Beijing’s Dong Yue Temple
This temple is definitely worth visiting even just for about an hour or so – it’s historical but also weird and fascinating.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The temple is located at Dongyue Miao, Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang District. 10 RMB entry or 30 RMB for a guided tour.