What do you do when you are yearning for some history? Pick up a history book? Check out the discovery news channel? Or may be if you are one of the kind like me it would make you book a ticket straight to that destination. That’s exactly what made me book my impromptu tickets to China or rather say Beijing. To visit the Great Wall of China, to discover this Wonder of the World.
The moment I landed in China, it was this intense feeling of being a foreign land, and never had I felt so overseas. Yes traveling to a country like China by yourself can leave you feeling like that especially when there is language barrier. Trying to get hold of the place, the city and people I made my first excursion at the Tiananmen Square. Arriving at the largest square of this kind on the world, this place was home to parades and rallies. Located in the heart of city watching the sunset here together with the soldiers, tourists and locals made the square a true highlight for a first time visitor like me.
Known for being the square of its kind, each 4 sides of the square are inundated with a historic site. Tiananmen (Gate of Heaven Peace) to its north; the Great Hall of the People on its west, on the east of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum of China, and there is Monument to the People’s Heroes on the south. So much history, so much to see all within a square!
After spending a good few hours at the square next I embarked on the Forbidden City tour. Only on entering this expanse I realised how many tourists actually from across the world come to visit this city.
This large palace complex consisted of over 9,000 rooms and spread over 250 acres. The Forbidden City was built, burnt down, rebuilt, plundered and refurbished countless times, and hence got the name after it. With different gates guarding this city after my visit to the Imperial Palace I went straight out through the Gate of Divine Prowess, to Jingshan Park! The panorama view of the Imperial Palace from here is just majestic. Being lucky enough to be here in the summers, the sight of the Forbidden City was brilliant.
Temple of Heaven was a real highlight of Beijing the next day. It is known as one of the most holy places for the whole country for more than five centuries.
There are three marble terraces, representing Hell, Earth, and Heaven, in order. The upper terrace is constructed with a centre stone surrounded by 9 concentric circles of stone tiles, the second contains 18, and so on, until there are 81 stones in the 9th circle. The centre stone is called the Heavenly Center Stone. No wonder I encountered this long queue to just get clicked standing on this stone!
The atmosphere around here was so peaceful and happy seeing people contentedly entertain each other with music, songs or quietly playing games. I too gave a shot to one or two things here. After visiting this happy place, an evening rest was a must as I had to gear up for the biggest climb, the climb to the Great Wall of China tomorrow.
With an early start next morning having arrived at the foot of the site and being super thrilled, sharp cold air brushed my face as the first views of the Great Wall of China appeared over the treetops. And I couldn’t believe my eyes that I was really here. Taking my first steps towards this majestic monument, the sheer untainted beauty of this monument was about to unravel many stories.
Before setting off I got acknowledged with there being many restored spots on the Great Wall, with Badaling being the closest from where I started. With every climb upwards I comprehended that the stones stacked were quite high and sturdy. The once rugged and wrecked parts of the wall were transformed and brought to their former wonder for making the climb easy. The Great Wall meandering across Beijing in its northern part is about 6000 kilometers long and as a visitor having few hours of sunlight in hand I could make a journey to only 6km! That was like 1/1000th of the entire trail only.
The higher I climbed; the landscape around the Great Wall shifted with the seasons and impacted the views from the wall. It seemed like the land was opening one eye to say a sleepy hello to his first time travelers like me braving the winds. Juggling to have a look down how far I made it, I was left dazed with the views downside. Discerning the sights with my bare eyes, I managed to take some shots of the wall, however the lens could not capture the incalculability and splendor of this structure in a single frame. It was hard to believe that I really made it to a spot known across the world over, built by hands from mere stones and earthy materials. Thanks to those rare blue skies, I could capture the views of the wall stretching to the horizon, rising and falling across the mountains too!
The wall was nothing like what I expected, but was a much more overwhelming experience and just one word to sum up the climb. ‘Flabbergasting’
My last stop before I left the city of Beijing with overachieving memories was the largest royal garden in China, Beijing’s Summer Palace. It was more like an imperial retreat spread over 10 square miles, a place that hosted as the summer retreat for emperors. The glimpses of the park are still inherited with tourists, relaxing and walking around ancient pavilions, mansions, temples and lakes.
Only after having spent time in this city of recreation, one can know and understand the Chinese culture and secret to good health. And what best when it came with a bonus of visiting one of the Wonder of the world, or rather say climb it too!
- Bring in extra energy and fitness to climb The Great Wall Of China
- Visit to the Summer Place
- Spend time at the Temple of Heaven
GlobeTrotting365Days: Beijing 29th May 2009.