One of Beijing’s most beautiful temples…Yong He Gong (Lama Temple)
For some reason I have always loved Yong He Gong in Beijing. The first time I went there in 2010, I arrived at 10am and sat on a bench to relax and watch the non-tourist visitors light incense to pray – it was quiet (surprising for anywhere in Beijing) and calming. I sat on a bench to take in the surroundings and opposite me sat a monk – I snuck a photo. I just felt so very relaxed and peaceful – and by the way Yong He Gong translates to Palace of Peace and Harmony so it’s no wonder I felt this way…
However, it is like any other main attraction in Beijing, there are thousands of Chinese who visit, so you really do have to get there early.
Yong He Gong is both a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Gelug is one of the newest schools of Tibetan Buddhism. And whilst I say it’s one of the ‘newest’ schools, it’s definitely not a new building as it was built in 1744 during the Qing Dynasty.
The artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles and really is quite beautiful.
I entered from the north so immediately after paying the small entry fee, I am confronted by a wide straight road which was used for the carriages of the emperors and their wives during the Qing Dynasty.
At the northern end of this road is Zhaotaimen (Gate of Peace Declaration), which comprises three large archways, the central one of which was for the exclusive use of the emperors.
Passing through Zhaotai Gate you will enter a second yard which contains a Drum Tower and a Bell tower, and in front of these towers are two octagonal Pavilions. Words by Emperor Qianlong were carved explaining the traditional and historical reasons that dwellings formerly used by Imperial Family must later be changed to temples.
A short distance away and opposite the temple is the Wudaoying Hutong. So when you are finished walking around the temple, cross the road and you will walk down this delightful Hutong. Lots of great restaurants including the Vineyard Cafe which serves lots of veggie meals and seems to be a bit of a hippy restaurant; nothing wrong with that but it’s one of those restaurants where nothing matches i.e. tables and chairs and crockery, but the food is great. It has all western food and you can buy wine and beer to wash down your meal. Excellent!!
There is also a beautiful Chinese restaurant across the road from the temple called ‘King’s Joy’ where everything is ordered on iPad and hardly anyone speaks English but it’s so beautiful inside. It’s an expensive restaurant but I think worth the money as service and food is fabulous. There is also a a live harp performance during the evening.
Love Lama Temple…