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China: Lama Temple

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Lama Temple | China | Asia

[Visited: December 2004]

The Lama Temple is the largest temple of Beijing. Originally established as a palace for a prince of the Qing dynasty, it was turned into a Lama temple in 1744. It is the best known Tibetan Buddhist temple in China, that is, if you don't include Tibet itself in China. This Tibetan temple can also be seen as a convenient argument for the government to show that they have a liberal stance towards religion and national unity.

Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: tower near the main entrance

On a cold December day, I decided to go to the Lama Temple. Snow blowing around me, and with my hands deep in my gloves, I entered this temple without realizing I was going to be in for several hours. The lane leading to the entrance proper is of the long, tree-lined type, and the fresh snow on the ground and the branches of the trees gave it a very wintery appearance. When I entered the main courtyard, I first looked at the pavillions or towers, among them the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, and the Porridge Pot. The latter was apparently used by a Lama to make porridge and distribute it among the people.

Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: incense burning outside temple

I watched one of the large incense burners outside the entrance of the first hall, with faces of praying people and a monk partly hidden by the incense smoke. From here, I explored all temples and halls, in which photography is unfortunately not allowed. I saw small exhibitions, artwork, tapestries, and in one of the last halls, the giant Buddha, made of one piece of sandalwood, and 18 metres high. An imposing sight, a giant Buddha, Maitreya Buddha. looking down in a friendly way, with his enormous hands calming those looking up at him.

Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: detailof colourfully decorated roof
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: entrance hidden by trees
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: door of one of the towers
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: inside of tower
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: monk and belieber at incense burner
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: one of the halls outside
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: monk throwing snow
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: outside one of the temples
Picture of Lama Temple (China): Lama Temple, Beijing: giant lian at entrance of first temple

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