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Myths and Truths of the Western Qing Tombs

You’re invited to join an excursion to the Western Qing Tombs

WHAT: Two-day trip to the Western Qing Tombs, led by Matthew Hu of the Courtyard Institute.

WHEN: Bus leaves 0830 AM Sat June 22; returns approx 1800 PM Sun June 23.

WHERE: departs Hilton Hotel, #1 Dongfang Lu (north of Liangmaqiao subway station on the east side of the 3rd ring road) tel: 5865 5000

COST: RMB 1,480 per person (details below) based on double occupancy. Single supplement is RMB 100 additional.

RSVP: Email communications.ras.bj@gmail.com by June 15, including cell number and participants’ names. In the subject header put “West Qing Tombs”. (Price is based on two persons sharing a room; if you know with whom you’d like to share, please indicate the name)

MORE ABOUT THE EXCURSION: First constructed in 1730, during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng, the Western Qing Tombs include four Qing Dynasty emperors’ mausolea, those of Yongzheng, Jiaqing, Daoguang and Guangxu.

As one of the most controversial and determined emperors of the Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng chose a different tomb site from those of his father and grandfather. His motives for doing have spawned suspicion and speculation ever since.  

Meanwhile the mysterious death of Emperor Guangxu -- just one day before the Dragon Lady, Empress Dowager Cixi, passed away -- is another very popular item of gossip which has persisted for a century.

On this trip, we’ll not only learn the truths behind these elegantly designed architectural heritage buildings from our study leader – Matthew Hu, who has been active in the cultural heritage preservation work in China for years -- but also marvel at the myths and mysteries surrounding these once-powerful rulers of the Middle Kingdom. The Western Qing Tombs were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.


Day 1, (Sat, June 22) Beijing to Yixian (L, D)

This morning, we board the bus for our journey to Yixian County, home of the Western Qing Tombs. If no major delays occur, we should be in Yixian by 10:30 in the morning.

Upon arrival, we start our visit at the Yixian Museum, which is small but very informative with a lot of interesting history about the Qing Tombs and more.

Then, we’ll continue driving to the Tingsong Institute(听松书院), a community cultural centre founded by a talented Tsinghua graduate who comes from this very village.

After lunch, we’ll explore the Tai Tomb -- built for Emperor Yongzheng – first going along the Sacred Way decorated with an archway, the stone general and animal guardians.

As the first and largest Qing Tomb, the Tai Tomb has a lot to offer, so we’ll  spend a bit more time in this site.

In the evening if Ms. Mei Jing, the founder of Tingsong Institute, is in town we’ll invite her to talk about her experiences founding this fascinating centre.

Day 2, (Sun, June 23) Yixian to Beijing (B, L)

This morning, we will explore three other tombs, each with unique features.

Mu Tomb:  This is the final resting place of Emperor Daoguang, whose forces were defeated by the British in the First Opium War. The main worship hall of his tomb is completely built with very precious Nanmu wood. This is one of China’s few surviving Nanmu wood structures.

Mu East Tomb: Built for Emperor Daoguang’s Empress Jiaojing, this tomb has a complicated story – reminding us of the court power struggles of any royal family. The shape of the wall surrounding the tomb is circular, creating an acoustic effect similar to that of the Echo Wall in the Temple of Heaven.

Chong Tomb: Emperor Guangxu was the last emperor in China who had his tomb properly built for him. Its also the only tomb where we can visit the underground chamber, since it was mysteriously opened and raided by a group of armed men in 1938.

After this busy morning, we’ll head to a local village nearby for an authentic Manchu meal. Most of the residents here are descendants of Qing bannermen who had looked after the tombs beginning in the mid 18th century.

After lunch, we head back to Beijing, arriving at the Hilton about 18:00 PM so long as traffic conditions permit.

RMB 1,480 per person for a minimum of 12 paying participants.
The cost includes: 
- All transportation as indicated on the itinerary above.
- All food as indicated above.
- one night (double occupancy) at the Tingsong Institute’s hotel (including breakfast).
- commentary by a Courtyard Institute study leader.
- Admission tickets to all sites.
- fees to experts to facilitate the visit.
- Travel insurance.

The cost does not include: 
- Any personal shopping.
- Optional gifts to the local hosts.

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