Fragrant Hills Park, also called Xiangshan Park, is situated in the northwest of Beijing city, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away from downtown. With an area of nearly 400 acres (1,600,000 square meters), Fragrant Hills Park is famous for its imperial garden style and abundance of precious cultural and historical relics.
In fact, Fragrant Hills Park used to be a royal garden in Chinese history. During the Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 CE), Emperor Shizong order the temple to be built on Fragrant Hills named Grand Yong’an Temple which was now called Xiangshan Temple. During the rule of Emperor Zhangzong of the Jin Dynasty, the Huijinglou and Jixing Altar were constructed on the hill. In 1795, the government of the Qing Dynasty carried out large-scale construction on the hills over many years.
Rising over 1,800 feet (557 meters) above sea level, the name of Fragrant Hill derives not from the fresh air or aroma in the area, but the hills themselves. A large stone lies on its peak and looks like an incense burner from a distance. Especially during the morning or twilight the stone is shrouded in mist and cloud, making it appear as if the mist and cloud are curling up from the incense burner. So the hill is named Xianglushan Hill, sometimes shortened to Xiangshan Hill (Fragrant Hill).
When mentioning Fragrant Hill, visitors are always impressed by the red leaves of the Common Smoketree. The red leaves of the Common Smoketree are the most charming piece of autumn scenery in Beijing. Thus autumn is the ideal time to visit Xiangshan Hills. The red leaves of the Smoketrees of all over the hill look like the blood. After the frost, the red takes on a more purple hue. These trees were planted during the rule of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Now, the number of Common Smoketrees is nearly 1,000,000!
Inside of the park, you can see the Luminous Temple and Jianxinzhai. The Luminous Temple is a Tibetan-style monastery built in 1780 for receiving Penchen Lama. The most striking building in the temple is Octagonal Glazed Tile Pagoda which is almost 100 feet (30 meters) high. There are 8 bells hanging on its 8 eaves.
Heading north from Luminous Temple, we can see a wall, and inside the wall is Jianxizhai which is the only preserved historical site in Fragrant Hills Park. Jianxinzhai was constructed in 1522 and rebuilt in 1796.
In different seasons, Fragrant Hills Park takes on different appearances. If you plan to visit Beijing, Fragrant Hills Park should definitely be on your list of things to see.
Address: Xiangshan Lu, Haidian District Admission Fee: 10RMB Telephone: 86-10-62591155, 86-10-62591264
How to Get there: Bus No.360, 318, 714, 733, 737, 833 and 904