YONGHE TEMPLE, Tour Part 1

Audio File length: 2.30
English / USA Language: English / USA

As soon as you leave the first courtyard, you’ll find a wide, straight road in front of you that was used for the carriages of the emperors and their wives. This road will take you to the Gate of Peace Declaration, with three large arches that lead into the second courtyard. From the road, you can see two tall constructions: a three-storey pagoda-shaped building, called the Drum Tower, and a bell tower. In ancient China, drums were used as well as bells to mark the hours.  

In the courtyard, there are also two small circular pavilions, where you can see tablets featuring the words of Emperor Qianlong, explaining why this building was turned from a residence into a temple.

 

Now press pause and press play again once you’ve visited the second courtyard.

The Yonghe Gate, which leads to the third courtyard, was originally the main entrance to the temple. It was also known as the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, because of the presence of statues along both sides of the inside walls depicting the four powerful Heavenly Kings. One is holding a snake and treasures, another an umbrella and a silver mouse, a third a sword, and the last an ancient Chinese musical instrument.

On your way out, take a look at the old copper brazier, blackened by time, embellished with a marble seat. It has six openings at the top, decorated with two dragons playing with a ball, while the seat is carved with three lions, also playing with a ball. Crafted in 1747, it is considered one of the three most valuable objects in Beijing.

The pavilion you can see opposite you, open on all four sides, contains inscriptions, ordered by Emperor Qianlong, on the importance of Buddhism.

The main palace of the monastery is the Hall of Peace and Harmony, also known as the Lama Temple. Three bronze Buddhas and 18 of Buddha’s disciples are displayed inside on both sides of the hall. The image along one of the walls of Avalokiteśvara, a Buddhist deity with thousands of hands and eyes, is particularly striking.

 

An interesting fact: several towers with bells and drums were built in Beijing starting from the 13th century. They were initially used for music performances, but were also widely used for indicating the time until the fall of the empire. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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