Lama Temple

Lama Temple

Officially Yonghe Temple (Palace of Peace and Harmony), the Lama Temple is a Tibetan Buddhist sanctuary located just north of the Forbidden City, and is one of the most important temples outside of Tibet. Of the Buddhist school of Gelug (Yellow Hat Sect), the temple is a fascinating combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. Built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, it was the residence of the Yongzheng Emperor when he was a prince. After he ascended to the throne in 1722, half of the building became a lamasery (monastery), whilst the other half remained an imperial palace. After Yongzheng died, his successor Qianglong Emperor, gave the temple imperial status and over time it began to serve as a residence for Tibetan Buddhist monks from Mongolia and Tibet. It is also the national centre of administrating Lamas.

Within the temple you’ll find a feast for the eyes, with frescoes, tapestries, decorative arches, prayer wheels and statues to admire. An active place of worship, the temple has a wonderfully vibrancy with pilgrims from far and wide prostrating themselves in its five halls. There are some particular art works to look out for – the 18 metre white sandalwood statue of the Maitreya Buddha and a bronze work of the Buddhas of the Three Ages.
Lama Temple Map

Six Facts About The Lama Temple

The famous statue of the Maitreya Buddha is reputedly carved from a single piece of sandalwood.

The Maitreya Buddha also holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest statue to be carved from a single piece of sandalwood!

The street outside the temple is packed with stalls and shops – it’s a great place to watch the pilgrims making their way to worship.

It is believed that the temple survived the Cultural Revolution because of the intervention of the premier Zhou Enlai.

There are five main halls on the complex, arranged along a north-south axis, each separated by courtyards.

There are thrones in the ‘Hall of the Wheel of Law’ which are for the Dalai Lamas – they used to come here to teach.


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