Yonghe Lamasery
-- Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery --



Pavilion of Eternal Happiness in the Yonghe Lamasery Yonghegong Lamsery, a renowned lama temple of the Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism, situated at the northeast part of Beijing city. It was originally built in 1694 as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing before he ascended the throne and was renamed Yonghegong later. After Yongzheng's death in 1735, his coffin was placed in the temple. Emperor Qianlong, his successor, then upgraded Yonghegong to an imperial palace with its turquoise tiles replaced by yellow tiles (yellow was the imperial color in the Qing dynasty). In 1744, it was converted into a lamasery and became a residence for large numbers of monks from Mongolia and Tibet.

Once served as an imperial palace, the layout of the temple is quite different from other temple. The main gate faces south, and on its 480-meter-long north-south axis are five main halls and annex connected by courtyards. They include a glaze-tiled arch, Gate of Peace (Zhaotaimen), Devaraja Hall (Tianwangdian), which was formerly the entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace, Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong), Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian), Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falundian) and Pavilion of Eternal Happiness (Wanfuge).

A huge gilded bronze statue of Tsong Khapa in the Hall of the Wheel of the Law in the Yonghe Lamasery Walking through a grand glaze-tile arch patterned with decorative dragons and flowers in the first court, you will reach a three-arch gate - the Gate of Peace. The central passageway is for emperors. In the second court next too the Gate of Peace stand the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower on each side. Two pavilions stand symmetrically on opposite to the north. Inscriptions of Chinese, Manchu, Mogolian and Tibetan engraved on steles record the temple's history.

The Devaraja Hall - formerly the entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace is also called the Maitreya's shrine or the Hall of Heavenly Kings. In the hall Maitreya always greets visitors with a smiling face with a sandalwood pagoda on each side. On the pagoda stand many small Buddhist images, which symbolize longevity. Hence, the Longevity Pagoda. On both sides of Maiteya's shrine are four fearsome looking Heavenly Kings or Celestial Guardians. Behind the shrine of Maitreya stands the statue of Weituo facing backwards to a large courtyard.

A marble-based bronze incense-burner stands on the way to the Hall of Harmony and Peace. It stands 4.2 meters high with decorations of two dragons playing with a pearl on its six opens. Afterwards is the Mount Sumeru, a bronze sculpture of Ming symbolizes the center of the world. On the top of it lies a legendary paradise where Sakyamuni and men of moral integrity live after death; the dwellings of humans in the middle and devils abide in Hell below.

A auxiliary tower of the Tower of the Great Buddha in the Yonghe Lamasery,  Beijing The Hall of Harmony and Peace - formerly a meeting place for Yongzheng, has another name called Mahavira Hall or Daxiongbaodian in Buddhism. In Chinese, Mahavira is an honorable title of Sakyamuni. On altar is Sakyamuni, Buddha of the Present in the middle with Buddha of the Past Yeja and the Buddha of the Future Maitreya on each side. Statues of 18 Arhats stand on each side of the hall. 18 Arhats were said to be the disciples of Samkyamuni to diffuse Buddhism. A painting on the western wall is a Bodhisattva.

Right behind the Hall of the Harmony and Peace is the Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian) and the Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falundian) in which enshrines a bronze image of Tsongkhapa - founder of the Yellow Hat Sect. The golden-roofed Falundian with 5 gold-plating pagodas was the place where lamas assemble to have religious activities. In the center of the hall is a 6-meter-high gilded bronze statue of Tsong Kapa on a lotus.

Now there are about 70 lamas in this temple. For a small fee, you can also get the lamas to bless things for you, usually jade pendants and the like.





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