Fragrant Hills Park
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1 Xiangshan Lu
HOURS: Daily Apr. 1-June 30, Sept. 1-Nov. 15 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m.,
July 1-Aug. 31 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Nov. 16-Mar. 31 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
COST: Nov. 16-Mar. 31 ¥5, Apr. 1-Nov. 15 ¥10;
Biyun Temple: ¥10;
Cable car: ¥50 for single trip, ¥60 at weekends and holidays,
¥20 for children
METRO: Shangdi (Line 13)
The hills in this beautiful park take their name not from their aroma, but from the Incense Burner Peak (Xianglu Feng). Rising 557 meters (1,800 ft.), the hill is crowned with two boulders that resemble an incense censer. The park was an imperial garden during the Qing Dynasty, and covers 160 hectares (395 acres).
It was first designated as a park during the Jin Dynasty, undergoing expansions in the Yuan and Ming eras. Qing emperor Qianlong decreed that more pavilions and halls be built; he named those pavilions and halls in the Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure. Many of the garden’s buildings were damaged during the British attacks that ruined the Old Summer Palace in 1860.
Fragrant Hills Park is particularly popular in the fall, when the Red Leaf Festival begins.
The northern reaches contain Yangjing Lake, the Bright Temple lamasery that was built for the visit of the sixth Panchen Lama, and the Study of the Reading Heart. The southern route will take you past the Green Tranquility Lake, Shuangqing Villa, Fragrant Temple, and the Incense Burner Peak.
© Susie Gordon from Moon Beijing & Shanghai, 2nd Edition