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Temple Treats
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It is estimated that there were more than 700 temples in Beijing prior to 1949, both inside the city, and in the suburbs. The exact number of temples in the capital now is unknown, but dozens of good examples remain.


Many of the temples were damaged in the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) or taken over by residents. But with the government's restoration efforts, some remain intact and are becoming increasingly popular with worshipers and tourists. Here we list a selection of the capital's best temples.



Yonghegong Lama Temple


A famous tourist destination, and also the biggest Tibetan Buddist temple of the Yellow School in Beijing. Built in the Qing Dynasty, it was the former residence of Emperor Yongzheng before he took the throne. The temple combines the architectural styles of Han, Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan peoples. Rosewood Arhat sculptures, white sandlewood Buddha statues and Buddha niche carved with silkwood are three must-see things at the temple.



Andingmen Dongdajie, Dongcheng District. 6404-9027. Bus routes: 13, 62, 44, 406 at Yonghegong station; or take the subway to arrive at Yonghegong.


Miaoying Temple


This Buddhist temple, also called Temple of the White Pagoda was first built in the Yuan Dynasty, but was later burned down and rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty. The current temple was largely built in the Qing Dynasty. Only the white pagoda was left over from Yuan Dynasty, a structure that is more than 700 years old. The pagoda is an important symbol of Yuandadu, the first capital set up in the Yuan Dynasty in 1279 by Kubla Khan. It is also the biggest Tibetan Buddhist pagoda in China.


North of Fuchengmennei Dajie. 6616-0211. Bus routes: 13, 101, 102, 103, 823, 812, 814, at Baitasi station.


Guangji Temple


Built in the Jin Dynasty, this temple is more than 800 years old. The architecture inside is preserved from the Ming Dynasty, when it was rebuilt and given the present name. The bronze statues of Buddha are extremely precious. There are also stone tablets engraved with a poem by Qianlong, a Qing Dynasty emperor. The temple is where China Buddhist Association is located, and is the center of the country's Buddhist activities.


Northwest corner, Xisi Crossroad, Xicheng District. 6616-0907. Bus routes, 13, 101, 102, 105, 823, 812, 814, at Xisi station.


Fayuan Temple


Established 1,300 years ago, this temple is the oldest and biggest temple in Beijing. It is where the China Buddhist Institute and China Buddhist Literature and Cultural Relics Museum are located. The Buddhist scripture library at the ancient temple provides a display of stone sculptures from Eastern Han, Wu of Three Kingdoms, Northern Wei, Northen Dynasty, Sui and Tang dynasties. A wooden sculpture of Buddha that measures 10 meters is the biggest lying Buddha in Beijing. The temple is known for its thousands of cloves.


7 Fayuansi Qianjie, Xuanwu District. 6353-3966.


White Cloud Taoist Temple


The biggest Taoist temple in Beijing, it was built to mark Qiu Chuji, one of seven disciples of Wang Chongyang, the founder of a northern school, Quanzhen School, of Taoism. Qiu's remains are still buried below the seat of a hall marking him in the temple. The temple is home to the largest collection of Taoist literature and books. The China Taoist Association is also located here.


Baiyun Lu, Xicheng District. 6346-3531. Bus routes: 19, 414, at Baiyunguan station, or 114, 308, 937 at Baiyunguan station and walk south.


Dazhong Temple (or Juesheng Temple)



Named after a big bronze bell in the temple, it is now also known as the Chinese Ancient Bell Museum. There are presently 439 items/sets of ancient bells in the museum, the oldest of which is more than 500 years old. Other bells were made in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.


North side of the North Third Ring Road. 6255-0819. Bus routes: 302, 367, 718, at Dazhongsi station.


Dongyue Temple


With more than 600 years of history, this Taoist temple is the biggest of its kind for the Zhengyi School of Taoism. It is known for its stone tablets engraved with scriptures. There are more than 3,000 statues of gods. The architectural art and scale is among the best in China.


North of Chaoyangmenwai Dajie. 6551-0151. Bus routes: 110, 112, 109, at Shenlu Jie station; or take subway, get to Chaoyangmen station and walk east.


Confucius Temple


Where emperors paid homage to Confucius and where the best Chinese scholars studied.


Guozijian Jie. 8401-1977. Bus routes: 13, 406, 807, at Guozijian station, or take the subway, get off at Yonghegong station and walk south.


Jietai Temple


This temple is named after jietai, the altar where monks are initiated into monkhood. It is known for having the most complete and well-preserved group of stone Buddha carvings.


Shimenying, Mentougou District, west Beijing. 6980-2645. ,


Hongluosi Temple


Named after the legend of the red snail fairy. This temple was once home to many distinguished monks. The mountain on which it sits also has some fantastic views.


Huairou County. 6068-1639. It's some 55 km nortwest to Beijing downtown. Taking bus 936 (Extension) at Dong Zhimen bus station can reach the temple directely.


Yunju Temple


This temple is famous for its collection of caves with stone scriptures, Buddhist relics, and beautiful mountain views.


At the foot of Baidaishan, Fangshan District, southwest of Beijing. 6138-1612. Bus routes: take bus 917 at Tianqiao to get to Yunjusi or Shidu.


(China Daily March 13, 2007)


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