The Lama Temple in Beijing is a functioning lamasery for Tibetan and Mongolian monks practising Tibetan Buddhism. It’s open to visitors, and is a very popular tourist attraction featuring well preserved ancient architecture and artifacts, along with friendly monks roaming the grounds!
As a primer, the word lama is another name for a Buddhist priest, and a lamasery is a place for monks to practice their beliefs on the journey to becoming a lama. It’s somewhat hard to imagine that someone could find spiritual enlightenment in the middle of bustling Beijing, but nonetheless this is quite a special place.
The site, built in the late 1600’s, was originally the palace of Prince Yin Zhen who later became an emperor. The palace then became a Buddhist monastery as it is today.
The large grounds are walled off from the surrounding city, although the nearby streets carry a similar theme to the temple with many shops selling related souvenirs and Buddhist ornaments. Inside the walls are numerous halls, courtyards, pavilions, gates, towers and yards each having special significance and meaning.
The pinnacle of the site is inside the Wanfuge Hall, which holds a massive 18 meter high statue of the Buddhist deity Maitreya. Amazingly the statue is carved from a single piece of sandalwood, unfortunately no photos of the statue are allowed.
Address: 12 Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng, Beijing
Lama Temple Location Map including nearby hotels