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Explore a Captivating Jin Dynasty Parkland in Beijing’s Fragrant Hills

Tucked away within the eastern quarter of the Western Hills in northwest Beijing’s Haidian District lies a natural enclosure that is one of the Chinese capital’s most stunning enclaves. Sprawled across 395 acres Fragrant Hills Park is parkland cum pine-cypress forest that is littered with cultural relics and breathtaking natural beauty. Built in 1186 by the Jin Dynasty this expansive natural enclave was expanded by the Yuan dynasty and Ming dynasties subsequently.  Listed as one of the ten most famous parks in the Chinese capital Fragrant Hills Park is named after its highest peak Xianglu or Incense Burner Peak which has two stone slabs resembling incense burners at its summit.

There are two main routes visitors can use to explore the park laden with maple trees, persimmon trees and ancient architectural structures. The northern route cuts across Spectacles Lake and the Ming Dynasty park Study of Reading Heart while the 1780 built Tibetan lamasery complex Bright Temple is also accessible along this path. Having served as the residence of the sixth Panchen Lama when he visited China, the venue’s highlights include a pagoda with glazed tiles and a traditional Tibetan terrace. An exquisite glazed-tiled archway with bells chiming in the wind is another prominent feature at the locale.

The southern quarter of the park on the other hand contains Tranquillity Green Lake, Fragrant Temple and Shuangqing Villa while the 557-metre high Incense Burner Peak is also found in this section of the park. The Shuangqing Villa is a particularly significant point of interest as it was the former home of communist leader Mao Zedong and an earlier period headquarters for the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Flooded with visitors during the months of October and November Fragrant Hills Park is also one of the best venues in China to view leaves change colour to a bright red hue with the on-coming autumn season. The park also hosts the Red Leaves Festival each year due to this very phenomenon which can be best viewed from locations scattered across the venue such as Heshun Gate, Xiangwu Ku and Yuhua Xiu.

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