The “Palace of Peace and Harmony Lama Temple” Beijing
In Beijing there are many Temples. Buddhist Temples in Beijing are centuries old. Some were built for ordinary people, others were for members of the imperial court. The most important Buddhist Temple in Beijing is known by various names such as the “Lama Temple”,the “Palace of Peace and Harmony Lama Temple”, “Yonghe Lamasery” and “Yonghegong”. It has been the site of Buddhist practices since 1722, after the ascension of Prince Yong to throne as the Yongzheng Emperor.
The building of the temple commenced in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty and served as an official residence for court eunuchs. Later, converted into the court of Prince Yong. After Prince Yong’s ascension to the throne, half of the building converted into a lamasery for monks of Tibetan Buddhism. The other half of the building remained an Imperial Palace.
On the death of Yongzheng Emperor in 1735, the monks placed his coffin in the Temple. Yongzheng’s successor, the Qianlong Emperor, gave the temple imperial status, signified by having its turquoise colored roof tiles replaced with yellow tiles on all the Temples. Buddhist monks from Tibet and Mongolia were able to live here, and so the Yonghe Lamasery became the national center of Lama Administration.
Han Chinese and Tibetan style architecture
My first impression of the Lama Temple in Beijing is of the beautiful colors and carvings in blues and gold on the Ceremonial Gates. The Temple for Buddhists is a more intimate temple, unlike the vast expanses of the Temple of Heaven. Once inside the gates there is the soft fragrance of burning incense, crimson robed monks, stone sculptures, a beautiful Bell Tower and a Drum Tower, five very dignified temples, each separated by a courtyard and enhanced by the many ancient cypress pines. The architecture is very beautiful, exemplified by the rich colors of red and gold. The artworks and architecture a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.
The five main halls in the complex separated by courtyards are: The Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Hall of Harmony and Peace, the Hall of Everlasting Protection, the Hall of the Wheel of the Law, and the Pavilion of ten thousand Happiness’s (Wanfuge).
The main palace of Yonghe Lamasary is the Hall of Harmony and Peace. Three bronze statues of Buddhas of the Three Ages,are displayed here. These, flanked by the statue of Kasyapa Natanga (Buddha of the Past, right), the statue of the Gautama Buddha (Buddha of the Present, centre) and the Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future, on the left).There are also 18 Arhats which are statues of Buddha disciples, situated on both sides of the Hall.
The Hall of Everlasting Protection was the living quarters of Emperor Yongzheng as a prince, his coffin placed in this hall after his death. The coffin was later moved to the Western Qing Tombs. Emperor Qianlong, his son, gave the building its present name to show his eternal blessing.He came here often to offer sacrifices to his dead father. A statue of the Bhaisajya-guru (healing Buddha), now stands in this hall.
The Hall of the Wheel of the Law is the place for Lamas reading scriptures and holding Buddhist ceremonies.
Be awed by the large gilded Buddhist statue of the Maitreya, 26 meters tall in the Lama Temple.
The most magnificent building in the Lama Temple in Beijing, is a three-story building known as the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happiness’s.It is the highest palace in the complex. Inside stands a large Buddha statue of the Maitreya. The statue is 26 meters tall and is carved from a single piece of White Sandalwood. (no photo’s allowed) It is included in the Guinness Book of Records in 1993, together with two other artworks from the temple.
In China it is believed that the Lama Temple in Beijing, survived the Cultural Revolution due to intervention of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. The Lamasery reopened to the public in 1981.
This temple for Buddhists has a wonderful serene atmosphere, and I was so pleased we had been able to see it on our small group tour. As we departed from the Lama Temple, Buddhist monks gave us a tiny disc. I was thrilled to bits when I got home to find it actually worked in my computer, it was so tiny! It gives the history of the Lamasery, and is a lovely souvenir to have from this harmonious Buddhist Temple.
Our Small Group Tour we visited this ancient Buddhist Lama Temple as part of our Beijing sightseeing tour. It is well worth a visit, so when planning a Beijing holiday check if it is on your itinerary.
Photo’s: All Buddhist Temple Pic’s