Clouds of smoke and bursts of colour: Beijing’s Lama Temple

IMG_4287Beijing’s Lama Temple is a popular spot for locals and travelers alike, and this is never more true than during the Lunar New Year. Chinese people worldwide visit temples to make offerings, take some time to reflect, and pray for good fortune and luck in the New Year.

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Main gate of the Lama Temple. Admission price: 25 yen, or around $5 USD.

Also known as Yonghegong, the Lama Temple is recognized as one of the most significant examples of Tibetan-style temples outside of Tibet. Prayer flags add bright bursts of colour in every direction, and the architectural style (and its level of detail) are simply astounding.
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A bonding moment between a father and daughter.

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The air was thick with smoky incense.

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Open fires to light one’s incense.

Construction began in 1694 under the Qing dynasty. The complex served first as a residence for court eunuchs, later became home to Prince Yongzheng, and eventually was partially converted into a lamasery, or a temple where Tibetan Buddhists could study.
IMG_4284 It was fascinating to witness so many locals deep in reflective thought, performing the kinds of rituals that have taken place for thousands of years. The skies were drizzly and grey with snowfall, and chilly mists intermingled with the heavily perfumed clouds floating up from visitors’ bundles of incense. It lent a wonderful atmosphere to the afternoon. IMG_4285
IMG_4292IMG_4296IMG_4304 IMG_4310 IMG_4313 The Lama Temple can be accessed from the subway station bearing its Chinese name (Yonghegong) on lines 2 and 5. Take exit C and walk for about 400 metres. It will be obvious when you have reached the temple, fear not. Alternatively, there are a number of buses passing the area. IMG_4319 IMG_4322 IMG_4330 IMG_4332 After we’d had our fill of the bustling temple experience, Soozie and I wandered around the area a little more, coming across this elaborate (and busy!) restaurant. IMG_4343 IMG_4346 IMG_4353If you’re interested on seeing what else I got up to in Beijing, you can see my posts on the Great Wall of China, Summer Palace, or the Hutongs of Beijing here! And, of course, you can explore Beijing’s culinary side, be it everyday fare or the strange delights of the Wangfujing Night Market.

Have you been to Beijing? What did you enjoy the most about this vibrant and intriguing city?

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9 thoughts on “Clouds of smoke and bursts of colour: Beijing’s Lama Temple

  1. All these colours, it’s so vibrant and very beautiful. I may go to Beijing next February, to see my boyfriend’s family. I’ve never set a food in China. But I don’t think I will have time to visit a lot 😉

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    • Cool! Even though the weather was chilly, it was a nice time of year to visit. It wasn’t too busy and there were some cool events in honour of the New Year. Just be careful to make sure places are actually open! Ha. How long do you think you would have? I was able to do quite a bit in under 5 days. 🙂

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      • I’m sure a lot of places would be close, Chinese New Year is the most popular holiday right ?! We don’t know yet how long we would have, it will depend on the timetable of my boyfriend and if I manage to find a job or not. But in any case, we won’t visit much, it will be a lot of family meeting (but I still hope to manage to visit some places ;-))

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    • I can understand that. I don’t think it would have been quite as interesting if it weren’t for the weather and the festivities going on that day! I didn’t make it to the Temple of Heaven, but I loved the Summer Palace as well.

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  2. The lama temple is so awesome and a beautiful mix of Qing dynasty architecture and Tibetan culture. It looks like it was a a nice break from some of the major tourist destinations in Beijing.

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