Yonghe Temple – Beijing’s Famous Monastery

The Yonghe Temple is a monastery located in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Also known as the ‘Palace of Peace’ and the ‘Lama Temple’, the temple is dedicated to Geluk School branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It is one of the biggest Tibetan monasteries on the planet and is of great significance to followers. The temple’s architecture is quite distinct and combines the Tibetan and Han Chinese styles. Foreigners in Beijing interested in learning more about Buddhism and Chinese culture should consider visiting the Yonghe Temple.

Construction on the Buddhist temple started in 1694, when the Qing Dynasty was in control of China. Its original function was to serve as a residence for the court’s eunuchs. Eventually it was taken over by Prince Yong Yin Zhen, who used it as his court. When the prince finally achieved the throne (becoming the Yongzheng Emperor), the building was partly transformed into a lamasery (monastery). However, it was only after the emperor’s death that the place became a fully-fledged monastery.

The temple contains five halls, and each hall is separated from the other by a courtyard. ‘The Hall of the Heavenly Kings’ is found to the south of the temple. It was formerly the primary entrance into the lamasery. The hall contains statues of the Buddha as well as the heavenly kings. The main hall is called ‘the Hall of Harmony and Peace’. It contains three statues, made of bronze, depicting the Buddha. ‘The Hall of Everlasting Protection’ was where the emperor lived. It currently houses the emperor’s coffin.

‘The Hall of the Wheel of the Law’ is a place where one can read holy scriptures in peace, while the ‘Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happiness’ houses a Buddha statue that is nearly thirty metres in height. In addition to the halls one can find plenty of other interesting things to see inside the temple. It is definitely a ‘must visit’ when in Beijing.

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