This magnificent Buddhist monastery in central Beijing is well worth a visit both for its stillness and its beauty.
The Lama Temple is a calm and peaceful oasis in the heart of the busy city. Beginning life as a home for members of Chinese royalty, it is now a huge Buddhist temple and monastery, and plays a central role in the practice of that faith in China’s capital.
Pilgrims flock here to worship, while many others come to enjoy the exquisite murals, beautifully sculpted Buddha statues and other art on display throughout the temple. The architecture and artworks here display both Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.
Also known as the Palace of Peace and Harmony, or Yonghegong in Mandarin, the Lama Temple was converted into a monastery during the course of the 18th century. It is composed of five main halls, along with a number of small and intimate courtyards and sanctuaries. Stroll among the shrines and enjoy the colour on display, listening to the chanting monks as you go; these often include visitors from Mongolia and Tibet.
The history and development of Buddhism is laid out for you during a tour of the monastery. Visit the Hall of Harmony and Peace to see the Avalokiteśvara mural representing compassion, or take in the splendid and enormous 26-metre sandalwood Buddha in the Pavilion of the Ten Thousand Happinesses.
To really soak in the tranquil ambience and admire the religious iconography on display, it’s best to allow most of a morning or an afternoon for your visit.
The Lama Temple is found in the middle of Beijing, in the Dongcheng District. Mementoes and Buddhist remembrances are available in the many craftshops found in the area. You can reach here via the Yonghegong Lama Temple subway station.
The temple is open every day, and there is a fee for entry. Please be quiet and follow the photography guidelines. There are no specific rules regarding clothing, but it’s best to cover exposed skin.