Beijing and China Tour Expert

Lama Temple

  • Lama Temple is a large and well preserved Tibetan monastery in Beijing. It features five large halls and five courtyards with beautifully decorative archways, upturned eaves and carved details.


  • ID : 6
  • City : beijing
  • English name : LamaTemple
  • Chinese name : 雍和宫
  • Type : deep
  • Theme : Religious building,Ancient architecture
  • Level : easy
  • Kids : possible
  • Elders: possible
  • Best season : Spring and Autumn
  • Visiting length : 40 to 120 minutes
  • Distance to city center : 6 km

Introduction of LamaTemple

  • Lama Temple features five large halls and five courtyards with beautifully decorative archways, upturned eaves and carved details. It houses a treasury of Buddhist art, including sculptured images of gods, demons and Buddhas, as well as Tibetan-style murals. Being a large and well preserved Tibetan monastery, Lama Temple is one of the popular attractions of Beijing sightseeing trip.

Photo of LamaTemple

  • Most travelers need to enter the attraction from West 2nd gate, then turn left to find the front gate facing south. The font gate on photo was taken before sunset.
  • LamaTemple
  • photo size: 1920 * 1186px
  • author: Jasper
  • owner: Beijing Xindong International Travel Service Co,.LTD
  • category: Beijing attraction photo

Highlights of visiting Beijing Lama Temple

    Hall of Heavenly Kings, The Hall of Harmony, The Hall of Eternal Blessing, Hall of the Wheel of the Law, Thousand-Happiness Pavilion

Helper to visit LamaTemple

  • Address in English : No.12 ,Yonghegong Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
  • Address in Chinese : 北京市 东城区 雍和宫大街 12号
  • Tel : +8610-84191906
  • Post code : 100007
  • Ticket time : 9:00-16:30(April 1st - October 31st),9:00-16:00(November 1st - March 31st)
  • Open time : 9:00-16:30(April 1st - October 31st),9:00-16:00(November 1st - March 31st)
  • Closing time : Null
  • Location : LamaTemple is around 6 km to downtown beijing
    • Transportation
      • Subway: Gate B or Gate C ,YONGHEGONG Lama Temple Station of Line 2 or Line 5
      • Public bus:
        • 13,18,44(Inner Loop),44(Outer Loop),62,75,116,684,909,TE12,or TE2 (Yonghegong Bridge east)
        • 13,116,117,or 684 (The lama temple station)
    • Private car is the best method if you visit LamaTemple with local tour operator.

Season and Admission

  • High season : 25 RMB/person.
  • Shoulder season : 25 RMB/person.
  • Shoulder season : 25 RMB/person.

Hotels near LamaTemple

Hotel Near Lama Temple

  • Five star/duluxe hotel
  • Five star/duluxe hotel
  • Grand Metropark Hotel Beijing
  • Grand Mercure Beijing Dongcheng
  • Yu Yang Hotel
  • The Peninsula Beijing Hotel
  • Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng Hotel
  • Four star/superior hotel
  • Hainan Hotel
  • Guizhou Mansion
  • Beijing Ningxia Hotel
  • Oriental Garden Hotel
  • Beijing Royal Grand Hotel
  • Three star/comfort hotel
  • Nostalgia Hotel (Beijing Lama Temple)
  • Hepingli Hotel
  • Beijing Traditional View Hotel
  • Jiangsu Plaza
  • Traveler Inn Huaqiao Beijing

Map of Lama Temple

  • The left part of the map shows the main buildings of Lama Temple; The right part shows the Lama Temple's location in Beijing city.
  • LamaTemple
  • map size: 2000 * 1000px
  • author: Liuqian
  • owner: Beijing Xindong International Travel Service Co,.LTD
  • category: Beijing attraction map
  • History of Lama Temple
  • Lama Temple, or Yanghegong, has a long history. It was first built in 1694 and originally used as official residence for court eunuchs of the Ming dynasty and was converted to the royal court of Prince Yongzheng (Yin Zhen) a son of Emperor Kang Xi of the Qing Dynasty. Before he ascended the throne, during the 33rd year (1693) of Kangxi's reign of the Qing dynasty, it was renamed Yonghegong.
    After the prince came to the throne in 1723, half of the residence was used as an imperial palace and the other half was converted to a lamasery, a monastery for Mongolian and Buddhist Monks as it remains today.

