Tomb Sweeping Day – A day to commemorate the dead

This rather curious festival Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival held on the 104th day after the winter solstice. Better known as the Qingming Festival among the natives, it is commonly known by the names Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival because of the bright and clear weather that prevails during the period. Also known as the Ancestors Day, this is the day that one commemorates and pays respect to one’s ancestors, taking time off from their busy schedules to visit ancestral gravesites to pay homage to their dear departed.

This fascinating festival well worth a probe falls on the first day of the fifth solar term (usually on the 4th or the 5th of April depending on the lunar calendar) known as Qingming from which it derives its name. Started off originally as the Cold Food festival, the festival took on the form of the Tomb Sweeping Day in the Tang Dynasty when the emperor would present fire to the officials. The emperor would start a fire from which he would light branches and hand them to his officials. By the time they get home the fires will be extinguished and they would put down the branches on the front of their doorsteps. However in the Song Dynasty, candles were used as an alternative to the branches.

This is the time for visiting cemeteries and paying their respect to the dead. During this time, one can see hoards of people kneeling before their ancestors’ tombs, praying, offering flowers, food and lighting joss sticks. They also sweep and clean the tombs and some are even seen carrying willow branches or hanging them on their doors and windows on Qingming Day as they believe that willow branches ward off evil spirits. Another delightful sight witnessed on this day is the multicoloured kites that adorn the skies which take shape of various animals or characters from Chinese Opera Plays. This is a day for families to get together and go on a well earned holiday, enjoying quality time together, taking walks in the countryside, planting willows and just simply indulging in life itself.

While on this journey of discovery, the visitors may also want to burrow into the luxuries and the unique experience that only a Beijing hotel can offer. Raffles Beijing Hotel is a popular hotel in Beijing that is known to offer its guests with the authentic cultural experience that every ardent culture enthusiast craves for on their travels.

Beijing Five Pagoda Temple (Watu Temple) – Witness China’s Diverse Culture

China is fast becoming a developed country, but it will always retain its age old beauty as the country has achieved a beautiful balance, where they don’t let modernity reduce the value given to their culture and history. In the past the country was one of the greatest cities in the world, and the remnants of this regal and sacred past can still be seen. Religion is given high regard in China even today and for visitors there are many long standing religious monuments to visit. As Buddhism is one of the country’s most prominent religions there are places of worship dedicated to it as well, and one such site that must be visited by all is the Beijing Five Pagoda Temple, or the Watu Temple.

The temple dates far back to the 1400’s when it was originally known as the Zhenjue Temple, and has since undergone many changes throughout history. It has been renovated many times, including total renovations when it was destroyed. The temple was only open to the public in the 1800’s and has since been a major attraction among visitors. Though today no monks reside in the temple it is popular as there are many precious Buddhist items on display here making it a popular museum.

The draft for the design for the temple was brought to China by an Indian monk, and thus is unique as it mixes Indian style patterns with the fairly different Chinese style of art and architecture. The high rising structure is made up of several tiers on which visitors will find intricate inscriptions and precious gold plates which are centuries old but timelessly beautiful. It is known as the Five Pagoda Temple as there are five of these structures at the top which add greatly to the beauty of the structure. In addition to the physical finesse of the structure visitors also appreciate the peaceful and serene ambiance that is felt within the temple. It is the ideal place to stop over at for visitors to China who want to experience the great variety that is seen in the country’s culture.

When selecting a Beijing hotel to stay in visitors will greatly enjoy the exquisite Raffles Beijing Hotel. This accommodation is a popular choice from Beijing luxury hotels, as it makes visitors feel that they have entered the country’s past, while still retaining the comforts and luxuries of the present.

Dixia Cheng – A city underground

Ever visited a city under another city? Dixia Cheng is just that! It is an underground city that served as a bomb shelter, connecting a network of tunnels beneath Beijing, China. It has been transformed into a tourist attraction and is visited by thousands a year. Constructed in anticipation of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union in the 1970s, the site reopened in 2000 after renovations.

Covering an area of 85 square kilometres, the underground complex was famous among foreign tourists but was virtually ignored by the local residents of Beijing. A small shop front in Quienmen formed the entrance for most visitors although there are many other approved entrances to enter the sections of the complex where viewing is allowed.

Except for the portrait of Mao standing amidst murals of folk who volunteered to dig tunnels, and almost disappearing slogans such as “Dig the Tunnels Deep”, “Oppose Hegemony and Prepare For War” and “Prepare For Scarcity”. The propaganda posters from the era are unintentionally amusing. The initiators of the tunnel boasted of being able to house all of China’s six million inhabitants upon completion.

The boundaries of Beijing’s official districts are rather arbitrary owing to the uniformity of the architecture. But the experience that this city offers among the hustle and bustle of the busy city streets is quite overwhelming. It provides a unique insight into the history of the nation and the work ethic of the people who tirelessly created this amazing structure beneath the ground. Ahead of the game in the fast emerging world of technology, the city of Beijing is reputed the world over as an eastern hub for business and technology.

When planning a visit here, it is easy to find a hotel in Beijing offering star class accommodation options. Raffles Beijing Hotel is a Beijing hotel reputed for its impeccable service standards and glamour. The hotel offers an amazing experience to its guests complete with spas, excursions and authentic Chinese cuisine. Located in the heart of the business and commercial districts, a few minutes away from the mystical Forbidden City, the Silk Market and other famed attractions, Raffles Beijing Hotel is the perfect place to reside in as you explore the wonders of the city.