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Chengde Introduction

chengde mountain resortOnce called Rehe (Hot River), or Jehol, Chengde is situated roughly 250km northeast of Beijing. The town remained unknown until early in the 18th century, the Qing emperor Kangxi built a summer palace here, with a throne room and the full range of court trappings in Chengde. Kangxi called his resort Bishu Shanzhuang (Fleeing-the-Heat Mountain Villa).

Later during the reign of his grandson Qianlong, it grew into an immense Imperial Summer Resort. To add to the splendor, Qianlong had the surroundings dotted with temples, replicating the distinctive minority architecture, even going so far as to built a miniature version of Lhasa's Potala Palace inside the garden.

In the 19th century, after the emperors Jiaqing and Xianfeng both passed away in Chengde, the town's courtly bustle slipped into morbid slumber. Although the period of neglect did little to improve the condition of the city's architecture and relics, it did not lessen the appeal of the breathtaking rock formations and the cultivated gardens around them.

Today, after plenty of restoration, Chengde can again boast not only of the grandeur its surrounding mountains, but also the distinctive charm of refurnished artifacts. The city covers area of 39, 500 square kilometers with a population of 3.61 (by 2005). A little more than 1/3 of the population belongs to ethnic groups including Manchurians, Mongolians, Hui, Koreans, etc.

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It is easy to see why Wulingyuan is proclaimed to be the setting for the movie Avatar. The spectacular sandstone peaks and the lush vegetation make it seem like a paradise on earth.


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