Do you want worship at the Temple of Heaven like the Chinese emperors did it in ancient times? Ancient emperors regarded themselves as sons of God, so emperor of Ming Dynasty built Temple of Heaven for altar to both earth and heaven. Many travelers come there because they are curious how the the altar could directly communicate with heaven. Also Temple of Heaven has a typical Chinese architecture when you travel to Beijing.
The top 3 activities/places should have try inside Temple of Heaven.
- The Echo Wall
- Circular Mound Altar
- The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Echo Wall is the wall around Imperial Vault of Heaven known in Chinese as 回音壁 (Huí Yīn Bì). It is about 3 m. (9 ft.) high and 193 m. (633 ft.) long and has three doors to the south. Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛 Huán Qiū Tán) which is designed more like Heaven: it's an outdoor circular platform on 3 levels. The number of platforms, altars and pillars are 9 or its multiples, because number 9 stands for God in China. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿 Qǐ Nián Diàn) is the place emperors prayed for a great harvest. It's the biggest palace built on the circular platform on 3 levels, which similar with Circular Mound Altar except the Chinese architecture plus.
The interesting thing about the Echo Wall is if someone speaks or sing at one side, then people who stand at the opposite side would hear very clearly. This so that anybody complaining would be heard by God. When you are present in the wall, do not forget to hear what the invisible person in the opposite side said. It will be a magic game when you and your partners stand in different sides to communicate.
There is a special stone in the central of the Circular Mound Altar named Heart of Heaven, it is known as 天心石 (Tiān Xīn Shí) in Chinese. It's said that the voice of person standing on the stone sounds rather resonant. Because of this reason, Chinese ancients regard it as the God's way of announcing things. You should have a try on the stone and listen how sonorous you sound.
Visitors may be interested in The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests meaningful architecture structure. You can't believe that the palace only used timber to finish. It's easy to find that the triple eaves cover different three colors: blue, yellow and green from top to bottom, which stands for heaven, earth and humans. Because of the Chinese architecture related to prayers for good harvest, the 4 inner pillars stands for 4 seasons and 12 outer pillars means 12 months in one year. The special thing is that the pillars and stairs of the platform's structure is number nine's multiples, which stands for the God in Chinese.
When you travel to Beijing, any season would be good to travel to Temple of Heaven. If you want to join the senior citizens doing exercise or dancing in there, you should arrive early in the morning. This is an usual sightseeing when you travel to Beijing. You are suggested to wear comfortable shoes as there is lots of walking to do. If you are interested in the Temple of Heaven and want to see more about Chinese architecture, please click on WindhorseTour's Beijing 5 day Adventure for Active Travelers.