We have a joke (actually serious) about visiting active temples / monasteries: ‘It’s time to leave when you reach the monks’ underwear.’ Drying on a line, I mean. There comes that point. You can go no further.
We love that. We couldn’t see enough temples.
Beijing, having sucked the wealth from a continent, for millennia, has unknown minor temples that would be cover stories anywhere else. There is Yonghegong & the Temple of Heaven. And there are many more. Here is the list had — and didn’t quite finish. Our 14 Beijing Temples List.
1) Guanghua On HouHai/Shichahai, beautiful, very active Buddhist temple. 31 Ya’er Hutong, Xicheng, Beijing. The boys were given amulets there by the abbot.
2) Zihua. At certain times, the monks play ancient Buddhist music. It is the only place of its kind. A bit hard to find in Dongchen, about 14 blocks below Jianhuomen on Line 5; about 15 blocks above Chaoyangmen. Below Lumicang hutong, above Dafangjia hutong.
3) Mentougou 1 hr. outside Beijing. Best hire a driver for the day. The temple complexes are Tazhe Si, and nearby Jietai Si, from 600s & also very famous.
4) Chengde (many temples) ‘Little Tibet’, about 3 hours’ drive. Summer getaway of the Qing. Main palace in a vast forest park, plus (even better) the many outlying Tibetan-style temples built in tribute, and to rein in faraway lands. Need a car. We went in one too-long day. Best for a week-end. Less crowded at the outlying temples. Many under construction…or should be.
5) Dazhong Si (Great Bell Temple) Right in Haidian, buried in urban craziness. Huge bell! Has its own subway stop. Great.
6) Wanshou (Temple of Longevity) 5-minute walk from Beijing Foreign Studies U., and from Purple Bamboo Park. Ming. 1578. Before fall of the Qing, a rest stop for imperial processions traveling by boat to the Summer Palace and Western Hills (it’s on a canal). Managed by Beijing Art Museum, houses collection of Buddha images. Suzhou Jie, Xisanhuan Lu, on the north side of Zizhu Bridge, Haidian District
8) Dahui (Temple of Great Wisdom) Haidian. Ming dynasty. Dahui Lu Si near Xueyuan Nan Lu. Built 1513; restored 1757. We did not make it here, either!
9) Biyun Si (Temple of Azure Clouds) (Chinese: 碧云寺 ) Buddhist, eastern part of the Western Hills, just outside the north gate of Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan Gongyuan). Can also see Sun yat Sen memorial & Fragrant Hills (has a chairlift if you don’t want to climb) We walked up, chairlift down. Taxi works well.
10) Dongyue Si (Taoist, mid-Chaoyang) – probably the most important Taoist temple in Beijing, Buried in Chaoyang. Near the Russian market.
11) White Cloud Temple (Bai Yungguan) in Fengtai (southwestern) district. Home to the Taoist Association, very large, active temple in the middle of an ordinary residential neighborhood. There is one English speaker (top photo) who was so helpful with explanations.
12) Xi Huang Si – Western yellow, best lamaist architecture ,1780. This is fantastic gem, unknown. We found it closed to the public but talked our way in. I think its northeast 2nd ring?
13) Bei Tai (White Pagoda) The temple atop the island hill in Beihai Park
14) Dajue Si at foot of Yangtai Hill, 1498 – Lovely site built into a mountainside. Has oldest extant Buddha statue in garden. Hire a taxi but have clear directions, no one knows where it is. Out beyond the secret military installation, kind of past/near Fragrant Hills. Gorgeous expensive tea house.