Forbidden city – The Enchanting Palace of 15th Century
The mesmerizing palace of 15th century, often referred as the Imperial Palace Museum, the Forbidden City was built for Emperor Yong Le, the third Emperor of the powerful Ming Dynasty that existed for 500 years. The palace was constructed between 1406 and 1420, and was sacked, rebuilt, burnt down and renovated myriad times, and hence the present captivating architecture is mostly from 1700’s and present times. It was the throne of the imperial Ming dynasty, five centuries ago and toady is a revered historical attraction for locals and visitors in the Republic of China.
The Forbidden City is spanned across the total area of 183 acres and contains precisely 9,999 rooms. Be prepared for an exhaustive walk and days if you desire to have a detailed look of the palace.
The Imperial Palace Museum boasts of rectangle architecture, measuring 961 meters in length from south to north and 753 meters width. A 10 meter high city walls surrounds the palace and52 meters wide wall trenches around the city walls. The city can be entered from four directions as the Palace has been bestowed with 4 gates namely, Eastern Flowry Gate (Donghuamen) on the east, Western Flowery Gate (xinhuamen) on the west, Gate of Divine Prowess(Shenwumen) on the north and Merdian Gate(Wumen) on the south. The Forbidden City has four towers mounting the four corners of the city wall and the complete area measures 724.250 square meters.
The Forbidden City is mainly divided into two parts – back chamber and front court. Interestingly, the monarch bed chamber of Ming and Qing dynasties also share the same division.
The front court of this royal building comprises of three palaces namely, Pailion of the Source of Lierature(Wenyuange), Hall of Lierary Glory (Wenhuadian), Arrow tower, Imperial Hospital, Shang Si Court and Imperial Teahouse. Further, the front court encompasses on the eastern side Cabinet Warehouse, Yu Ying Palace, Qing Embassy and Yan An Palace. On the west, the front court includes Intermal Affairs Mansion, Nan Xun Palace and Building Office.
Back chamber enshrines three palaces as well, and these include the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kunninggong), Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqinggong) and Palace of Union and Peace (Jiaotaidian).
Declared by UNESCO as the World’s Heritage Site, the Forbidden City preserves the largest collection of ancient wooden structures. The design layout of the palace from smallest intricate detail to elaborate structures was meticulously planned to reflect the religious and philosophical principles. The palace displays artifacts and collections based on the imperial Qing and Ming dynasties.
Religion played a vital role in the life of these revered dynasties. The Palace of Earthly Harmony during the reign of Qing Dynasty turned into a site for Manchu Shamanist ceremony. Simultaneously, the local Chinese Taoist religion continued to perpetuate and created its own mark during the reign of the imperial powers. You can find two Taoist shrines in the central area of the Inner Court and imperial garden, respectively.
Buddhism was yet another eminent religion that flourished widely during the rule of the Qing Dynasty. Several shrines and temples dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) were built across the Inner Court. The Pavilion of the Rain of Flowers is the most exquisite and important building of the era. It enshrines numerous large Buddhist icons, mandalas and statues placed in a ritualistic arrangement.
Luscious royal gardens surround the Forbidden City on its three sides. Referred as known as Prospect Hill, Jingshan Park is a man-made hill created from the excavated soil from the nearby lakes to build the trench around the city walls. The park is erected on the northern side of this magnificent architecture.
On the west is the Zhongnanhai, an erstwhile garden built on two connected lakes, today it serves as the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and central headquarters for the Communist Party of China.
To the north-west of the Forbidden City is the Beihai Park which has also been constructed on tow adjoining lakes.
Two chief shrines- the Imperial Shrine of Family (Tàimiào) and Imperial Shrine of State (Tàishèjì) are erected on the southern side of the Forbidden City. These are the shrines where the spirits of the emperor, his ancestors and the nation lays to rest. Today, the shrines are commemorated in remembrance of Sun Yat-sen and dedicated to Beijing Labouring People’s Cultural Hall.
The visiting hours are from 8:30 A.M-5:00 P.M. It takes two hours to travel around the Forbidden City. Entrance fee is $9.39 and you can hop onto the bus numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 52, 57, 22, 54, 120 and 802 to reach the captivating Forbidden Palace.