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Fragrant Hills
The feudal Emperors of ancient China had on lack of places to rest, play and retreat to. One more place on this long list of Imperial Recreational Grounds is the Fragrant Hills. Situated 28 kilometers northwest of Beijing, the Fragrant Hills are the tail end of the larger Western Hills range.

In the 12th century the area was a royal hunting park. Its focal point is Incense Burner Peak, 557 meters above sea level and named for the huge rock on top of the mountain that supposedly resembles an incense burner. You can climb to the top, or take a cable car up. As early as 1186 there was a temple here, and in 1745 the Garden of Tranquillity and Pleasure(Jingyiyuan)was laid out around the hill. one can see the Yongding River, Luding Bridge, Prospect Hills, Summer Palace, Yuquan Hill and the outskirts of the city.

One popular thing to do in Beijng is to go the Fragrant Hills in autumn, when the leaves of the trees on the mountains are a blaze of red and yellow. However, it is so crowded at this time that it is much more enjoyable to go in the off season.

When autumn arrives, the scenery on Xiangshan (Fragrance Hill) is marvelous and florid. The green woods of pine and cypress trees are interspersed with some red maple and goldenrain trees and compose a gorgeous landscape.

Among the red autumnal leaves on Xiangshan, the most famous category is the egg-shaped leaves of smoke trees. The round smoke tree leaves dominant the south side of Xiangshan turn into red after some frost and as the frost becomes thicker, the leaves turns from light red, into vermeil, then into scarlet.

The best time to the hill is autumn when the red leaves decorating the trees on the hillside add an extra special glow to the area.

  In fact, many Beijingers come here every year to collect red maple leaves.

Every autumn, the woods look as if dyed into red or a piece of the rosy clouds fallen from heaven. During this season, Xiangshan is crowded with tourists. "Some green peaks far away, nearby are all red autumnal leaves. After a day of sightseeing, riding a donkey on the back road in the light wind, composing some poetry to express my mind." The poetry is a vivid portraiture of a trip to Xiangshan on an autumn day.

Visitors may take two main routes to explore the park. The first one is to go along the north route, where visitors will see Spectacles Lake (Yanjing Lake), Study of Reading Heart (Jianxin Zhai), Bright Temple (Zhao Miao), etc. Spectacles Lake is a lake divided half by a bridge. Study of Reading Heart was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was noted as the park inside Fragrant Hills Park. Bright Temple is a large Tibetan style lamasery complex built in 1780 as the residence for the sixth Panchen Lama during his visits to Emperor Qianlong. Buildings in the complex have partially been burned down. Among the surviving treasures are a majestic glazed-tiled archway in front of the complex, a Tibetan style terrace and a glazed-tiled pagoda. Bells hung on the eaves of the pagoda chime in breeze.

Another route leads to the south area of the park. Main attractions along the route include Tranqulity Green Lake (Jingcui Lake), Shuangqing Villa, Fragrant Temple, Incense Burner Peak, etc. This route is a little hard for the highest peak, Incense Burner Peak. However it is worthwhile to try. One of the 'must see' points of interest is the Shuangqing Villa, which is attractive not for its natural beauty but more for its place in Chinese history - it was once the residence of Chairman Mao Zedong as well as an early sight for the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

The alluring beauty of Fragrant Hills Park waits for you to appreciate all it has to offer.

Address: Xiangshan Lu, Haidian District, Beijing

Admission Fee: CNY 5 (Nov. 1 to Mar. 31)
CNY 10 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31)
Opening Hours: 07:00 to 18:00 (summer)
08:30 to 17:00 (winter)
Time for a Visit:
One hour
Bus Route: 318, 331, 333, 360, 634, 714, 733, 737...

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Beijing Private Tour:

Booking a Own Car To Fragrant Hills From 70 USD / Day

 Tour Guide Reservation From 65 USD / Day