Beijing Beihai Park
To the west of the former Imperial Palace lies a vast expanse of water known variously in ancient times as Western Garden or Celestial Lake. The Celestial Lake is divided into Beihai Lake (North Lake), Zhonghai Lake (Middle Lake) and Nanhai Lake (South Lake), of which Beihai Lake is the most famous. As early as 800 years ago, the lake had already been developed into a gigantic imperial garden. In 1925, Beihai Lake was formally converted into a public park. Since then it has displayed its beauty and elegance to tourists.
The buildings in the Beihai Park are laid out with the White Dagoba on Qionghua Isle as the center. To the south of the dagoba stand the Hall of Karma, Hall of Universal Peace and Hall of Enlightenment, forming a group of structures that extend to the Circular City by way of the Archway of Piled Clouds and Accumulated Verdure, and Yong'an Stone Bridge along a south-north axial line. East of the isle is the Hall of Wisdom Pearl, Wooden Archway and stone bridge, which form another axial line. Around the isle are scattered several dozen halls, chambers, pavilions, terraces and kiosks, linked to each other by corridors. The buildings are laid out in the fashion of a maze. The eastern and northern banks of Beihai Lake are clustered with buildings as well. The Pavilion for Quiet Meditation and the Painted Boat Studio are tucked away in the woods behind the hill. The Five Dragon Pavilions stand abreast at the waterfront. The Tranquil Heart Studio is a garden in its own right. These man-made buildings combine with natural landscape to form a splendid imperial garden.
Qionghua Isle is a man-made "celestial hill", which figures most prominently in the Beihai Park. In the south of the isle stands a group of buildings that belong to the Yong'an Temple, a Buddhist establishment. A stone bridge and the Archway of Piled Clouds and Accumulated Verdure provide access to an array of halls arranged from the foot of the hill to the top. The White Da-goba, built in 1651, or the eighth year of the Shunzhi reign of the Qing Dynasty, stands 35.9 meters high atop the hill. As a Lamaist dagoba, it stands out with a bronze canopy and a gilded flaming pearl. Standing atop the hill, the dagoba has become the center of the surrounding scenery, and the centerpiece of the Beihai Park.
The view around the White Dagoba changes with the season. On Qionghua Isle sits a stone tablet, which is inscribed in Emperor Qianlong's calligraphy with a text that recounts the Beihai Lake as one of the "Eight Major Scenes of the Capital of Yan". When the sun sets, half of the White Dagoba is bathed in the golden rays of the sun, and the other half gleams a bluish sheen under the blue sky, making the White Dagoba look more gorgeous.
To the west of the Hall of Heavenly King on the northern shore of Beihai Lake stands the Nine-Dragon Wall which used to be the screen wall of a building complex. The wall is 6.9 m high, 25.52 m long and 1.42 m thick, and covered entirely with glazed tiles. On either side of the wall is embedded with nine dragons in bright colors and lively images, bumbling in the midst of clouds and water. It counts as a gem among ancient glaze-tiled structures, and is a must for visitors to the Beihai Park.
Transport: Bus Nos. 5,101,103,109,118,812 and 814
06:00-22:00 (busy season)
06:30-20:00 (slack season)