The second day started out real early as we needed to meet our tour guide at 7am. Yes, that early! As a result, we rushed through breakfast just to get to the hotel lobby on time where we will be picked up.
We hopped on the van, along with the other folks who will be joining us, to start the long journey towards the Ming Tombs. To start off, our tour guide provided a few details about Beijing and how life goes on around here. There’s also a bit of introduction amongst the folks who are with us in the van. So, all in all, we were 8 – a Japanese couple, a solo traveler from Hong Kong, and our group.
Situated 50 kilometers northwest of Beijing, it took us more than an hour to reach the Ming Tombs. Probably it took that long since this one includes a bit of traffic while going through the capital’s business district. Fast enough if compared to my hometown’s traffic situation where a whole hour will be on standstill.
The long trip to the foot of the Tianshou Mountain where the Ming Tombs are located wasn’t so bad since we got to see a whole lot of nice scenery prior to arriving at our destination. As it was springtime, the plants and trees were really beautiful! Well, only some of us – the others were sleeping so soundly probably due to lack of sleep the night before.
This one we visited was called the Dingling Tomb. It is the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun who ruled during the years 1563 up to 1620. It’s considered to be unique among the other 13 Ming Tombs located in the nearby area because it has an Underground Palace. More about that feature later on.
According to our guide, the Ming Tombs were specifically placed here to be in harmony with nature – where the unity of heaven and humanity is considered. A few steps ahead at the entrance, we were greeted with the Stele of Sacred Merits. Took a few pictures here to start off.
Afterwards, we entered the tomb grounds where a background story was given to us about this place. There are also some facts about the Dingling Tomb on the boards near the entrance. So, apart from the emperor, the mausoleum also houses Empress Xiaoduan and Empress Xiaojing. It was built over 6 years and covers an area of 180,000 square meters. Really huge place! I wouldn’t have expected any less for places built for royalty even if it is their burial ground.
We briefly went around the grounds and headed straight into the Underground Palace which was rediscovered in 1956. Located 27 meters below the surface, we had to go down 8 flights of stairs to see what this place is all about.
What greeted us downstairs was amazing! This is definitely one huge palace worthy of royalty – even if it is for burial purposes. Measuring up to 1,195 square meters, this place consists of 5 chambers. Such is also the architectural wonder how this palace was built with just pure stone without the use of any beam or column!
Pressing on, we got to the rear chamber where the coffins of the emperor and empresses are located. Obviously, this had to be the most important one of all. Another given is that the biggest of the coffins in the middle had to be for the emperor. Oh yeah, there are many who throw money at this place as an offering to have their wishes granted.
After going through all of the Underground Palace, we headed upstairs. Easier said than done! The long climb was gruesome that I had to stop many times to recover and breathe. Nah, just being dramatic on that one.
What are your thoughts on the Ming Tombs? Did this post make you want to go and visit it too? Tell me about it by commenting below or using the Contact button on the right.
If you have some questions, feel free to ask. I’ll try my best to help you out.