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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Tomb of the Excessive Emperor: Our Ming Tombs Tour

Approaching the front gate of Dingling at the foot of Mt. Dayu
The Ming Dynasty Tombs are located some 42 kilometers north-northwest of central Beijing, within the suburban Changping District of Beijing municipality. It was one of the stops on our way to Mutianyu (Great Wall).

Believed to reside in lakes and pools, Gong Fu, the dragon’s sixth son loves water, Gong Fu’s image is usually carved into drains on bridges, and palace balustrades. It is believed he will fight against flooding and water disasters
a closer look at Gong Fu

There are about 13 tombs in the area, with only 3 opened to the public. Given the distances of the tombs from each other, we only managed to head on out to one, Dingling at the foot of Mt. Dayu.

Deer Horn / Imperial Cypresses - older than the Ming tombs (built around 1420), the branches must always exceed the number 4 to avoid bad luck

good to know
Emperor Wanli wanted to make sure that his tomb would be exceptionally ostentatious so he commenced building his mausoleum relatively early in his reign. Construction started in November 1584, his 12th year as emperor, and was completed in June 1590. He died and was entombed in 1620. The tomb cost a whooping 80 million tales of silver!  

the tunnel gate..according to superstitious beliefs, this here is bad luck to enter
Zhu Yizhun, a.k.a. the excessive Emperor Wanli was buried in Dingling. Was being the key word as his remains as well as two of his Empresses as Fervent Red Guards stormed the Dingling museum, and dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned.

the ceiling on the path down to the tomb  (be warned that the walk down was around 7 or 8 flights of stairs). Your things go through an X ray machine at the entrance to the mausoleum too
Many other artifacts were also destroyed. This was around the time of the China's Cultural Revolution.

Coffins of the emperor and empresses

As the norm in Chinese culture, a lot of symbolism, feng shui and landscaping went into this tomb. The Chinese were always quite ostentatious when it came to their landmarks, especially in dynasty eras. Covering an area of some 180,000 square meters Dingling is one of the largest tombs of the Ming mausoleum area.

the emperor's throne and offerings of money

After walking down those lights of stairs and braving the crowded, stuffy room down below, the good news here is that you don"t have to walk back up. To facilitate crowd traffic, the stairs down allows them to give time for each and every tour group to go around without cramming the place. A nice pleasant tunnel leading outdoors is your exit.

Exit from the underground palace
Walking around the place is just like taking your kid out to the park. It's distance from the city allows you to breathe in clean air, and the cool wind blowing helps alleviate the stress from all that walking and climbing stairs. With all the trees, it kinda reminded me of our hometown in the Philippines.

trees planted even before 1420 abound in Dingling (and yes, the name does kinds sound quirky)

overlaid steel layer for safety. check out the Dragon and phoenix details @ the Inner Sacred Way and Ruins of Ling'enmen
The place has also gone some restorations and outdoor renovations. The platform has a triple staircase on the northern and southern side. In order to preserve the original stairs, the stone steps have been covered by a metal cover.

wishing this was a slide :P
There are wheelchair ramps in certain places, but for folks with kids, bringing a stroller may not be a good idea as a portion of the garden leading to the tomb is not paved, with a lot of tree roots sticking out.  As for the pathways, there are bricked and plinths along the way that make the terrain quite uneven. You could lose a wheel or two on that stroller.

Restored slab in the south center staircase at Ling'endian (another name for Dingling)
 Then there are all those stairs....

one of many..here are the stairs leading to the Soul Tower
As this was a part of our Great Wall tour, I'm not really sire if the direction we took getting here is the regular route. It was a long ride, so I was in and out of naps.

can't get enough of them elephant rides :P

 From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

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