Beijing is a city packed with things to see. Some might be a bit overwhelmed by the size of it, the noise and its vibe. In the „Must see in Beijing“ blog posts, I will introduce you places I personally think one shouldn’t miss on a visit to China’s crazy capital. Lama Temple is with no doubt one of them, and our first stop.
Lama Temple, also known as The Yonghe Temple (Palace of Peace and Harmony), is the most renowned Tibetan buddhist temple located outside of Tibet. It was converted to lamasery in 1744 after it served as a residence to Emperor Yong Zheng. Nowadays, it is home to Mongolian and Tibetan monks and an active place of worship where people come from afar. Beijingers also come here to pray – for luck and happiness, occasions such as weddings and births but also for businesses and even exams.
I would say, it’s one of the most iconic places in Beijing. If you’re in China but can’t make it to Tibet, this is your place to go. Even though it’s located in a busy Dongcheng district (wait, which part of Beijing isn’t actually busy?!), once you enter the area surrounded by high walls, you find yourself in a completely different world. Quiet, peaceful and filled with scents coming from burning incense sticks, it is an oasis of calm.
“I would say, it’s one of the most iconic places in Beijing. If you’re in China but can’t make it to Tibet, this is your place to go.”
When I first saw it, I was stunned. The vibe around it, the atmospheric calm and monks slowly walking around the area – everything was just so different from the world outside of the walls. The main gate is bursting with colours and various patterns. The area is filled with many buildings and small temples with red roofs, breathtaking paintings and detailed decorative art. Tibetan prayer wheels are probably everyone’s favourite pieces there, and I couldn’t help but observe them and of course, touch them!
Visitors are walking around all over the place, monks are peacefully strolling around the area, the majestic statues are standing there in their full beauty guarding this sacred place and the incense smoke is being formed into clouds one can barely see through.
The area is divided into smaller sections. The main halls, separated by courtyards, are the Hall of the Heavenly Kings (Tian Wang Dian), the Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong), the Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyou Dian), the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses (Wanfu Ge) and the Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falun Dian), where a giant statue of Maitreya Buddha in his Tibetan form is placed. He’s covered in yellow satin and sculpted from one single block of sandalwood. Each of these halls have unique decorations, colorful but somehow still earthy. While walking around, I just found myself so hypnotized by all the details, hand painted motives, crafts and calligraphy I never stop being curious about.
Lama Temple brings two worlds together – the imperial splendor and religious peace. It creates a world so different from any other place I have seen in Beijing. If you visit it, just get lost in it. Get lost in the beauty of the place where time stops for a while, where you can have a rest from the noises of the city. Have a stroll in the park surrounding the temple. And feel the magic of this place.
“Lama Temple brings two worlds together – the imperial splendor and religious peace.”
After you’re done meditating and dreaming about how you want to visit Tibet now, when you got an idea of how magical it would possibly be, make sure you explore the area outside of the temple. Cross the road and explore the streets of Hutongs – old Beijing style houses and tiny streets full of shops packed with buddhist pieces, gorgeous calligraphy, Tibetan flags and so on. You can also find nice places to eat there or simply have snack in the street and try something you have never tried before!
How to get there:
The easiest way to get there is by underground. Get off at Yonghegong Dajie stop and follow the arrows. The temple is located literally on the side of the underground stop.
If you have some spare time left, pay a visit to Confucius Temple which is nearby!