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The Temple Of Heaven In Beijing: Decode The Symbolism

Renowned for its architectural marvel and ancient symbolism, the Temple of Heaven stands as one of the popular landmarks in Beijing. Located in the south-eastern part of central Beijing, the temple covers an area of 2.75 million square metres, surpassing the size of the Forbidden City by a factor of four. The Temple of Heaven is an iconic, ancient edifice, which gained prominence as the emperors of Ming and Qing dynasty used to conduct religious sacrifices and rituals. By Swastika Mukhopadhyay

Temple of Heaven was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1998 owing to its exquisite, geometrical architecture and meaningful symbolism that connects the earth and the heaven.

Three Hidden Gems Inside The Temple Of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features three structures within its main temple complex – The Hall of prayer for good harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Altar of heaven.

1. Hall of Prayer For Good Harvests

Entrapped in the walls of this prayer hall, are the memories of generous offerings and chanting that the Ming and Qing Dynasty emperors offered to the god of agriculture. Apart from its religious essence, this majestic structure stands erected on a three-tiered marble plinth and is 38-metres tall. It has a three-tiered circular blue roof and has been constructed without the use of steel, cement, nails or any structural support like beams.

2. Imperial Vault of Heaven

This is comparatively a smaller hall with a one-tiered roof standing on a one-tiered plinth. The interiors of this hall are filled with tablets of the gods of stars and gods of natural phenomenon. Surrounding the Imperial Vault of Heaven stands the Echo Wall, which possesses a unique characteristic. If you try whispering along the sides of the wall, you’ll be able to hear the sound clearly at the other side.

3. Altar of Heaven

This three-tiered structure is constructed from marble and witnessed the process of the sacrificial rituals done by the Qing and Ming emperors. This structure holds prominence for its exquisite geometric intricacy. The Altar of Heaven is connected to The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests via a 360-metre-long bridge. This bridge is elevated on one side by a metre and the other side four metres, which gives the essence of walking towards the heaven while one walks from the Altar of Heaven to the Hall of Prayer.

Getting There

You can get to the Temple of Heaven by taking the subway, bus or a taxi. Beijing airport harbours international flights and is well connected with other cities. Tourists travelling from abroad can take a flight to Beijing and then take any of these local commutes to reach the Temple of Heaven.

Related: Conscious Travel: An Insight Into Bhubaneswar’s Centuries-Old Temple Kitchens

Priyanka Chakrabarti

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