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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
Like all the palaces, halls were guarded by stone lions, symbols of Imperial family.
Visitors may pay tribute to the temple by burning incenses which can be bought in the temple.
Another item common in palaces, some sort of incense burner.
A persimmon tree in the yard.
A Tibetan prayer wheel.
The Drum tower in the second yard.
The yellow color tiles and dragon motif are another signs of the past Imperial status of the Lama Temple.