Beijing :: Yonghegong Lama Temple
Image by YST (aka kryptos5)
Yonghegong is a lama temple within 2 minutes’ walk from Candy Inn, the youth hostel where I stayed in. Being unaware of the place until I came to Beijing, the temple wasn’t on my original itinerary. But since it was practically around the corner from the youth hostel, I managed to squeeze it into my itinerary before I left for Peking University for the STeLA Forum.
Built in 1694, Yonghegong originally served as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng and Emperor Qianlong. After Emperor Qianlong moved to the Forbidden City following his enthronement, he donated his former residence to be converted into a lama temple.
The place is the biggest Buddhist temple in China, where high-ranking lamas were housed between 1732 and 1911.
Among other Buddhism relics, Yonghegong houses a 26-meter-high Buddha statue which was sent by the seventh Dalai Lama as a birthday gift to Emperor Qianlong. It took three years to ship the white sandalwood from Sri Lanka, out of which the statue was carved out of.