The Lama Temple is located at the northeast corner of Beijing City. It was originally used as official residence for court eunuchs of the Ming dynasty and was converted to the royal court of Prince Yongzheng during the 33rd year (1693) of Kangxi's reign of the Qing dynasty. In the 3rd year of Yongzheng's rein (1725), it was elevated to imperial palace for short stays away from the capital with the name changed to Yonghe Palace of Peace and Harmony. During the 9th year of Emperor Qian Long's reign (1477), it was change into Lama Temple.
The dimensions of the temple are magnificent, which have five courtyards in a row. The front structural layout in the temple is bright and spacious dotted with screen walls with carved murals, lifeless things and decorated archways. The interior pavement leading to the main halls and the evergreen pine and cypress appear to be rather peaceful and secluded in the environment. The back structural layout is composed of a cluster of building, halls and pavilions intermingled with each other, and upturned eaves and ridges beautifully interwoven presenting a picturesque sight.
Palace of the Heavenly King, Yonghe Palace, Eternal Blessing Hall, the Hall of the Wheel of the Law and Hall of boundless Happiness are the main structures. The Hall of the Wheel of the Law is extremely imposing; the overall arrangement of its plane diagram forms a cross sign and there are five petty garrets on the ceiling decorated with small lama pagodas, which are characterized by the style of lamaism. The Hall of Boundless Happiness is the biggest building in the Lama Temple of Peace and Harmony flanked by the Hall of Everlasting Health and the Hall of Peace. They are connected by a corridor of the Suspension Hall, which form a cluster of majestic dignified buildings. In the Hall of the Boundless Happiness, stands a famous huge statue of Buddha, 26 meters high carved out of a whole piece of sandalwood; it is the biggest wood-carving Buddha in the world.
Lama Temple Yonghe Gong
The Lama Temple (Yonghe Gong) is one of Beijing's most colorful and lively temples.
(The images are taken on a wet and gloomy day that don't do full justice to the brightly colored, wooden buildings.)
The Lama Temple resembles a Matryoshka doll as one temple and courtyard opens in to the next along a 480m north-south axis, though each successive temple hall is actually larger than the preceding one.
Previously the residence of Count Yin Zhen, who became Emperor Yongzheng in 1723, his residence became known as Yonghe Palace. In 1744 after Yongzheng's death in 1735, the buildings became a lamasery staffed by monks from Tibet and Mongolia. The temple contains a golden vase which is used in the lottery to choose the Panchen Lama.
The halls in the temple complex are in order the Hall of the Heavenly Kings (Lokapala), the Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonge Hall), the Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyou Hall), The Hall of the Wheel of Law (Falun Hall), and the the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses (Wanfu Pavilion).
The Hall of the Heavenly Kings
houses a statue of the Maitreya Buddha flanked by the four Heavenly Kings, who act as guardians of the four directions.
The Hall of Harmony and Peace
contains bronze statues of the Gautama Buddha (the historical Buddha) in the center, with Kasyapa Matanga (Buddha of the Past) to his right and Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future) on the left. The 18 Arhats (enlightened ones) flank the walls of the hall and the mural is the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
The Hall of Everlasting Protection
contains a statue of the Buddha of Medicine and was the main residence of Count Yin Zhen.
The Hall of the Wheel of the Law
, which is used for prayer and study of the Buddhist sutras, houses a statue of Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), founder of the Geluk School (or Yellow Hat sect).
The Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses
contains an amazing 18m tall sandalwood statue of the Maitreya Buddha carved from a single block.
There is a gallery of Tibetan statues to the side including a collection of Tibetan Tantric statues with ferocious-looking gods and goddesses in sexual union.
Photography is prohibited inside the halls.
12 Yonghegong Dajie, Beixinqiao, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 6404 4499
Admission 25 yuan