Beijing Day 11: Lama Temple


After lunch we proceed to visit the Lama Temple or Yonghe Lamasery. If you take the subway, there is a station named after the Yonghe Palace i.e. Yonghegong Station.

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The Lama Temple was built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, as the residence of Prince Yongzheng. In 1944, the Qing Dynasty formally changed it’s status to a lamasery and it became the national centre of Lama administration. This is the largest and most well preserved lamasery in present day in China.

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The entrance fee is RMB25 (about CAD4) per person. A huge bell welcome visitors to the temple. The Lama Temple is built on the north south axis since it’s was a palace in origin.

Yonghe Lamasery Map

The above is a layout of the palace; courtesy of travelchinaguide.com.

The transformation of the Yonghe Palace to Lama Temple include:

  • Yonghe Gate (used to be the main entrance to the palace)  to Devaraja Hall (Hall of the Heavenly Kings) which houses the statues of the four Heavenly Kings
  • Yonghe Gong (used to be the main palace) to Hall of Harmony and Peace which displays three Buddhas; Sakyamuni (middle), Kasyapa-matanga (right) and Maitreya (left) and 18 Arhats (statues of Buddha disciples  on both sides of the hall
  • Yongyoudian (used to be prince Yongzheng’s living room and where his coffin was placed after his death) to Hall of Everlasting Protection houses a statue of Bhaisajya-guru
The rest of the buildings include:
  • Falundian (Hall of the Wheel of the Law) where Lamas read scriptures and hold Buddhist ceremonies and  houses a large status of Tsong Kha-pa, an ancestor of Lamaism. This is used to the the living area for the Emperor’s wives
  • Wanfuge (Pavillion of Ten Thousand Happinesses) where tens of thoussands of Buddhas are displayed along with an enormous status of Maitreya stood on a white marble base

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Like all the palaces, halls were guarded by stone lions, symbols of Imperial family. 

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Visitors may pay tribute to the temple by burning incenses which can be bought in the temple.

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Another item common in palaces, some sort of incense burner.

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A persimmon tree in the yard.

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A Tibetan prayer wheel.

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The Drum tower in the second yard.

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The yellow color tiles and dragon motif are another signs of the past Imperial status of the Lama Temple.

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