Chengde sits in a river valley surrounded by mountains. Once called Jehol (warm river) by the Manchus, it came to be known as BishuShanzhuang (mountain hamlet for escaping the heat) which was much more fitting. The Kangxi emperor chose this place in 1703 as his retreat to escape the summer heat of the Forbidden City. The resort grew as it passed on to the Qianlong emperor, the grandson of the Kanxi emperor. The place fell into misfortune, however, during the reign of Jiaqing who died from a lightning bolt fire. Then the Xianfeng emperor died in suspicious circumstances and the resort was never fully able to shake its bad reputation. The area is still beautiful to visit as well as its many palaces.
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