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Lama Temple (Yonghegong Lamasery)
Beijing Lama Temple or Yonghe Lamasery, a renowned lama temple of the Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism, is located in the northeastern part of the old city of Beijing. It was a palatial residence built in 1694 by Qing Emperor Kangxi for his fourth son, Prince Yongzheng who later succeeded to the throne. The total area of the compound calculated from the southernmost memorial archway to the lamasery's northernmost point is 66,400 square meters. The dimensions of the temple are magnificent, which have five courtyards in a row. The front structural layout in the temple is bright and spacious dotted with screen walls with carved murals, lifeless things and decorated archways. The interior pavement leading to the main halls and the evergreen pine and cypress appear to be rather peaceful and secluded in the environment. The back structural layout is composed of a cluster of building, halls and pavilions intermingled with each other, and upturned eaves and ridges beautifully interwoven presenting a picturesque sight.
When Yinzhen became Emperor Yongzheng after his father's death, a section of the residential grounds was maintained as a temporary palace to be used by the emperor for short visits, while the other half was turned over to the Lamaists to serve as a place for the recitation of scriptures. Once serving as an imperial palace, the layout of the temple is quite different from other temples. The main gate faces south, and on its 480-meter-long north-south axis are five main halls and annexes connected by courtyards. They include a glaze-tiled arch, Gate of Peace Declaration, Devaraja Hall, which was formerly the entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace, Hall of Harmony and Peace, Hall of Everlasting Protection Hall of the Wheel of the Law and Pavilion of Eternal Happiness. Later, the palace section was razed by fire and in 1725 that section of the compound occupied by the Lamas was given the name Yonghe (Harmony and Peace) Lamasery.
Several renovations have been carried out since 1949. The temple has taken on a new look and was reopened to the public in 1981. It is now not only a functional lama temple, but also a tourist attraction.
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. The temple is listed by the Chinese Government as one of the important historical monuments under special preservation.
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