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Travel Report: Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

Xiaoling Tomb of The Ming Dynasty Zhongshan National Park Nanjing China

October 2018. A number of Nanjing’s most historical sites can be found within the grounds of Zhongshan National Park. Having already conquered the amazing three hundred and ninety two step Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum, Jaylin and I set off on a thirty minute walk through the forest to check out another famous tomb. Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is a particularly prestigious Nanjing site as it contains the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang, China’s first Ming Emperor. Furthermore, this is the only such emperor to have been laid to rest outside Beijing.

Xiaoling Tomb of The Ming Dynasty Zhongshan National Park Nanjing China

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

Buoyed by how manageable the crowds had been at Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum, we pressed on with the flowing masses towards Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum. However, on arrival it was immediately clear to us that this was going to be an altogether different experience! The crowds here were dense, at least twice the number of bodies. And everyone was boxed into the narrow 618 meter Spirit Path that leads to the mausoleum’s main halls.

Sacrificial Hall Xiaoling Tomb of The Ming Dynasty Zhongshan National Park Nanjing China

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

The Sacrificial Hall is one of the tomb’s main buildings. It contains Zhu Yuanzhang’s memorial tablets, along with tributes to his empress and concubines. It’s a small building and, in all honesty, an absolute nightmare to appreciate that day. Kids climbed all over the statues, families shouted at each other nonstop and people bumped into us from all sides. It was virtually impossible to stop for a moment to take anything in.

Ming Lou Soul Tower Xiaoling Tomb of The Ming Dynasty Zhongshan National Park Nanjing China

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

I’m sure the the mausoleum’s gardens, pagodas and courtyards are beautiful. I just wasn’t able to appreciate them as we fought through the crowds. In fact, we found the place so disgustingly busy we found ourselves bypassing most of the complex in order to reach Soul Tower (Ming Lou). This is the compound’s focal point, housed in the large China Square. Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang rests beneath the building in a closed off vault.

Golden Week queues Ming Tomb Nanjing China

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

The queue to get into the tower was horrific. Moreover, the damn thing wasn’t even moving. As we stood watching, the line actually continued to grow at a rate of about 5-10 people every ten seconds. It was at this point that it suddenly hit me how bloody exhausted I was. “Uh… do you really have to go inside?” Jaylin asked. I could only conclude that no, I did not.

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

We both knew only too well that exiting the complex would be another almighty battle. As a result, we simply dropped to the ground and rested for a while up against a wall. It was the perfect vantage point from which to witness the madness of Golden Week. The eye of the storm so to speak. The noise… the jostling… the littering… the spitting… this experience had not been fun.

Golden week crowds at Xiaoling Tomb Nanjing China.

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Nanjing.

October 2018. In the end it took Jaylin and I just under two hours to exit the tomb, get out of the park, onto the subway and back to our hotel. Mentally and physically drained, we both melted into a blissful three hour sleep. It was a slumber so perfectly deep and dark that I could have very well been an entombed emperor myself!

Like this? Check out my many other pieces from around Nanjing.

Want to delve further afield? Why not tap into my stacks of articles from across China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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