Juyongguan Pass and Cloud Terrace

Juyongguan Pass and Cloud TerraceJuyongguan Pass is an important strategic gateway leading to Inner Mongolia. The slopes on both sides of this narrow pass are carpeted by a dense growth of foliage. It used to be one of the eight famous scenic spots in Beijing.

The 15-kilometre-long ravine, flanked by mountains, was the northern entrance to Beijing in ancient times. The cavalrymen of Genghis Khan swept through it in the 13th century. The Yuan Emperors had to travel through the ravine every year to their summer resort in Inner Mongolia, staying overnight here at Juyongguan Pass. Entering the Pass, you will see an ancient platform known as Cloud Terrace, built in 1345, and made of marble. It was called the Crossing-Street Dagoba, since its arch spanned the main street of the pass. There were formerly three dagobas on the top of the terrace. Unfortunately they collapsed along with the nearby imperial residence and other religious buildings during an early 15th century earthquake. Later on, a new temple was built on the site, but it was also destroyed in the early years of the Qing Dynasty. Now only the terrace remains. The half-octagonal-arch gateway is unique and the Cloud Terrace isrenowned for its marvellous artistry.

The exquisite relief on the facades and side walls of the gateway is most impressive. On both sides of the facades are symmetrically carved crossed pestles of the Buddha’s warrior attendants. Above the gateway are images of elephants, lions, serpents and other fabulous beasts.

Engraved on the walls under the arch are daturascrolls, images of Buddha and the four celestial guardians. Their vivid expressions are presented with exquisite workmanship. One shows a furious warrior with a snake wound round his arm. Such grandiose relief works, with several stones pieced together, are rarely seen in ancient Chinese carving. They are undoubtedly -brilliant representation of the 13th century sculpture.

These four majestic guardians were said to have magic power against evil Emperors. When Ming Emperor Zhengde was passing through the gateway in his sedan-chair on a pleasure-seeking tour, the horses heading the royal procession were scared by the awe-inspiring images on the Wall and refused to move. At last, one of the court officials had to cover up the terrifying images with a smoke screen. In this way the terror-struck Emperor and his entourage escaped. On the walls of the gateway, there are carvings of Buddhist sutra in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Uygur, Mongolian and Han scripts. They are valuable to the study of Buddhism and ancient languages.

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