A Stately Pleasure Dome
Outlined on this page is the plan of the summer palace complex including gardens selected personally by the Great Khan Kubla to be built at Shang-do. The map below lists all the major locations within the pleasure dome complex. The summer palace and gardens are now more than half complete. All the structural work is complete and the decorative work is beginning. This will, of course, take up the majority of the time remaining until the Great Khan arrives at high-summer.
Hover over a location on the map to learn its name. Click on it to see the description of the location. A larger version of the map opens in a new window.
A large paved area suitable for parading soldiers, greeting dignitaries and holding competitive athletic events and displays of martial skill. The two guard houses on the far side of the courtyard warn and proect against approaches from that quarter.
The small bridge over the stream, the former bed of the River Alph now much constricted by backfilling with stone, is guard by two Fu-Dogs, bronze statues of a traditional beast which is a hybrid of a dog, a lion and a dragon. They always appear in pairs, the female guarding her cubs, the male holding a ball of chi energy. Completed
The Brocade Hall
This is the main audience hall and banquet rooms. The block to the left of the area is the audience hall. On the right is the banquet suite. The covered section to the bottom of the map contains the kitchens and servants' areas. The section toward of the top of the area contains administrative offices primarily to record any conversations taking place. Entertainments are provided in the central courtyard during receptions. Both the audience hall and the banqueting suite can be opened to look out onto the courtyard.
Both the audience hall and the banquet rooms are filled with embroidered and brocaded tapestries depicting scenes of an idealised natural world which can be changed to suit the current season, famous scenes from Mongol and Chinese history and representations of legendary gods and heros. Completed
Along the edge of the 20 metres cliff face, between two mounds of tumbled rock, the River Alph falls to a pool at the bottom before continuing on its way to the sea. The spray thrown up by the water crashing down the rock face often creates rainbows which can be from the gardens and the roar of the waterfall is distance enough to be diminshed into a harmonious almost musical background. Completed
Tranquil Fish Canal
The artificial canal has diverted the natural flow of the River Alph from a course which took it over and past the Dragon Pool and around where the entrance to the palace complex to the waterfalls. It is filled with carp abnd turtles and the fishing from its banks is very good. The ripple-beds are placed to ensure that nearby areas are bathed in a gentle and soothing sounds of tricking water. Completed
The Dragon Pool
Too large to be covered over, too small to be made a true feature of the garden, the sink hole is referred to cosmetically as the Dragon Pool simply refuses to be tamed and molded to the balanced and harmonious design approved by the Great Khan. How will he react when he notices this eye sore?
The edges of the sink hole have been made structurally more sound and ready to receive its final decoration. The structural work has cost the lives of seven workmen so far. It has also reduced the flow of the river into the sink hole allowing it to be diverted from its natural course through the canal to the waterfall.
The noise of the river rushing over the edges of the Dragon Pool into the earth disguises the fact that there is no sound of water splashing into any pool at the bottom of the sink hole. No explorations so far - largely confined to lowering lanterns on ropes - has discovered its bottom. It is known, however, that objects thrown into the Dragon Pool appear days, weeks, and in some cases months later in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
This area is set aside for the ordinary functions of government and the running of the palace. Here one finds the offices and apartments of various ministers and officials when the Khan is in residence, the offices and apartments of the people who manage the palace while the Khan is in the capital Chang'An and the quarters and general work places of the servants who make the whole machine work smoothly like clockwork. Completed
This is where the Khan stays with his wives and servants when in residence. It is a self-contained area in which the Khan need have no contact with any but servants and specifically invited guests. The penalty for intruders found here is immediate death. Four wagons of the Khan's personal possessions, family and national heirlooms such has his second shield, second horse and the skulls of his uncle Ogedai's enemies have already been installed here. Completed
Tower of Cosmic Reflection
From the top of this three-storey, three-step pavilion, one can survey the entire palace/gardens complex and bath in the harmony of its design. When the place is finished, the view will be magnificient.
The problem at the moment is that the sink hole, the Dragon Pool, is an offence against the balance and harmony of the current design. While the land and water surrounding it has been tamed from it natural state into something fast approaching beauty, the Dragon Pool refuses to be tamed or be fitted into the soft lines of the overall design. This is not so visible from the ground but it cannot be hidden from the vantage point of the Tower.
Glade of Permeating Fragrance
At the end of the path, a wooded arbour opens onto a bamboo pavilion. The walls are made of different aromatic woods woven together to form a lattice on which grows climbing flowers. The architect's vision is of the gentle and subtle blend of fragrances transporting the imbiber into a state of tranqility in which the universe may be contemplated and one's place in the natural order re-affirmed. Completed
The Seven Sages in Stone
The stone-laid platforms is built upon a ridge of varigated boulders. Around the pavilion in the centre of the platform are statues representing the seven third century artists, painters and musicians who sought to escape hypocrisy and live in harmony with the world. Contemplation of the sages is said to provide the wisdom to overcome one's current difficulties.
Walking on the Moon Pavilion
The stone jetty terminates in a pavilion which hosts an oil fire tended constantly by servants to ensure it does not go out while the Great Khan is in residence. The fire has not yet been lit as the Khan is not yet present. From this pavilion, one can see the moon reflected in the waters of the River Alph, transpoting the viewer to other times and other worlds.
An odd name for a garden feature which is not a bridge nor filled with roses. The rose bridge juts out towards the Dragon Pool and allows anyone standing on it to watch the fish swim around the stone pillars which support it. The soft spray from the Dragon Pool completes the experience of communing wih the aquatic element.
The Iron Pavilion
This pavillion is built of cast iron posts and rails. At the centre of the pavilion is a polished steel model of the summer palace and gardens set into a zodiac with moveable rings representing the seven planets (sun, moon, mercury, venus, moon, mars, and jupiter), the seasons, the zodiac and regularly regularly occuring stellar occurences such as comets. Turning a concealed handle transports the model forwards and backwards in time.
A small garden with a weighty purpose. There are beautifully painted characters covering the walls behind strategically placed plants. The characters covering the walls of this area spell out different wise sayings depending on the angle from which they are viewed and the particular characters revealed through the gaps between the plants. All sayings are derived from either the classic Taoist and Confucian works or from the sayings of the Greatest Khan of the Mongols, Kubla's great-uncle Genghis.
The Village of Chogyal
The unskilled labourers on the project are recruited from the village of Chogyal, a dirty peasant village a few of miles from the site of the summer palace. Refuse piles in what passes for streets and the stench of the slaughter house to the north of the village dominates the air. Huts in the village are built of rough stone without mortar or any chaulking between the the stones. Rooves are of poor quality thatch are filled with lice and other insects. The villagers share their huts with their livestock. The rear wall of the slaughter house is composed of several hundred human skulls. Completed