Everything About BellsBeijing, Spring 2012
Last weekend we managed to get a string of amazing weather and amazing air days – and since we had a Saturday afternoon free from homework, a couple of my friends and I opened up a guidebook and decided to go to Dazhongsi, or Big Bell Temple. While it took a little while to get there, this seemingly overlooked temple – which was bigger than we expected – actually proved to be a really fun excursion.
It also proved to be all about bells. We kind of figured that there would be at least one bell, and that this bell would be rather large – we had no idea that the entire temple complex was completely devoted to bells. My pictures don’t even represent this well – I feel like I need to repeat this. Big Bell Temple is a a bell-phile’s dream come true. (Please tell me that someone out there really loves bells, because I feel like I have to tell someone that this is their new favorite place.)
For one thing, the temple itself had been beautifully resorted, and the courtyards felt surprisingly removed from the city despite being right in the heart of Haidian district. Also, this seemed to be the place that the China decided to dump all of the bells that it managed to amass during its history – oh, New Zealand gave China a friendship bell? Stick it in the foreign bells building at Big Bell Temple! Someone found an ancient Yangshao bell? We have just the place for it.
In addition to also having the original giant bell that the temple was known for – and this bell really was big, as it was taller than me – it also had a lot of explanatory exhibits, teaching visitors about the different types of bells in China, how giant bronze bells were made, and differences between bells through time and from different countries. All of the exhibits were surprisingly interesting and engaging, and the bells kept my attention a lot longer than I expected walking in. Overall, Big Bell Temple proved to be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and learn something about an oft-ignored musical instrument.
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