We have heard about a park in the city that has some old imperial tombs in it. Apparently they are worth a visit.
We got the info from the girls at the hostel, and they agreed it wasn’t too bad a place if you had nothing else to do. So at least we knew it existed. We would need to change buses at some point, and found the area roughly on the map, then we set out. The first bus was easy enough to catch and we headed east. Then we started looking for the bus stops to find the number of the next bus. Jumping out and changing over we commenced the second leg of the journey. Going further and further out of the city, we started tracking our position on the map as we were not sure if we would recognise the place when we got there. This was a good idea, as the place we got out looked like a massive construction site. No, it didn’t look like a massive construction site, it WAS a massive construction site. The road had been ripped up, and we were going over rough gravel, the four lanes being reduced to two, and there was not much of a park to be seen. A bit of a walk up the side of where the park was supposed to be we saw some green. This was the entrance to a parking lot. We walked in and found that it was indeed the park. There was even a sign on it from 2010 saying what it would look like when it was finished. Listing the path around, and the names of the water features. Nowhere did it list a tomb! Were we in the right park?
Walking over to the guy in charge of parking, we asked him with the translator. No real response. Maybe it was spitting out gibberish, so we made a simpler sentence. He had no idea about any tombs, or just couldn’t care enough to tell us where to go.
Well, we were here now, so we thought we would just enjoy a walk around the park. It was thrilling. There was knee high clover everywhere, a few people jogging or cycling along the path, and the odd tree. The lakes were off to our right, and we could feel the sun beating down on us. If you live in a big city, it is just the type of park you want nearby to spend a summers day with friends. That was exactly what people were doing here.
After a while we had a bend in the path. In the distance people were picnicking in the shade, and there seemed to be a few vendors selling kites and (hopefully) drinks on a small rise. We cut across the grass towards them, climbing through a cut out section of the boundary fence to where they were. It was a little patch of dirt in front of a building. There was a sign here, so we went for a quick look at what it was. Lo and behold, we had found the tombs! The drinks stalls forgotten, we went in. There was no-one around at the entrance, so we walked straight through. We assume that we pay for each tomb. We are not sure if there are two or three here. There is supposed to be the Emperor, his concubine, and a prince.
The path took us to the first tomb. Sitting just inside the door was a guard. He asked for our tickets. What tickets? We were supposed to buy them at the entrance gate.
So, we walked all the way back, knocked on the window, and got the attention of the girl in the booth. She had to drag herself away from her phone long enough to sell us the tickets then rushed back to it. It looked like this place doesn’t get that many visitors. Or if it does, they don’t want them.
Back to the tomb, where we had our tickets duly stamped. Descending the steps into the tomb, and you could feel the temperature change. It got cooler very quickly. The domed brick roof providing good insulation. At the base is the first entrance chamber. This is done in the same sort of style as a building. Including eves and roof tiles. The tomb has been plundered over the years, not just for the gold, silver and jade that would have been buried here. A lot of the stonework has also been taken. It is a shame. However there was still a fair bit here, and in pretty good condition. The stone slab that would have held the sarcophagus is still here, and the surrounding walls are finely decorated. We think this is the princes tomb, and were now looking forward to the Emperors. If this tomb was so fine, we can only speculate on the next one.
Moving on to the next one, and we were devastated. The destruction here was almost complete.
The walls separating the different chambers had been destroyed, or hacked off at head height.
Ruined sculptures and decorative stone were scattered everywhere. There was no looking after the pieces, and the alter stones were skewed and had other slabs cast on top of them. It looks as if someone has taken a sledgehammer to it, and left the chunks where they fell. The lack of care was apparent as well. We charge money, you visit. So what. Why would we look after it? There is nothing of value here anyway. We just can’t get over it.
The Princes tomb may have paled compared to the Emperors back when they were built, but today, it is the much better example.
Back out, and we went to the small museum on site. Here was yet another apathetic guard. He only moved his eyes from his phone to tell us not to take photos inside.
Right when the Chinese people beside him were taking photos themselves. Apparently this is a rule in china. Foreigners are not allowed to take photos, but Chinese mainlanders can. It happens time and again. A guard walks past a Chinese person taking a photo to chew us out. It wasn’t as if we even used the flash, as we all know that flash photography can destabilise the molecular structure of pottery and turn it to dust. Or is it that it sucks a bit of the soul our of the pottery eventually leading to its disintegration?
The museum had a number of funeral goods and pottery figurines found in the tombs. Not as impressive as the Terracotta Warriors (which we have yet to see), but detailed reproductions of daily life.