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Beijing Travel – Lama Temple
The Lama Temple is a Buddhist Temple of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism in the Beijing area. The Lama Temple is the largest lama temple in China and one of the largest and most important Buddhist temples in the world.
Walking around the Lama Temple area you will see amazing examples of ancient architecture and ancient and fascinating religious practices. Although it was not in the same class as the more famous places like the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, the Lama Temple is a good place to visit and I really enjoyed walking around the temple grounds and experiencing the Buddhist practices there.
The original buildings of the temple were built in 1694 as a residence for Prince Yong of the Qing Dynasty. After ascending to the throne in 1722, Emperor Yong changed his residence to a temporary palace called Yonghegong which means palace of harmony and peace. Yong Emperor’s successor Emperor Qianlong made the palace into a lama temple in 1744.
A large number of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tibet and Mongolia lived in the temple which became the center of lama rule in China. The temple was closed during the cultural revolution but was not destroyed. It seems that Prime Minister Zhou Enlai who was responsible for saving many Chinese religious places from being destroyed by the Red Guard at that time also saved the Lama Temple. The temple was later reopened to the public in 1981.
Location and Architecture
The temple was built in a central north-south direction and consists of 32 main halls and buildings located in four main areas. The buildings and buildings of the temple have Buddha statues, Tang-ga (polished carvings) and valuable cultural items on display. The three most famous relics are the Buddha Niche, the 500 Arhat Mount and the 18-meter tall Buddha.
There are many buildings and halls that run through them all so I have described below the main buildings and what you can see when you visit the temple. The four main areas of the temple are listed according to their location on the north-south side of the temple.
The first area includes Yonghe Gate Hall, West Pavilion and East Pavilion
Yonghe Gate Hall – This hall was once the main entrance to the temple and houses a seated Buddha statue known as Big belly Maitreya. The building also has four statues of the kings of heaven, two on the left and two on the right so it is also called the House of the Kings of Heaven.
East & West Pavilions – Both were built in 1744 and have white marble inscriptions in Mongolian and Tibetan to explain why Yonghegong was made of marble.
The second site includes the Four Language Stele Pavilion, Yonghegong Hall and an ancient bronze cooking vessel.
Cooker Cooker – When you pass through the Yonghe Gate Hall to the second area, the first building you will see is a 1747 Qing Dynasty black bronze vessel mounted on a white marble slab that is decorated with dragons and lions and has six doors on top. part. Apparently this cooking vessel can bring good luck and there is a steady stream of Chinese tourists trying to throw coins and notes through the cracks of the vessel and the 6 doors that are covered with wire.
The Four Languages Stele – This is a small stone building containing the words of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty explaining the origin and meaning of Buddhist malas in four languages.
Yonghegong Hall – This is supposed to be the main hall of the Lama Temple but I personally think that the Falun Hall deserves this name. The temple has three bronze statues which are the three sides of the Buddha, Kasyapa-matanga on the right, Sakyamuni in the middle and Maitreya on the left. To the left and right of each hall are 9 statues of Buddha’s disciples called Arhats.
The Third Great District has only one main building, Falun Hall
Falun Hall – The main focus of this building is the huge statue of Tsong Kha Pa who founded the Buddhist lama faith. This hall is used for reading texts and has rows and rows of reading desks and electric lamps.
The Fourth Main Area consists of one main building, the Wangfuge Pavilion which is connected by bridges to two smaller buildings on either side of it.
Wanfuge Pavilion – This building is very beautiful and I like most of all the buildings in Lama Temple. The building has three floors and is basically a hollow shell with a core or atrium built around the 26th Maitreya Buddha statue. 8 meters of the statue sank to the ground and 18 meters above the ground. The building itself was built around the image and the basements of the second and third floors inside the building surround the image. Apart from the statue and the large prayer area in front of the statue, the building is empty. It is easy to imagine all the mirrors and prayer halls filled with monks in prayer and chanting sutras to Maitreya.
The statue was carved from a single pair of white shoes that were given to Emperor Qianlong by the Seventh Dalai Lama in gratitude for the emperor’s services to Tibet. It took three years to transport the wood from the Yangtze River to the Grand Canal to Beijing and another three years for the carving and installation. The Lama Temple was converted into a lamasery in 1744 but the Wanfuge Pavilion was not completed until 1750 when the carving of the image was completed.
Just walking around the grounds and looking up at the statue as it rises above you and seeing the buildings that surround the statue is an awe-inspiring experience. Seeing the Wanfuge Pavilion alone makes a trip to the Lama Temple an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
Yansui and Yongkang Pavilions – These are small courtyards to the left and right of the Wanfuge Pavilion and are connected to the Wanfuge Pavilion by bridges on the second floor. The architecture of all your pavilions and connecting bridges is excellent.
Take the subway to Yonghegong which is located at the intersection of subway lines 5 and 2. Leave the station using exit C, turn left and the entrance to the temple will be a few hundred meters south of the road.
Both sides of the road are full of shops selling Buddhist products such as incense for visitors to the temple to know as you approach the temple entrance.
Tickets & Times
Tickets are 25rmb and the temple is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Try to stay at the temple by12 as soon as possible and leave two hours to enjoy wandering around the temple grounds and admiring the buildings. The tourist buses start to get crowded around 2:30pm so that’s when you’re out of the temple.
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