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Hall of Dispelling Clouds (Paiyundian)

The building complexes in the front of Longevity Hill stand symmetrically with precise and perfect design. Starting from the Yunhui Yuyu Archway in the south, the axis lines up with the Gate of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Tower of Buddhist Incense and the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, upwards to the top of the hill. The Hall of Dispelling Clouds is a complex of buildings forming the core part of the scenic area in the foreground of the hill at its center. 
Yunhui Yuyu Archway
Yunhui Yuyu Archway
Hall of Dispelling Clouds
The Hall of Dispelling Clouds
This building complex originated from the Da Baoen Yanshou Temple (Temple for Praying Great Gratitude and Wishing for Longevity) which was built by Emperor Qianlong as a gift for his  mother's 60th birthday. It was burned down in 1860 and rebuilt during the reign of Emperor Guangxu. The name of the front lower part of the temple (formerly Hall of Mahavira) was changed to the complex of the Hall of Dispelling Clouds. This new name was derived from a verse by the noted poet Guo Pu (276-324) in the Jin Dynasty, saying 'in such a splendid hall, supernatural beings will emerge', which indicates the occupants were blessed with a prolonged life. Empress Dowager Cixi meant to make it her bedchamber when the building was topped out, but she was taken ill when she moved in. She believed she was ill because the hall was so close to the Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Buddhist territory. Therefore, she went to live in the Hall of Joyful Longevity and only accepted congratulations and tributes on her birthday in the Hall of Dispelling Clouds.

 
The Posewood Throne
Throne in the Hall
Walk through the Yunhui Yuyu Archway on the bank of Kunming Lake to the Gate of Dispelling Clouds. This was the former Hall of the Heavenly King. It is connected with the Long Gallery. On each side of the gate lie bronze lions symbolizing protection, and twelve stone statues of the Chinese zodiac animals. After passing through the Second Palace Gate, then comes the Hall of Dispelling Clouds and the Hall of Moral Glory. A previous stone stele pavilion, bell, and drum towers were not reconstructed, but four side halls in the two layers of courtyard were newly built instead.

The first layer of courtyard is between the Gate of Dispelling Gate and the Second Palace Gate, and there is a stone arch bridge over the rectangular pool in the center of the courtyard. The Hall of Dispelling Clouds is in the second courtyard, being the main hall of the building complex. It is on a raised terrace with marble balusters. It has a broad platform with steps in three directions. There is one pair each of bronze dragons, phoenixes, and three-footed vessels, as well as four bronze vats symmetrically on two sides under the terrace. Emperor Qianlong once promulgated the regulation that all the buildings in imperial gardens and retreats could not have yellow glazed tiles, except temples. The Hall of Dispelling Clouds is an outstanding exception. It has yellow glazed tiles decorating the roofs of the main hall and other side halls. 

According to record, on the Empress Dowager's birthday (lunar October 10th), Emperor Guangxu led the princes and court officials and kowtowed to her as she sat on the "Nine-Dragon Throne" inside the main hall. The emperor kowtowed facing toward the hall and the senior court officials knelt inside, while the officials stood under the third grade outside the Gate of Dispelling Clouds. Furnishings in the Hall of Dispelling Clouds remain as festive as they originally were for celebrations of Empress Dowager Cixi's birthday. Although the treasures on display inside are fewer than those in the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, some of them are more valuable.

At the back of the Hall of Dispelling Clouds is the Hall of Moral Glory which was once rebuilt on the basis of the Hall of Tahoden (Hall of Many Treasures) when there was still a temple. It was between the Hall of Dispelling Clouds and Tower of Buddhist Incense, and used as the place for changing clothes and resting when the emperor and empress prayed to Buddha.

To visit this place (together with Tower of Buddhist Incense), an additional charge of CNY 10  is necessary for those visitors who hold Summer Palace entrance tickets, but not necessary for through ticket holders.

Next: Tower of Buddhist Incense

 Related Link: Summer Palace Travel Tips