THE CHINESE EMPEROR RETURNS TO THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
FOR THE ANCIENT SACRIFICIAL RITUAL OF THE GOOD HARVEST
In the Temple of Heaven the ancient Chinese emperors make offerings to heaven and make prayers for a good harvest. A great ceremony, with actors and traditional costumes of ancient times, has brought enthusiasm and excitement in the visitors and fans of China tourism.
Within the Temple of Heaven the Ming and Qing emperors addressed their prayers to heaven for grant a good harvest. The ancient ceremony was revived nowadays, with an impressive performance that has perfectly recreated the atmosphere and all the gestures of ritual, as it was celebrated in antiquity. The ceremony was reenacted during the Lunar New Year (or Spring Festival). An actor in costume dressed as the Emperor, and all his retinue included personal assistants, court dignitaries, and three hundred people dressed as imperial guards, have retraced the path traveled by the emperors, until arriving at the ceremony of prayer. As in the past, the ceremony of the winter solstice included a path of about 700 meters, with various stops for invocations to heaven. The highpoint of the ceremony was performed on the Earthly Mount (Circular Mound Altar), a wide platform in three levels of marble stones, built on a small hill, where the Emperor made his prayer for a favorable weather and a good harvest. The news of the reenactment has been widely reported in the world, bringing excitement and interest among the tourists who have visited or intend to visit China.
A beautiful monument, built 600 years ago
The Temple of Heaven was built between 1406 and 1420 from Yongle Emperor (Ming dinasty), it was later rebuilt during the Jiajing in Ming Dynasty, and Qianlong in Qing Dynasty. The area of Temple occupies 272 hectares on which are located numerous buildings. The finest and most famous construction is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It is really a beautiful building: round, three levels, with blue tiled roofs (this is typical of Taoist temples). The Temple of Heaven is 38 meters tall and it is built on a three levels marble terrace. The building is constructed of high level technical, based only on the wise use of timber without employ nails.
A complex design for a religious purpose
The temple has been designed complex, maybe due its sacred purpose. It reflects the cosmological laws, and it is believed that controls the universe. Hence, the numerological permutations that are complex operate within its architecture. For example, number nine which is considered as the powerful digit is used to build the slabs. The slabs form a circular altar that has been laid down in multiples of nine. Similarly, there are twenty-eight columns within the Hall of Prayer building, and these columns are divided into 4 central pillars. The four pillars represent the seasons, and the twelve inner columns represent the number of months. The twelve outer columns represent the 2 hour tranches, which makes up the day. The intense numerology that works through this building is huge.
A charming area for the Chinese people
Although, during the imperial times, the public was not allowed inside the park, now visitors can enter the area paying a minimal fee. The Chinese citizens are the luckiest, because they can stay for the whole day. If you are able to visit at dawn, then you can see people exercising, and you also get to see the older people practicing their slow movements of Tai Qi. You can see the younger ones doing karate-like kicks and punches. It is worth taking a walk at this park, early in the morning.
How to reach the Temple of Heaven
In 1998, the Temple of Heaven was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the year 2005, the Temple of Heaven underwent a repair of 47 million yuan (6 million USD) completed on May 1st, 2006. In summer, during the peak season, the park is open from 6 am to 8 pm. In other seasons, usually the temple is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Getting here is easy, at a short distance there is a subway station (TianTan GongMen, line 5). Leaving the metro, the exit is close to the corridor and the famous Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
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