On my last evening in China, I went to visit the Yonghe temple, more formally known as the Lama Temple. It is located in Beijing’s Dongcheng District and by far one of the loveliest temples I have been to!
Lama Temple is the largest and best-preserved Lamestries in Beijing. It was originally an imperial palace but was later converted into a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. It was built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) as the residence of the Emperor Yongzheng (the third emperor of the Qing Dynasty) before he ascended the throne. The entrance to the temple was beautifully painted and after just having been to the Forbidden City which was super crowded, it was refreshing to be here. Very peaceful and relaxing, there were few tourists here. We paid 25 Yuan (£2.5) to get in, well worth the price!
Every element of the Lama temple is entirely symmetrical, with main halls on a north-south axis and wing halls on both sides. It comprises of a courtyard in the south and five main halls in separate courtyards in the north: the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, the Hall of Harmony and Peace, the Hall of Everlasting Blessings, the Hall of the Dharma Wheel and the Pavilion of Infinite Happiness.
The Lama temple combines various architectural styles of the Han, the Manchu, the Mongolian and the Tibetan. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside, but each hall had different treasures and different Buddha statues.
Two of the Halls were particularly amazing. The Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong) is the main palace and inside three bronze Buddhas are displayed – Sakyamuni in the middle, Kasyapa-matanga on the right and Maitreya on the left. There are 18 Arhats (statues of Buddha disciples) positioned on both sides of the Hall.
The other one, the Pavilion of Infinite Happiness was equally impressive – It is a three-storey building, and in the main hall, a huge statue of Maitreya is positioned which the seventh Dalai presented to the Emperor Qianlong. The entire statue which is carved from a rare sandal tree is 26 meters (85 feet) in height and eight meters (26 feet) in diameter, with eight meters (26 feet) buried under the ground. It was a sight to see!
I really enjoyed my time visiting all the halls, especially since the history was written in Chinese and in English so I was able to read about it while viewing at the same time. To learn more about this history, visit here. Really fascinating stuff!
I am glad Lama Temple was the last place I got to see before leaving China. It left a lasting memorable impression in my mind. From the beginning of my trip in Qingdao with its European architecture, to hiking the Great Wall of China, to visiting the lively and colourful Hutongs, I got to finish my short whirlwind time here with a visit to this lovely Buddhist Temple – that made me very happy 🙂
This post is linked to #TheWeeklyPostcard hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond