On the bus ride out to Xiangshan Park, I saw the entrance to another park that looked interesting. It’s called Badachu (Eight Great Sites) and features eight Buddhist temples spread about on three hills (so they say – seemed like one big hill to me). As with many other historical areas here, it was partially destroyed by the Eight-Power Allied Forces in 1900 and has since been restored.
Once again, it was a combination of subway (to Xizhimen) and bus to get there. The weather was particularly unscenic, but not actually raining, at least early in the day. Ironically, it seems that this summer has averaged much worse air quality than last summer, with far fewer clear days. It’s also rained a lot more.
I think that from this position, you should be able to see a hill in the background.
Just inside the entrance (¥10 or about $1.50) there is a waterway choked with lotus, some of which are in bloom:
Moving further along, you see the first temple. At least the first temple you get to – I’m not sure of the official numbering order. This is the Pagoda of the Buddha’s Tooth, part of Lingguangsi (the Temple of Divine Light). It is said to contain one of the four teeth found in the ashes when the Buddha was cremated.
Although it wasn’t very far away, it was largely obscured by haze. The rails of the stairway are decorated with lions, each of which is different:
The dragons are cool too.
Here’s a closer view.
In addition to incense, there are tables burning lotus-shaped candles.
In addition to lions, there are also statues of elephants.
A little further up the hill you come to a dragon-themed area.
For an extra ¥3 you can go in to see this:
It is a single piece of black stone (called “inkstone”) carved into a writhing mass of dragons.
It is not ancient, but carved recently, and took seven years to complete. It’s nice to know some of the traditional arts are still being done well in modern China. It is one of the most impressive things I have seen in China.
A bit further up the hill, there’s a resting area with some old stupa.
It was about here that it started sprinkling. Luckily, there was a refreshment stand that had a few cheap umbrellas for sale.
Sanshan’an (Three Hill Nunnery) is the next temple, and it is home to some cats.
The path up the hill was a bit slippery at times in the rain.
A little further along, you could hear music up in the trees.
It was a blind accordionist. He honestly wasn’t very good, but I really admired how he had come all the way up the hill to do his thing, so I dropped a few kuai in his bucket.
Here is temple number five:
The big characters on the sign say Cai Shen, which is the name of a famous historical figure noted for his generosity. Visiting this temple is said to bring good fortune.
From there on the trail got very steep:
Just kidding. That’s not the path.
A little further along is another temple (of course).
The writing says, Wu fang shijie, shi fang fo, fu du tianxia guanguangke. Which I really can’t make sense of, though I know several of the words. Something about the world and the Buddha. Guanguangke means tourist, which seems an odd thing to find in such a place. I’m open to suggestions.
Under the letters you can see part of a large round rock, under which is a little cave where a holy man is said to have lived for 40 years. It now contains a Buddha statue with many candles.
The temple just above the letters is said to have the best view out from the height. Not on this day.
After reaching the top, heading back down by a different path led to this:
This oddly decorated boulder is at the lower entrance to a gully filled with carved stones. Near one of the other stones is a plaque explaining how the rocks were left behind after the icebergs (that’s the word used) receded from the area at the end of the last Ice Age. They’re called “glacial erratics” in English.
So that’s Badachu. Maybe not one of the more famous Beijing destinations, but quite nice, and possibly even spectacular on a clear day.