The Changhe River lies in the northwest of Beijing, the outskirts outside the Xizhi Gate. The gentle willow outside Xizhi Gate has long been a sight of seeing in western Beijing. In the past, a saying goes that: “ Watching the pine trees in the Temple of Heaven and appreciating the willows in the Changhe River.” The Changhe River in ancient times was called Kaoliang River. It winds all the way from the gate of Xiuyi Bridge in the Summer Palace to the Kaoliang Bridge, which stands north to the Xizhi Gate. Its river course was dug in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) based on the original water transport of the ancient Kaoliang River in the Liao Dynasty(916-1125). Chen Huan Shilue, a literature of the Qing Dynasty records that “the Changhe River is half a mile’s away from the Xizhi Gate and it lies in the downstream of Yuhe River; its filled by all the streams running down from the Yuquan Mountain. The river was named Kaoliang in Bridge is called Changhe River.”
Changhe River is a beautigul landscape in tthe northwestern suburb of Beijing. Yuan Zhongdao, an essayist of the Ming Dynasty wrote: When passing the Kaoliang Bridge, the road is lined with polars and willows on both sides. A clear stream runs quietly, with the sands and pebbles clearly seem on the waterbed. Water plants grow exuberantly. Wild animals are seen here and there. Small fished awim in shoals, temples stand there one after another. Under the umbrella of green tress leaves is a house with red gate. No human being is seen. All is silent. While the birds chirp and and flowers fade at their own way.” The willows lined on both sides of the River looks like a long belt. “The willows are very tall. They caress the long banks and reach into water.” The best reason for the River are summer and fall. “ When spring comes, beautiful young women wound gather here and the gentle men would manage to find time to come and enjoy the beautiful sights.” Numerous temples stand on both sides of the River, including the famous Five Pagoda Temple and the Longevity Temple. On tile eighth day ne each lunar April. the bathing Buddha ceremony was convened. And all the women, young or old, would go them in high spirits. They sat in groups on the bank, washing the buddha image and enjoying the wines, fruits and musics. The ceremony symbolizes the washing away of troubles and purification of one’s heart and mind. Their colorful skirts decorated the green willows, creating a beautiful picture. The activity lasted until the night falls.
When the allied forces of eight western countries captured Beijing in 1900, the trees and plants on the riversides were devastated. Twenty years later, the Changhe River gradually dried up and became a piece of wasteland.