Temple of Heaven, Beijing

We had arrived in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon after 24-hours traveling and, understandably, were beat from jet lag, but we didn't let that even slow us down. Thursday we visited Tiananmen Square, the Imperial Palace and a local market. Friday it was the Summer Palace, the hutong and the terrible Chinese opera. Saturday we were off to the Cloisonné factory, the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall. As you can see from the schedule there wasn't a lot of free time to just sit around and do nothing. But, that's a good thing. However, we had a commitment for Beijing and it was beginning to look as though we weren't going to be able to do it.

Our neighbor is a Beijinger whose family is still there and she gave us their name, address and telephone number. She even called to tell them to expect us. We arrived back from the Great Wall tired and exhausted, but we decided to call and make arrangements to meet with her family. I'm happy that we could do it as we had a very pleasant evening with her sister and niece at a tea house the family owns in Beijing.

For us westerners who've never experienced the rituals of a tea ceremony I would highly recommend that you do so whenever the opportunity arises. We'd enjoyed tea ceremonies on previous trips to Japan and this one was even better. Our neighbor's family treated us wonderfully to the point where we could eat and drink no more. Even though we were tired from our day's outing this was one of the highlights of the trip for Anne and I.

Returning from visiting with our new friends in Beijing we immediately wanted to collapse into bed, but this was our last night in Beijing and we had to prepare to leave early the next morning for our last tour in Beijing and then our flight to Shanghai. We managed to get everything back into the suitcases and were finally falling into bed and off to some much needed sleep. When we awoke the next morning we were in for a somewhat pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Believe it or not, on this our last day in Beijing we were greeted with some beautiful sunshine and a deep blue sky. Our schedule called for a morning visit to the Temple of Heaven followed by lunch and then onto the airport for our flight to Shanghai. Seeing the sunshine we immediately began debating whether or not to skip the Temple of Heaven and return to the Great Wall. We almost decided to do it, but we worried that we'd miss our flight to Shanghai so we elected to stay with the tour. While I wish we could have gone back to the Great Wall I'm happy that we didn't miss the Temple of Heaven as it was beautiful. Maybe it was just the glorious sunshine that made it so beautiful to all of us.

Our hotel, Beijing
Anne and Tom
waiting to board
the tour bus
in front of the hotel
and bathing in
our first day
of sunshine
Qinian Dian, Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Qinian Dian
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The grounds were impeccably manicured and planted with
exotic trees and shrubs
Tiantan, or the Temple of Heaven, was the site where the emperor, twice each year, would visit to thank the Gods for a good harvest and pray for the new harvest. The emperor in procession from the Imperial Palace along with 1,000 eunuchs, courtiers and ministers would travel to Tiantan and spend the night fasting and in celibacy in Zhai Gong, the Palace of Abstinence, prior to sacrificial rites the next morning. At the winter solstice he thanked the Gods for a good harvest, and on the 15th of the first month of the new lunar year he begged the Gods of the Sun, Moon, clouds, rain, thunder and lightning to bless the coming harvest.
Musicians playing, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Playing cards, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
To gain entrance to Tiantan it was necessary to walk down a long corridor to the entrance gate.
This being a Sunday morning meant that the area was crowded with local Chinese enjoying a day
off from work. Along the walkway there were Chinese musicians playing and groups of Chinese playing
cards and other board games. It seems that Tiantan was a favored spot for the locals.
Dome of Qinian Dian, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Green enamel glazed
roof tiles
Dome of Qinian Dian, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The dome of Qinian
Dian framed by a tree
Dome of Qinian Dian, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Qinian Dian
Dome of Qinian Dian, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Qinian Dian
backlit by the Sun
Anne of the steps, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Anne standing on the
3-tiered marble stairway
to the top of Qinian Dian
Qinian Dian, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, is a large wooden building constructed without a single nail. It stands 130 feet high and is surrounded by a three-tier white marble terrace. While the site dates to ancient times it was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, the last being in 1890. It has been opened to the public since 1949. The park is square and the temple round which symbolizes that the emperor had to leave the Earth (represented by the square) for Heaven (represented by the round-roofed building).
Inside Qinian Dian, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Inside Qinian Dian
Photo by John
Chinese lanterns at the Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Chinese lanterns were at the base
of the 3-tiered marble stairway
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
A side building at Tiantan
Marble walkway, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Marble walk
Inside one of the buildings, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Inside the side building
Qinian Dian, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Qinian Dian
Ancient dress, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Chinese having a picture
taken in ancient costume
The grounds and long corridor of the Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Qinian Dian in the background showing
the long corridor as we left
Straw hats for sale, Temple of Heaven, Beijing
On the way out I shot this
at one of the vendor booths.
It's one of my favorite shots
from the whole trip.
Before we knew it our allotted time at the Temple of Heaven was up and we were on our way to a local hotel for lunch and then to the airport for our flight to Shanghai. Join us on the next page in Shanghai ...
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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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