Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Beijing Day 7 Part 1: Temple of Heaven

day 7 was truly an educational tour for me
i learnt quite a bit abt traditional chinese culture

1st stop, Tian Tan (Temple of Heaven)
literally translated as the "Altar of Heaven"

where i was absolutely awed by ancient Chinese architecture
totally agree with lonely planet's guidebook when it says that (pg. 79) "the temple of heaven's unique architectural features will delight numerologists, necromancers & e superstitious - not to mention acoustic engineers and carpenters"

Qi Nian Dian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest)
one of the most amazing structures i hv ever seen in my life
e original building was built in 1420 but was burned to e ground
so current structure is a replica built in 1889

there are 4 central pillars tat symbolise e 4 seasons
followed by 12 smaller pillars tat symbolise e 12 mths
then there's another 12 outer pillars tat represent e 12 "watches" which is basically e Chinese ancient method of representing time in a day
(imagine e 24 hrs of a day being broken into 12 components i.e. 1 "watch" with each "watch" being 2 hrs)

then as u cn see from e pic, e hall has triple-layered cynlindrical roofs in blue tiles
but on e inside is a dizzy pattern of swirling colours & carvings
& at e pinnacle is a craving of a dragon
they barricaded e insides of e hall so tis was e best pic i cld take of e amazing gilt ceiling

a lot of e structures are in 3s or 9s
which has special significance to the chinese numerology

wat is most amazing (see how many times i used tis word)
is tat tis entire structure measuring approx 38 m high & 30 m in diameter
was constructed on a 3-tiered marble terrance

then there is tis echo wall which surrounds e Imperial Vault of Heaven
wat is so amazing is tat its built in such a way
tat a whisper cn travel from 1 side of e wall to another!!
well, they've also put up barricades along e wall
so Gerry & i cldn't whisper
but e wall really works!
we went on opposite ends & were able to talk to one another!!

then in e centre of e echo wall
there is a san yin shi (triple sound stones)
u see e white square stones in tis pic
basically if u stand on e 3rd pc of stone & give a loud clap
u shld b ale to hear 3 echos of ur clap!
kekeke... u cn jus see e shadow of someone who's trying tat out
but u really hv to stand on e 3rd stone for it to work
Gerry & i cld only manage to get 2 echos
try as we mgt, we jus cldnt catch e 3rd echo

then last (but definitely nt e least of e amazing structures) is e yuan qiu (Round Altar)
tis is where e emperor wld hold e annual prayer ceremony & communicate with e Heavens
again, its white marble in 3 tiers & circular in its construction

e top tier, which is supposed to represent e heaven has a total of 9 rings of stone
each ring has multiples of 9 stones
so e 9th ring has 81 stones
(count for urself in e pics!!)
e middle tier represents earth
& has e 10th to 18th rings
the e last tier which represents humanity has e 19th to 27th rings
note again tat even e rings in each tier is in multiples of 9!!

apparently, i learnt tat odd no. are supposed to be heavenly
& since 9 is e biggest single digit odd no
its sorta e "most powerful"

& u see e huge single stone in e middle of all those rings
apparently e emperor wld stand upon tat very stone & shout to e heavens
& his voice will bounce off all those marble
& b magnified 9 times!?

well, according to e guidebooks tat we got
if u get there like really early (like at dawn)
u'll see e locals engaged in their leisurely morning activities
kekeke... but i say if u're lucky enuff
u'll still b able to get up later & still catch some of them at it
there were locals dancing away, doing some sorta racket exercise thg
& we even caught these men singing & playing their instruments!!

after e Temple of Heaven
we had originally intended to visit one of e street markets
but when we tried to get a cab
we were told tat e market tat we had wanted to go to was closed
(which apparently isnt true!!)

we ended up heading to another temple tat e driver recommended
well, tis was e driver who shared with us some weird stories abt beijing (including e one abt Chairman Mao nt being able to stay in e Forbidden City)
but we spent quite a sum of money at e temple itself
unfortunately, they didnt allow for photos
so i dun hv anythg to show

& actually, up to now,
i'm still nt sure if we were being ripped or nt?!


Anonymous said...

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having my breakfast coming over again to read additional news.

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