October - November 2004
Encounter with China
to China to see and explore the ancient monuments such as the Great
Wall, the Terracotta Army and the Forbidden City is a perfect and genuine
travel experience. China is a big country with the longest civilisation
in the world, over 4000 years old. It has a population of over a billion
people. It is interesting to note why the country is called China.
The name of the first sovereign emperor was Quin Shi Huag Di. It is
him who unified the country into a big empire called Qin, pronounced
as Chin, and from there, the name China originated. He also believed
in eternal life and wished to live forever. Therefore at a young age
he started constructing his mausoleum at the ancient capital of Xi’an
and, for his protection when he died, he had buried with him a huge
army of terracotta warriors. It is said that there are some 7000 life-size
figures of soldiers grouped in order of their ranks and in readiness
for battle. They include guards with swords, spears and crossbows,
together with guards mounted on horses.
recently the city used to be called Peking. It is
an extraordinary city, a seat of power, and the capital
of China. At the heart of the city is Tian An Men
Square, one of the largest squares of the world.
The name means heavenly peace. On the north side
of the square is the Forbidden City, the Imperial
Palace. The Imperial Dynasties ruled China from this
palace, which is spread over 100 hectares and comprises
pavilions and courtyards. It is now a Museum and
houses a magnificent collection of bronzes, porcelain,
paintings, jade and other treasures.
Temple of Heaven in Beijing is a good
example of buildings, which were designed, and built
for gods. The emperors used to come here to pray
for the good of themselves and their subjects. The
richly decorated temple sits on a marble terrace
and, remarkably, it was built in wood without using
The Summer Palace was
built near Beijing over many centuries by the successive
emperors. The buildings are surrounded by Chinese
landscaped gardens, planted with flowering trees
and shrubs. The last Emperor had a lake excavated.
In addition and a unique two-storey structure in
marble, in the shape of a boat, was constructed at
the banks of this lake.
Great Wall is a massive man made structure
and it is claimed that it can be seen by the naked
eye from outer space! With all later extensions it
is some 6500 kilometres long. The main purpose of
the wall was defence from the tribes living in the
The Yangtze River flows
from the Tibetan highlands to the East China Sea
covering a distance of 3400 miles. It is one of the
longest rivers in the world. The best part of the
Yangtze to cruise is between the bustling city of
Changquing and Wuhan. The natural and rural beauty
of this river is a feast to the eye. The cruise is
through green terraced fields, riverside villages
and communities, high mountain ranges, mighty soaring
gorges, cliff top temples etc. The world famous scenery
of the Three Gorges of Xiling, Wee and Qutang is
simply breathtaking. These steep and rugged gorges
are supposed to be some 70 million years old.
Bahadur Mathur is a retired Chartered Architect and Town Planner
and lives in London. Since retirement he is doing honorary and voluntary
work with a few charitable organisations. He is a keen traveller.
All drawings and sketches are by him.
More articles by Bajrang Bahadur Mathur
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