Lama Temple - Yonghegong, Beijing
Lama Temple, short for Palace of Peace and Harmony Lama Temple, is better known as Yonghe Temple. I was intrigued to visit this 315-year old significant temple which is said to be one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world.
Building constructions started in 1694 but it was only in 1744 that it got converted into a lamasery, a monastery for monks of Tibetan Buddhism. It is said that about 70 Lamas are residing in there at present time. The original name of the place in 1694 was Baylor Mansion, then it was changed to Price Yong Mansion then Yonghe Temple which referred to it as being secret center to Emperor Yongzheng. It was in this temple where emperors have worshipped their ancestors, after the time of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty, that is.
I had difficulty looking for its main gate. Be sure to inquire about the right exit before going there. It was on my last day and I was in a rush so I did not manage to take note of correct exit. I read that “On exiting the subway, walk south alongside the temple for about 500m until you reach the entrance of YongHeGong on the lefthand side.” I hope other travelers will figure this one out better than I did. 500 meters looks a long, long way when it is very hot.
I recommend that you visit:
Subway lines 2 and 5 will bring you to the Lama Temple. Station is Yonghegong Lama Temple.
This really was incredible. I've been dying to get out to Tibet, so this was the next best thing. Its also interesting because of the fact that it is in Beijing, the heart of the Chinese Communism. It shows that the people were not quite ready to give up their connection to the past or to religion throughout the Cultural Revolution and the past 50+ years.
The monks do live there by the way