    After Yongzheng's death in 1735, his coffin was placed in the temple. Emperor Qianlong, his successor, upgraded Yonghegong to an imperial palace with its turquoise tiles replaced by yellow tiles (yellow was the imperial color in the Qing Dynasty). During the 9th year of Emperor Qian Long's reign (1744), it was converted into a lamasery and became a residence for large numbers of monks from Mongolia and Tibet. This is a kind of friendly policy that the Qing dynasty deals with the relation with Mongolia and Tibet. That is the reason why the Great Wall was not massive constructed during the Qing dynasty.

    Lama Temple is now a typical Tibetan Monastery. Having been closed for many years during the Cultural Revolution it was refurbished and reopened in 1980. Zhou Enlai is said to have saved it from destruction during that time. It is now a working monastery with Mongolian Monks.

Question or Comment

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    • Architecture and layout of Lama Temple
    • The dimensions of the Lama 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. Each hall has a Buddha. In the fifth hall the Buddha is seventy five feet high and was carved from one piece of Tibetan sandalwood.

      Because the structure once served 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 archway, Gate of Peace Declaration (Zhaotaimen), Palace of the Heavenly King (Tianwangdian), which was formerly the entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace, Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong), The Hall of Eternal Blessing (Yongyoudian), the Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falundian) and Pavilion of Eternal Happiness (Wanfuge).
      In addition, there are the east and west minor halls and Four Study Halls in the temple.
      More Photo

      Main Buildings of Lama Temple

    • Hall of the Heavenly King(Tianwangdian) Hall of Heavenly Kings, also called Devaraja Hall, is the former entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace. This hall is also called the Maitreya's shrine. In this hall, Maitreya always greets visitors with a smiling face.

      On each sides of Buddha Maitreya, there is a sandalwood pagoda. On the pagoda stand many small Buddhist images which were symbols of longevity, hence the Longevity Pagoda. On both sides of Maiteya's shrine are four fearsome looking Heavenly Kings or Celestial Guardians, two on each side.
      The Buddhist theory goes that the earth is divided into four worlds: northern, southern, eastern and western. Each of the four worlds is guarded by one of the Four Heavenly Kings. The Southern World Heavenly King with a sword named Zengzhang.It was said that if ghosts and monsters step in, he chants an incantation and throws his magic sword up into the sky. In a flash the sword flies down like lightning, hitting, sometimes even killing the intruder.

      The Eastern World Heavenly King named Chiguo, who sits next to the Southern World Heavenly king. He plays a Pipa, a 4-stringed Chinese lute. In the battlefield, he plucks the musical instrument and gives his enemy a headache. So he wins the battle.
      Duowen, the North World Heavenly King, carries a huge umbrella. Whenever he puts up his umbrella, the sky over the battlefield turns dark and a cyclonic storm howls, sending sand rocks whirling about.The eyesight of his rivals is sure to be impaired. Hardly had he shut up the umbrella when the rivals are drawn into in and arrested.
      The Western World Heavenly King named Guangmu. He has a water snake in his hand. It was said that, once the snake was released, the snake mounts the clouds and rides the mists. All of a sudden, the snake spurts out water and disperses his enemy.
      Behind the shrine of Maitreya stands the statue of Weituo facing backwards to a large courtyard.
      Hall of Harmony(Yonghegong) The second main hall of Lama Temple is the Hall of Harmony, formerly a meeting place for Emperor Yongzheng. Buddhism has it that the second main hall is usually called Mahavira Hall, or Daxiongbaodian (the Great Temple of Powerful Treasure) in Chinese, Mahavira is an honorable title for Sakyamuni.
      On the central altar are placed Buddha of the Three Ages:
      Sakyamuni, Buddha of the Present in the middle, who created Buddhism about 2,500 years ago; Buddha of the past Yeja, on the left;
      Buddha of the Future Maitreya on the right.

