on June 9, 2010
The Ming Tombs are located roughly 50 km away from Beijing and can be reached by bus or on a day trip. A day trip will normally combine the Badeling Great Wall with the tombs and China Travel Service run a good service. The tombs are the mauseleums of the Ming Emporers who ruled China from 1368 - 1644. When you are driving up the valley towards the tombs you will see many of the 13 tombs. Some are stone in colour and some pink. Why pink may you ask, well when the communists took over China they painted some of the tombs red to reflect the new order of power in China. Unfortunately the paint faded to an interesting pink colour. Luckily one of Mao's generals realised what was happening and put a stop to the destruction of this historical gems. Seeing the pink and stone coloured buildings is very interesting and really reminds you of the diverse history of China. Only two of the tombs are open to the public, this is due to the risk of further damage being done to the buildings, and possibly grave robbery! The tombs are very similar in building structure and layout as it is thought that the emperors did not want to out do each other in death. The Changling tomb is the largest and completely preserved tomb. Prices to get in are around 30Yen off season and 45 yen in high season. The Dingling tomb is also open to the public but is underground and perhaps doesn't offer such good views of the area as a whole. On entering the tombs you can be met by an English speaking guide who will inform you all about the history of the tombs. One really sad fact was that all the tradesmen who built the tombs were executed on completion so that they could not tell anyone the location of the Emperor's tomb. What is worse is that every brick has the name of the tradesman who made it. If anything was to happen to the tomb in the future (ie evidence of poor workmanship) then the authorities would know whose fault it was and would take revenge, killing the descendents of the tradesman. Very harsh but accepted by the men in imperial China. Although, it has to be said that many may have been slaves or prisoners of war, so perhaps less "volunteers" then "volunteered!".When the Emperor died his concubines and wives would also have to take poison, often as would the whole household so that they could accompany him to the afterlife. The tombs are therefore shared by a great many people.The architecture of the tomb is based on ying and yang and each of the tombs were placed in a certain point in the valley based on the principles of Feng Shui. It is incredibly deliberate and just fascinating to see and learn about!Walking around the tombs one thing you appreciate is the sheer scale of the project. They are huge reflecting the importance of the residents. On leaving the tomb area you have to walk over a step through the door to the land of the living. This is, of course deliberate and remember to shake your shoulders before you step over. The chinese believe that otherwise the ghosts will come with you. Ghosts have no legs so can't get over the step but can hitch a ride on your unsuspecting shoulders!Overall this is an amazing place to visit. One full of history and beautiful views. One not to miss!
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009