Lama Temple - Yonghegong, Beijing
The Lama Temple is a magnificent Tibetan Buddhist complex built around 1700.
Now that religion is allowed in China, the Lama Temple is very active, with many faithfuls burning armloads of incense.
The superb architecture and the spiritual atmosphere combine into an unforgettable visit for foreigners.
When I visited, in January 2005, closing time was 4:30pm (my guidebook said 4:00). And it was quite haunting, with the priests closing the incense burners and the shutters.
Before or after the visit, remember there are many intriguing Hutong nearby.
The Lama Temple is also known as Yong He Gong. It's a beautiful attraction located in the Dongcheng District. The temple dates back to the Qing Dynasty. The interior of the buildings is decorated with various Tibetan Buddhist statues and Thangkas. There are many worshipers present. It was interesting to see how different the people worshiping in the Lama Temple are from Tibetans and how they pay respect at temples in Tibet. There is no one prostrating at the Lama Temple. All worshipers kneel in front of a hall containing Buddhist statues while they hold several sticks of incense then offer the incense to an urn.
There are 5 main halls within the grounds of the Lama Temple. They are Hall of Heavenly Kings, Hall of Harmony and Peace, Hall of Everlasting Protection, Hall of the Wheel of the Law and Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happiness's.
For me, just coming from Tibet, the Lama Temple was a bit of a disappointment. If you did not visit Tibet, the Lama Temple is great. The statues and art work within the buildings are amazing and exactly what can be seen in Tibet. However, the architecture of buildings is all Chinese and really nothing like that at any monastery in Tibet.
The hours the Temple is open:
Monday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Tuesday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Wednesday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Thursday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Friday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
The entrance fee is 25rmb. With the ticket you get a small CD.
This was the only major site that we visited without our tour group, and I'm very glad that we did, not just for the opportunity to venture on our own, but also because the Temple is amazing.
The Lama Temple is home to the Yellow Sect of Buddhism, which is the same sect as the Dalai Lama. It is an active lamasary, which means that monks of the sect live and work in the temple. The temple is also home to an amazing relic: the largest Buddha statue carved from a single tree. The statue is huge: 3 stories up and about 9 feet across. He is carved from a single tree (cypruss, I think) that had to be imported from outside the capital. What a job!
While we were visiting, China was just about to have its Autumn Festival. There were many worshippers at the temple making offerings of incense and praying. The atmosphere during our visit was calm and quiet, very unlike some of our other hurried visits to famous sites! We wandered and got a good look at the architecture and the artwork... all fabulous!
The temple is small, relatively speaking, to many of the other sites you can visit in Beijing, but I would definitely recommend it as a side trip.
This temple is the most renowned Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is a vast area and has numerous halls with each having magnificent Buddhas, huge incense burners, prayer wheels, tapestries and a museum devoted to Tibertan metal statuery. The most impessive is the Wanfuge which contains the 18 metre, 9 metres across at the base, highly polished wooden (sandalwood)Buddha supposedly the largest wooden Buddha.
Unfortunately, you cannot take photos inside and therefore capture the full magnitude of the statue.
The ticket costs 25 Yuan and is actually a VCD of the temple which does work! (see photo) Don’t throw it out!
I like this temple, if you take subway , you can get off right at this station!
It's a peace and quiet place , many buddists not only local but those from other part of China come here to pray for all reason, heathy/wealthy/safe/peace....ect...
People believe that all pray can become true after you light incents and pray here...
The Yonghegong is one of Beijing's more curious temples, having started life as a residence for a crown prince of the emperor. Just thirty years later, in 1723, after the death of the prince, much of the palace was turned over to the monks.
The temple compund has a succession of compounds, with seemingly endless halls of Buddhas, each one popular with the praying masses - and indeed it was the masses, as this must be one of the most popular of Beijing's temples.
The temple is absolutely beautiful, but it is heavily commercialised. Meditation, let alone enlightenment, will be tricky with the constant noise and paraphernalia.
Every hall has signs, obtrusive as always and often crass (like the Guiness Book Of Records plaque adorning the rearmost Wanfuge Hall.) Ironically, there are a number of large "Protect Cultural Heritage" signs inappropriately sited.
