am not sure.

A mobile throne for the Emperor, he would have have been carried almost everywhere in a throne like this. Note the Emperor's golden covered cushion :)

When we left the building we walked across to the entrance to the main area of the Temple, only to find that that area was just about to close! So we didn't get to see the square Altar :( It looks like I shall just have to go and visit my daughter again and make sure I get to see the central part of the Temple.

However the beautiful park that houses the Temple was open much later so we had a lovely cool walk, and we sat and had a lovely rest and watched the world go by :)

I love these round doorways, when I see them I wonder if Tolkein got his idea of Hobbit Houses having round front doors from these gateways in China?

There were beds of glorious peonies in the park, this was just one of them, a perfect bloom.

Another gorgeous marble bridge.

We were lucky enough to see some blossom still on the trees.

So pretty :)

Finally a view across part of the Temple grounds,  this was the Apothecary Garden.

The Temple of Earth was certainly worth a visit, the park is a lovely peaceful place, not at all crowded, with beautiful flowers and trees. I would like to explore more one day :)