The Lama Temple | Beijing, China
Popularly known as the Lama Temple, Yonghe Lamasery keeps an interesting story. It is the national temple & monastery of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. It also speaks of China’s greatness in history, art, religion & conquest.
After China re-conquered Tibet, it forced its highest spiritual & political leader, the Dalai Lama into exile. As many of its religious traditions are suppressed in its tiny homeland, in China a lavish lamasery is kept sparkling.
The Lama Temple is the center of Lama administration in China.
Built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, it was the court eunuchs’ residence. It later became imperial court of Prince Yong, the son of Kangxi Emperor. When he became the emperor, half of the complex was converted into a lamasery. It also became the residence of Buddhist monks from Mongolia & Tibet.
What thrilled me to visit the Lama Temple is the 26-meter white sandalwood statue of Maitreya Buddha. There are also other artworks like the bronze statues of Buddhas of Three Ages. As a monastery, it holds many important relics, artifacts & art pieces about Tibetan Buddhism & Chinese art.
The Lama Temple is laid out like any other imperial residences in China. Although smaller in size, it doesn’t lack the spectacle of a royal home. Its pavilions are laden with huge frescoes in a wide complex of landscaped gardens. What makes the buildings unique are the use of both Han Chinese & Tibetan designs in its construction style.
Located at the heart of Dongcheng District in Beijing, the Lama Temple stands right outside the Yonghegong subway station. It is surrounded by souvenir shops & hutongs that are converted into cafes, convenience stores or small restaurants.
The Lama Temple is an architectural testament of the interactions of China & Tibet. It describes how China has panned its conquest & how it gives importance to monastic studies of Buddhism.
How to Get to Lama Temple
- Take Line 2 or 5. Get off at Yonghegong Station. Exit C.
- Walk south, about 400 meters. No need to cross the street.
- Take Bus 13, 116, 117 or 684. Get off at Yonghegong Station.
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