So...Temple or Theme Park? You decide. Like many of the big Chinese Buddhist temples, such as Baimasi in Luoyang, it lacks warmth and 'feeling'. It is expensive at RMB25 per head, and the non-Buddhist doesn't feel educated or informed, despite the little exhibition hall in the last courtyard.
I like the Yonghegong, but don't know why!
I recommend that you visit the beautiful and tranquil Kongmiao (Confucian Temple) and Guozijian (Imperial College) at the same time: they are in a side street opposite.
After our visit to the Great Wall with Alvin, the Lama Temple was next on our itinery. It was our first real Temple visit and I found it beautiful, serene and intriguing - all at the one time. We spent about an hour here, being constantly told about the history by our ever-knowledgeable guide Alvin!
Entrance to the Lama Temple was only 25rmb = about $4AUD. For this entrance fee you also get a disc, but I havent tried it to see if it actually works. Dont ask me where it is located, I dont have a clue! It is really only places that we had to get to by ourselves that I can give you directions to. Opening hours are - from April to October - 9am-4.30pm and from November to March - 9am-4pm. Chinese call these seasons "busy season" and "slack season"!! Honestly, everywhere we went on the entrance signs that is what it said "busy season" and "slack season" we thought that was so funny. In fact, we took photos of many many funny Chinese signs, somehow the translation fails and the signs when translated into english dont exactly mean what they are meant to. I will have to do a whole section on funny signs thats for sure.
Call it racism if you like, but the sign outside the temple selling audio guides was funny! It was 10rmb for Chinese and 20rmb for other languages, including English. I dont really call it racism, thats just the way it is!!!
Located just north east of the Forbidden City is this historically important imperial temple.
There is an incredible tall Buddhist diety carved from a single large tree that took several years to be moved to Beijing from the southwest China and several more years to carve.
There are several buildings and photography is not allowed inside. There are guides ready to share more information but only a few can speak English.
Best place to get away from the pushy salesmen in the street. This large temple - actually its temples - was once the residence of a count. He moved to the Forbidden City when he became emperor, and the palace was taken over by monks. When a rebellion in Tibet was quelled he issued that a vase was kept in the temple. The vase was used in choosing the Panchen Lama.
The temples all have Buddhas in them but the last one is by far the largest. It is supposedly cut out of a single piece of wood, but seeing the size of it I wonder if there have ever been a tree that wide. Every statue has some meaning and is the Buddha for something. I couldn't figure out half of them, but then again I am a complete novice on Buddhist symbols.
Photography inside the temple buildings are not allowed.
Our second day in Beijing started wet, rain, rain, yes right . . . . Umbrella weather.
But no time to loose, this I had planned a visit at the Lama temple at the other side of the city, then a visit at the Confucius temple which is nearby. And after lunch I had planned a visit at the Drum tower and the Bell tower.
We finished our second day with an acrobatic show.
Before I visited the Lama temple (Yonghegong), I thought that this temple would be one big building surrounded by a few smaller ones.
But since my visit I know better, as this Lama temple is much more then just one building. Oh, no it is building after building after building . . .
Yes indeed this also a big site to visit. Not something you visit in 15 minutes.
There are a lot of great temples with fine architecture and colourful sculptures.
So on the second day in Beijing I decided to visit the Lama temple.
This Lama temple is very easy accessible with the Beijing Metro system (Yonghegong subway station).
The entry to this temple is just around the corner.
After the ticket control you arrive at a first courtyard, where you can see a big bell and some beautiful pavilions.
Lama Temple is one of the famous Tibetan Buddhist temples. There are 3 archways and 5 main halls. You can visit the whole temple within 2 hours. Lama Temple is open between 9 am and 4 pm. The admission fee is 25 Yuan.
For many visitors the first meeting with lama buddhism. The Lama temple is a colorful temple with many visitors, tourists and worshippers.
The Yonghe Lamasery is the largest lamasery in China today. Built in 1694 as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng when he was just a prince. In 1723 he became emperor and in 1744 the status of the building was changed to that of a lamasery, the Yonghe Lamasery became the national centre of Lama administration.
The Tibetan Lamasery is also called Yonghe Gong and was built in 1694 A.D... It was originally the residence of a Qing dynasty prince and the Tibetan monks did not move in until 1744... The Lamasery is home to the largest wooden sculpture on earth, an 18 meter tall Buddha carved from a single sandalwood tree...