Lama Buddhist Temple, Beijing - A Peek Behind the Walls
There are thousands of Buddhist Temples in China. The Lama Temple in Beijing may be one of the more special ones. The Chinese name for this temple is the Yonghegong (Palace of Peace and Harmony) Temple. It was started in 1694 during the Qing dynasty as an imperial palace that was converted to a Buddhist temple soon afterwards. The yellow tiles, reserved for the emperor, remain as a reminder of the original palace.
The temple grounds are 480 metres long running south to north. The temple is marked by the gate in the photo below and you enter the temple through another gate on the south side.
Once inside, you begin to realize why it is known as the Palace of Peace and Harmony. The tree lined walk to the temple buildings does provide time for respite and reflection.
At the end of walkway there are 5 main halls of worship with each separated by a courtyard. Within each courtyard, there are sculptures that serve to remind you that you can nowhere other than China along with functional religious items like bells, prayer wheels, guardian statues and incense burners.
The buildings and courtyards are impressive indeed. They were all constructed in the classic Imperial style which involved lots of architectural detail with red and gold paint. The crowning glory is a 26m (85 ft) tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha carved from a single piece of White Sandalwood. A plaque, placed by the Guinness Book of World Records authenticates the statue claims as a single piece of wood.
Taking photos inside of the buildings is prohibited due to respect for the worshipers. Photos of some of the building's exteriors can be found below. The building in the last photo contains the Maitreya Buddha.