Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lama Temple Yonghe Gong

雍和宮

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.)

Lama Temple

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.

Lama Temple

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.

Lama Temple, Beijing

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.

Lama Temple, Beijing

Yonghe Gong
12 Yonghegong Dajie, Beixinqiao, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 6404 4499
Admission 25 yuan
Nearest subway station Yonghegong on the Circle Line

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