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Beijing’s Dong Yue Temple

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This temple is definitely worth visiting even just for about an hour or so – it’s historical but also weird and fascinating.

Historical:

This taoist temple is located in Chaoyang District and is dedicated to the God of Mount Tai which is the easternmost and holiest of the Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism.

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Founded during the Yuan Dynasty, this temple is the largest of the Zhengyi school of Taoism in northern China.  It’s in a very peaceful location which surprisingly had very few people.  The courtyards are pretty and hold a collection of about ninety stone tablets, some dating back to the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

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Weird and Fascinating:

There are numerous halls around the edge of the courtyard area which were previously departments of the Taoist supernatural realm where spirits and demonic government officials dwell.

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Each hall is governed by a minister, court/government official and defendants.  The larger than life people and animal-like figures are unique and particularly odd – some quite scary (the temple is recorded by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten scary places to visit in Beijing).  Each hall has a large Chinese and English plaque describing the ministerial department and its duties.

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Several of these departments feature rather frightening netherworld employees dealing out nasty punishments.  One of my photographs below depicts a scene from the ‘Headquarters for Controlling the Punishment’ department – I am not sure what crime justifies having one’s tongue stretched out until it’s the size of a rolled up broadsheet newspaper – and unlike a rolled out newspaper which we can roll back up – I don’t think this poor fellow’s tongue will ever go back into his mouth.

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Some of the departments make sense, for example the ‘Instant Rewards and Retribution’ department and the ‘Recording Merits’ department.  However some make no sense at all and others take a little bit of your imagination for example the ‘department for demons and monsters’ and the ‘department for implementing fifteen kinds of violent death’.

My next photo depicting a man with a rather scary look on his face belonged in the ‘unjust death’ department – I wasn’t sure if he was the intended recipient of an unjust death or he is the contributor – either way he looks pretty scary!

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The temple is located at Dongyue Miao, Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang District.  10 RMB entry or 30 RMB for a guided tour.