      In front of Sakyamuni are his two disciples, Ananda on the left, Mahakasyapa on the right. In the hands of some Buddha are ribbons known as Hada, a most precious gift to the Honorable.Placed on the altar in front of the Buddha of the Three Ages are the seven treasures: gold, silver, jade, pearl, sea shell, diamond, jadeites; and the eight magic weapons: the wheel of the law, the conch shell, the state umbrella, the canopy, the lotus flower, the covered vase, the pair of fish and the endless knot. The top lamas are divided into three ranks; Buddha, Boddhisattva and Arhat. On both sides of the hall stand eighteen Arhats. It is said that they were disciples of Sakyamuni and instructed by Sakyamuni to stay on earth to diffuse Buddhism if they wished to attain Buddhahoo.
      Here is a painting of Thousand-hand-eye Bodhisattva. It is said that he could see all the human bitterness and difficulties and help people to overcome them. That's why he has a thousand hands and eyes.

      Besides the Hall of Harmony, visitors can also find Bronze Incense Burner, Imperial Handwriting Pavilion and the Mountain Xumi in this courtyard.
      The incense-burner was cast in 1748. It stands 4.2 metres high with six openings to let out flames. Above each opening two dragons playing with a pearl are cast in bas-relief, while on the pedestal a design with three lions contesting for a ball is portrayed. As one of the two bronze tripods of its kind ever found in China, this is really a treasure trove. The other one stands in the imperial Garden in the Palace Museum.

      In the Imperial Handwriting Pavilion there is a stone stele erected in 1792. On the stele are inscriptions in four languages: Manchu on the front side; Mongolian on the eastern side; Tibetan on the western side and on its back Han Language written by Emperor Qianlong. It records the origin of Lamaism and the Emperor's attitude towards it. That's why the pavilion is called Imperial Handwriting Pavilion. The inscriptions are in four languages, so it is also known as the Pavilion of Four Language.
      Lamaism was quite popular in the Qing Dynasty. Lama means "teacher" or "superior being". At the very beginning only the monks on the top ranks were called lamas. Later it became an honorable title for all the monks.
      Mount Sumeru, a Ming bronze sculpture, is a representation of the Buddhist world outlook. According to Buddhist tradition, Mount Sumeru is supposed to be the centre of the world. On the top of it lies the legendary paradise where Sakyamuni and men of moral integrity live after death. The position of the stars near the peak roughly corresponds to the findings of modem astronomy. On the slopes are the dwellings for mankind and the Heavenly Kings. At the bottom, the floral design stands for sea waves. Below the seas evil spirits, devils or criminals abide in Hell.

      Hall of the Wheel of the Law(Falundian) Hall of the Wheel of the Law is the fourth main hall in the temples. This hall is extremely imposing; the overall arrangement of its plane diagram forms a cross sign and there are five petty garrets on the ceiling decorated with small lama pagodas, which are characterized by the style of Lamaism.
      In the centre of the hall is a huge gilded bronze statue of Tsong Kha-pa, the founder of the yellow Sect. He was born in Qinghai Province over 600 years ago and became a lama in Tibet when he was only 14 years.
      The statue of Great master Tsong Kpa-pa (1357-1419) is a six-meter high bronze Buddha sitting on a lotus stand. With a sword in his right hand and scriptures in his left hand, the statue symbolizes wisdom and power. It cost 200,000 silver dollars to cast the statue in 1924. More than six decades later, a patina replaced its once bright shine.

      In 1982, the statue was gilded. But very few people realize the gold leaf came from the trashcan- rubbish tossed out from the room of an old lama who died in the spring of that year. He Nima, a sharp-eyed lama aged 70, spotted a small pillow of the deceased in the trash early one morning. Although it was dirty and seemed of no value, he took it back to his room to save it. Several days later, the lama's niece was visiting him and spied the dirty pillow on his bed. "Why do you keep this pillow?" she said. "I could buy you a new one." The Lama said that wasn't necessary. He had money. "I just felt it's a pity to throw it away. It's still useful." the niece said in that case she'd take it home and clean it for him. When she emptied the pillow, a golden necklace and two pairs of golden bracelets tumbled out. Dumbfounded, she returned to tell her uncle what she had found. He offered them to the temple to restore the statue of Tsong Kpa-pa. The temple's committee of religious affairs exchanged the jewelry for gold leaf. That August, lamas and monks from across the country attended a ceremony at the temple where the statue was unveiled, adorned in its bright new skin of gold.
      The frescoes on the side walls tell us about the life of Sakyamuni, showing how he was born from the armpit of his mother, and how he finally created and preached Buddhism. They were retouched in 1953 according to the original design.
      The wheel is called the Scripture-Turning Wheel. It is said that each wheel, big or small, is stuffed with Buddhist scripture. If you turn it one revolution, it means you have already read all the Buddhist scripture once.

