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Qianlong's Mausoleum

The scale of the mausoleum precludes visiting all 15 tombs in one day, but experienced guides recommend Qianlong's Yu Mausoleum and Cixi's Ding Mausoleum for those on tight itineraries. The imperial resting places are fascinating - and make an interesting contrast.

As China's longevous emperor, Qianlong's reign lasted 60 years, and even after abdicating to his son, he continued to rule for an additional three years.

The mausoleum was under construction for 57 years, utilizing the best materials that the country had to offer: stones from Hebei, bricks from Shandong, and wood from Yunnan.

As you enter the mausoleum, a marble slab alongside the steps features a dragon carving, symbolizing emperor on the right and a phoenix, symbolizing empress on the left.

The doors to the burial chamber reflect emperor's belief in Buddhism. The doors are inscribed with Buddhist text and within the chamber, bathed in glowing green light, exquisite carvings dazzle the eyes. The carvings took three years to complete and cost 500 kilograms of silver.

Qianlong was laid to rest in a giant coffin placed in the center of the burial chamber - his portrait placed above the coffin, and his empress and four concubines surrounding him. During the 1928 raid on the tombs, the bones of the deceased were unceremoniously dumped from their vessels, making the identification of the empress and concubines difficult. 

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