Step into a hidden world of serenity in inner-city Beijing. The Lama Temple was once an imperial residence during the Qing Dynasty, but is now among the largest Buddhist temples in China. Follow the pilgrims and visit the fully operational temple and monastery to see ornaments, Tibetan Buddha statues and incense-filled shrines.
Also known as the “Palace of Peace and Harmony,” or Yonghegong, this former royal building was transformed into a Buddhist temple during the 18th century. It still welcomes monks from Mongolia and Tibet. The complex comprises five main halls and numerous courtyards and sanctuaries. Set aside a few hours to explore it all.
As you admire the series of shrines and their colorful iconography, enjoy the serene atmosphere created by aromatic incense and chanting monks. This is a fitting place to become familiar with Buddhist rituals and relics of the old China.
Enter the many impressive structures, including the Hall of the Heavenly Kings. In the Hall of Harmony and Peace, check out the colorful mural with the many hands and eyes of Avalokiteśvara , the bodhisattva of compassion.
Make your way through the series of archways and five main halls and notice how the Buddha statues increase in size. In the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses you’ll find the biggest and most spectacular idol: a towering Buddha statue. This impressive figure is carved from a single block of white sandalwood.
Lama Temple is located in inner-city Beijing, in the central Dongcheng District. Shop for Buddhism-themed souvenirs in the surrounding craft shops. The complex is open daily and has its own subway station, named Yonghegong Lama Temple Station.
The temple has an admission fee. As an active monastery and site of worship, visitors are asked to be quiet and respect the photography guidelines. There is no particular dress code, but it is good practice to cover bare skin.