      Along the walls on both sides of the hall stand bookcases holding 108 volumes of the Buddhist Sutras in Tibetan language translated from ancient Indian language. It is titled The Great Tibetan Buddhist Sutra, with 207 volumes of the sequel of the Sutras. Now very few such Buddhist scriptures are preserved in perfect condition.
      The Mountain of Five Hundred Arhats is carved out of black wood and the Arhats modeled out of gold, silver, bronze, iron and tin. Five hundred Arhats are worshipped in some Buddhist temples. When Sakyamuni preached, there was no written scripture. Later his 500 disciples wrote down the Great Tibetan Buddhist Sutra according to what he preached. For their contributions, they were upgraded from lamas to Arhats. Here a vivid picture shows they were on the road to Buddhahood.
      This Fish-and-dragon Evolving Basin is carved out of Ebony wood. Buddhism has it that human beings evolved from fish, and those who have both ability and political integrity could continuously evolve to dragons. Emperor Qianlong had a bath in the basin when he was three days old. His mother hoped that he son would evolve to a dragon. So the basin is also called Three-day-old-emperor Washing Basin.

      Hall of the Heavenly King(Wanfuge) Ten Thousand-Happiness pavilion (Wanfuge in Chinese) is also called the Tower of the Great Buddha. In the center of the building is a huge statue of maitreya, Buddha of the future, carved out of a single trunk of white Sandawood with a total cost of 80,000 taels of silver (2,500 kiloes of silver) an entry in the Guinness book of world Records. It is 26 meters high, 18 meters above the ground and 8 meters under the ground, and 8 meters in diameter. It was a gift for Emperor Qianlong from the Seventh Dalai Lama.

      Emperor Qianlong felt that the area at the rear of the lamasery was too bare and planned to build a high tower as a protective screen, but it was very difficult to find a sandalwood tree of such size. The Tibetan envoy heard this in Beijing and told the Seventh Dalai Lama about it. Shortly afterwards, he sent people to look for a huge tree. Finally he found one in Tibet and sent it here as a gift to the Emperor to express his thanks because emperor Qianlong had sent troops to Tibet to put down a rebellion and turn back the power to the Seventh Dalai Lama. It took three years to ship this huge tree from the banks of the Yangtze River, through the Grand Canal and up to Beijing and another three years for carving and erection. The temple was converted into a Lamasery in 1744, but this part was not completed until 1750. Behind the Great Buddha, there are ten thousand small Buddhas on three storeys. Hence the name, Ten-thousand-Happiness Pavilion.

      First refurbished in 1953, the temple was again restored in 1978, and opened to the public in 1981. The latest effort, which started in 1992, focused on the renewal of the Giant Buddhist Maitreya and was completed in October 1993. The two-year face lift cost more than 500,00 yuan (87,719) state funds most of which was spent n coating the statue with 2.5 kilos of gold foil. According to the Guinness Book of world Records, the Maitreya is the tallest and biggest in the world today.
      The Hall of Boundless Happiness is the biggest building in the Lama Temple of Peace and Harmony flanked by the Hall of Everlasting Health and the Hall of Peace. They are connected by a corridor of the Suspension Hall, which form a cluster of majestic dignified buildings. In the Hall of the Boundless Happiness, stands a famous huge statue of Buddha, 26 meters high carved out of a whole piece of sandalwood; it is the biggest wood-carving Buddha in the world.

      Four Study Halls On either side of the courtyard of Lama Temple are four subsidiary halls devoted to the lama's studies of specialized subjects, medicine in the Medicine Hall, mathematics in the Mathematics Hall, esoteric in the Esoteric Hall and Buddhist philosophy in the Exoteric Hall.
      Twenty-six students of Tibetan and Mongolian nationalities were sent from Inner Mongolia, Qinghai and Liaoning. They came to study at yonghegong Lamasery in spring, 1981 and have taken part in Buddhist ceremonies. The youngest was 20 years old and the oldest 34. They all came from Buddhist families.
      The courses are Tibetan language, the religious discipline of the Yellow Sect, the traditional Sutras and religious rituals. Half of their time is spent in classroom studies and the rest in services in the compound. They follow monastic discipline and are expected to become successors to the elder lamas staffing the temple at present.
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