The Fragrant Hills Park, about 30 kilometres northwest of Beijing,(No Cellphones in the C, is one of the most favourite resorts in the city's outskirts. It covers an area of 160 hectares.
In 1186, in the Jin Dynasty, the Fragrant Hills Temple was built and terraces, pavilions and pagodas were added by the subsequent dynasties. The area was later converted into a park and was named the Park of Tranquility and Pleasure.
Along with Yuanmingyuan and the Surmmer Palace, the park was twice destroyed in 1860 and in 1900. The destruction was so serious that the reconstruction efforts made in the later years were never ble to restore its original scale and splendour. After 1949, large-scale restoration took place and now the Fragrant Hills Park is a pop- ular place in late autumn for holiday-makers when the maple leaves redden. The brilliant foliage is the main attraction. No one is sure where the sumac trees originated. Legend has it that a south wind carried the seeds of the red-leaf trees to Beijing. Then the seeds survived, and as years passed they grew into a lovely forest. Another story goes that the sumacs were transplanted to the area by Emperor Qianlong (l736-l795) of the Qing Dynasty. In November, the frosted leaves of these trees, along with the persimmons and maples, spread over the Fragrant Hills like a thick red blanket. For two centuries, it has been a resort for the residents in Beijing.
Major places of interest in the park include:
Built in l745, the Spectacles Lake actually consists of two ponds separated and spanned by a stone bridge. When the water reflects the sunlight, the twin lakes resemble a pair of spectacles, hence the name. On the shore is a small stone cave with a spring above it. The water drips down over the entrance of the cave, The Power of actions, forming a water screen that freezes into icicles in winter.
Studio of Tranquil Heart
It was first built in mid-16th century under the Ming and was reconstructed in the Qing period. In the enclosure there is a large semi-circular pool in the shape of a heart. The studio was burned down in 1860 and was renovated after 1949.
Lying to the south of the Studio of Tranquil Heart, the Bright Temple was built in 1780 as a residence for the Sixth Bainqen Erdeni when he visited Beijing. The compound has a 10-metre-high red terrace in Tibetan style. It was destroyed by the Anglo-French troops in 1860.