The Yonghe Lamasery Temple, or Lama Temple as it is popularly known is considered to be the biggest and most comprehensively preserved lama monastery in the Chinese capital Beijing. Its history stretches back to 1694 in the Qing Dynasty era when it was constructed as a residential mansion for the future emperor Yongzheng. In 1744 the complex was comprehensively transformed into a lamasery. Since the compound was originally constructed as a royal residence it displays distinctive design elements not usually seen in a temple. In fact the compound which extends over an expanse of 66,400 sqm resembles a small palace with its red walls and glazed yellow tiles.
The age-old design principles followed in the construction of the compound means that every aspect of the buildings is perfectly symmetrical with a large courtyard towards the southern area and five major halls in their own courtyards towards the north. It can be seen that this resplendent temple displays a combination of Manchu, Han, Mongolian and Tibetan architectural motifs.
In the southern courtyard visitors will see three lofty traditionally constructed buildings and a large screen as they enter the compound. You will also see a bell tower and drum tower seemingly guarding the entranceway.
The Hall of Harmony and Peace takes centre stage at the temple with its impressive Buddha statues being the focus of attention. These consist of figures of Kasyapa Matanga, Sakyamuni and Maitreya, the Buddhas of the past, present and future respectively.
Another attraction is the Hall of Everlasting Blessings, which was once the living quarters of the emperor Yongzhen before he ascended to the throne. Here you will find figures of the Medicine Buddha, Infinite Life Buddha and the fabled Lion Buddha.
On the other hand the Pavilion of Infinite Happiness is the highest elevated hall in the compound. Here an immense Maitreya statue takes centre stage, formed of sandalwood and measuring no less than 26 m in height.
These attractions and more make a visit to the Yonghe Lamasery a very rewarding experience for any traveller.
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