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Zhihua Temple – A Quick Visit – A Temple Being Refurbished

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I had read about a very old Buddhist temple in Beijing and had wanted to visit for a couple of years, but knew it would only be an hour or so long-visit, so wanted to plan it when I was also doing some other sightseeing around Beijing.  So one day, a friend and I hired a driver and went to the temple followed by some other sightseeing.

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Unfortunately as it had been on my list for two years, I had left it too late and on the day I went, it was being refurbished so was closed.

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So we only got to peek inside the gates and take a look and when we went to step inside the elderly Chinese ‘bouncer’ made us step back out…guess China has the same workplace safety as here in Australia!!, but we were able to sneak a couple of photos.

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Our driver thought it strange we wanted to go and see this temple as it is a little hard to find and by his account not visited by many foreigners.  But for me even to see inside the front doors was worth it.  Our driver dropped us off at the end of the road and we walked up Lumicang Hutong to reach the temple.

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So a little history on the temple; it was built in 1443 – at a time when eunuchs held  great influence in the imperial court.  This temple was built at the order of a powerful eunuch of the court of the Zhengtong Emperor who reigned between different periods in the 15th century.  The temple is one of the most important original building complexes from the Ming dynasty period and one of the only wooden structures from the Ming dynasty to remain intact in Beijing.  And it was for this reason I wanted to see it.

IMG_5554 IMG_5555When the temple is open, there is usually a group of musicians who  perform regularly with centuries-old ritual music which has been handed down over twenty-seven generations.

There are six members in the musical group is led by an 80-year-old Buddhist monk who is the only surviving member of the 26th generation of musicians, and the last person to have learned the music in the traditional manner. The group sings and plays instruments including the oboe, flute, drums and cymbals.  I was very disappointed not to see and hear this; but with my return to Beijing next March, I shall definitely stop by.

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(both photos from wikipedia – Zhihua Temple musicians)