Huaqing Pool, 25 kilometers northeast of China’s ancient capital Xi’an and former winter resort for emperors, is now drawing visitors from all over the world. Not only natural beauty but the many historical episodes connected with this spot are the attractions.
Emperor You of the Western Zhou dynasty (8th century B.C.) was the first to appreciate the place and build himself a palace here. Emperor of 11 dynasties followed suit. The place did not gain national fame until A.D. 747, however, when Emperor Xuan Zong of the Tang dynasty extended the palaces and built Hua-qing Poll, using water from the natural bot springs. The area has been called Huaqing Pool since then.
This resort is situated at the foot of Mount Lishan. Carved on a cliff are several big Chinese characters denoting the source of the hot springs. Just below the sign is a steaming pool surrounded by green balustrades.
The bot springs were discovered three thousand years ago. They have a voluminous, regular flow and a constant temperature of around 43C. (1099.4F.). The water contains various bathing.
One enters the park area through a moon gate and comes upon the artificial Nine Dragons Lake. Even in the depth of Winter the trees here grow luxuriantly. willows by the lakeside are dainty buildings topped by golden glazed tiles. At its southern end the lake is linked to Lotus Pond
Into which crystal clear water pours from nine dragon-head spouts in the wall. North of the lake is a hall built in traditional Chinese style, with upturned eaves shaped like a prostrate dragon. A phoenix cast in bronze stands in front of the porch.
Over a thousand years ago the Tang dynasty emperor Xuan Zong spent his winters at this hall with his favorite concubine Yang spent his winters at this hall with his favorite concubine Yang Gui Fei. Since the hot spring dissipated any snow or frost, it was named Swirling Frost Hall.
Close by his Huaqing Poll, the bathing pool of the beautiful Yang Gui Fei. It is housed in an inner room and built in the shape of lotus petals. In an outer room adjoining the pool is a soft bed and a painting of the imperial concubine emerging from her bath.
Yang Gui Fei, living in luxury and debauchery, was imperious and spoiled. She was fond of the fresh lichee fruit, ana as the choicest were grown in far-off Sichuan (Szechuan) Province, the emperor ordered his couriers to travel day and night without rest to procure the fruit and deliver it fresh to Huaqing. Couriers not infrequently died on the road from exhaustion
The excessiveness of life in Huaqing Palace provide sharp contrast to the miserable plight of the common folk that the celebrated Tang dynasty poet Tu Fu was prompted to write in the winter of 755：
Inside the vermilion gates Mine and meat go bad,
While bodies of the frozen dead lie along the open road.
Huaqing Pool is now a recreational center open to the people, with all old imperial halls and pavilions restored. More than sixty new bathing pools have been added to accommodate four thousand at a time.