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Luxury Vacation at Chengde Imperial Summer Villa

Many visitors head to Chengde to spend their summer holiday, attracted by the renowed Imperial Summer Villa. It is China’s largest imperial garden, in Qing Dynasty it was the summer resort emperor and empress.

The Imperial Summer Villa is located in the city of Chengde in northeastern Hebei Province. Its construction started from the 42nd year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign (1702), and completed in the 57th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1792). It is China’s largest imperial garden, covering an area of 5.6 million sq. meters, and with a wall of 10km. surrounding the garden. The construction is mammoth, brilliant and magnificent.

The Summer Villa can be divided into two parts: the palace area and garden area. The former was located in the southeast part of the Mountain Resort where the main buildings include Zhenggong (Front Palace), Songhezhai (Pine and Crane Hall), Wanhesongfeng (Whispering Pine Valley), and Donggong (Eastern Palace). The Hall of Danbo Jingcheng (Frugality and Placidity) is the main hall of the Front Palace. It is also known as Nanmu Hall because it was built of the fine-grained fragrant hardwood called nanny. The Hall of Wanhesongfeng standing on a hillock by the lakeside and encircled by green pine groves, is a grand scenic spot.

The garden area consists of the lake, plains and mountains. The lake is filled with crystal-clear rippling waters. Three pavilions were built upon a long bridge that spans the lake. To the north of the pavilions, lies an island by the name of “Moon Color and River Sound”. The buildings on the island include Jingji Shanfang (Mountain Haven For Quietness), Yingxin Tang (Hall of Jade-Like Heart), Lengxiang Ting (Pavilion with cold Fragrance) etc. Whenever a moon night falls, the reflections of moonlight upon the lake waters are so bright and clear, and tranquility reigns all over the Resort areas. Only audible is the murmuring of flowing waters. The moon night at the Resort is so quiet, peaceful and picturesque!

The plains lie to the north of the lake area. The Garden of Ten Thousand Trees is located in its northeast. Upon its luxuriantly green grassland, David deer roam about in twos and threes, and pheasants and hare make their frequent appearances. The Garden dotted with curt-style palaces presents a view of northland prairie. Shimadai (Ground for Practising Horse-Ride) in the southwest, is a vast stretch of flat land covered with green grass, where one can go for a gallop. Stupa at the Yongyou Temple (Temple of Eternal Blessing), the largest building in the plain area, was built in the style of the Pagoda at Baoen Temple (Temple of Paying Debt of Gratitude) in Nanjing City, and the Liuhe Pagoda (Six-Harmony Pagoda) in Hangzhou City. It’s a 9 storied and 8 angled stepper, totaling over 10 m. in height. To its west, stands Wenjin Hall (Knowledge Imparting Hall) of two stories in outer appearance, but three stories inside in fact. The hidden story is for storing books.

The mountains account for 4/5 of the Resort in area, with a terrain sloping from the northwest to the southeast. Ranged from south to north, are 4 successive valleys: Zhenzi yu (Hazels Valley), Lishu yu (Pear Trees Valley), Songlin yu (Pine Trees Valley) and Songyun xia (Pine Clouds Valley). On the summit of the mountain rising from Zhenzi yu, perches a large pavilion with a rolling roof, and commanding a distant view of Qingchui Peak (Club-shaped Peak) sparkling with golden and violet rays under the setting-sun light. On the mountain top in the west area, there is a square pavilion built on only two pillars, where one can have a panoramic view of surrounding mountain ranges and peaks. Most fascinating of all is the Pavilion of “Snow-Covered South Mountain”. It is located at a mountaintop in the north with the eastern side being perilous cliff. In the eye of an observer at the pavilion, Wulie River far away in the east, resembled a white ribbon floating out of the mountains, and the lake area were a vivid and enchanting miniatured landscape. In winter times, the pavilion is an ideal place to enjoy the scenery of snow.

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