Saturday, September 13, 2008

Western Hills

The Western Hills is a hilly region in the western part of Beijing, China, part of the . The Western Hills comprise the western part of the Haidian District, as well as parts of the and districts.

An area renowned for its scenery , the Western Hills have long been a retreat for Chinese scholars, religious men, and members of the government and civil service. The Western Hills are divided into three parks, the closest to Beijing's city center of which is the Beijing Botanical Garden , which is located just to the west of the Summer Palace .

The most popular area in the Western Hills is the Fragrant Hills Park , located 2 km further west, in the eastern part of the Western Hills. Nearby is the Temple of Azure Clouds .

South of the Fragrant Hills Park is Badachu , an area located in the Shijingshan District, which features eight temples and monasteries.

Other attractions include the Jiufeng Forest Park , the Dajue Temple , and Wofo Temple , which features a reclining .

Tourists also come to the Western Hills in the winter to see the snow-covered hills , and in the autumn to see the red leaves .

The Western Hills also contain the 's Western Hills Command Center , a secret, bunker-like underground facility that was built with the assistance of the USSR in the 1950s, and now serves a purpose similar to the United States Military's . Mao Zedong lived in the Western Hills briefly, and the Politburo of the Communist Party of China retreated here briefly in 1989.

The Beijing Subway extends all the way to the Western Hills, although the last two stops are only used by the military, and are not open to the public.

The Kuomintang also had a secret group named Western Hills, which was set up in 1925 when Sun Yat-sen's coffin was kept there; the group's members, who were Buddhist, believed that the presence of Sun Yat-sen's body could bless them.

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