Today China has respect for the freedom of religious belief and allows the independent running of religious affairs. Religion is as important in China as it is anywhere and is permitted as an individual right.
Many religions coexist in relative harmony here, and the Chinese believe in Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Christianity. Each is respected as independent but equal.
As the capital of a country with many faiths, Beijing has a great variety of sacred sites, reflecting the five religious traditions that can be found across the country.
Buddhism is the dominant religious philosophy in China and
first arrived during the Han Dynasty and played a central role
in Chinese culture and history.
There are numerous Buddhist temples in Beijing, including some that are celebrated.
Yong He Gong
Add: 12 Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng District
Tel: (010) 6404-4499
Buses: 13, 18, 44, 62, 116, 406, 807, subway
Yong He Gong (or Lama Temple) is probably the most prominent and colourful in Beijing. At one time it was the official residence of Count Yin Zhen, a Chinese Emperor during the Qing Dynasty (AD1644-1911). When he became Emperor in 1723, the temple was transformed as all green tiles were replaced with imperial yellow.
Now a working lamasery, it has three spectacular archways and five main halls, each larger than the last and all boasting courtyards and galleries. Keep an eye out for the 18-meter high Buddha in Wanfu Pavilion.
Add: Fangshan District
Tel: (010) 6138-9612
Buses: You 10* from 7-8am at station 22 at Qianmen, 343 at Wanyuan Lu, 6 at Liuliqiao or 373 at Yuquan Lu or 917 at Tianqiao and get off at Fangshan, change to a minibus to Zhangfang.
*You means tourist bus
The Yunju (or Cloud Dwelling) Temple that is situated in a limestone cave, south of the Shangfang Mountains, grew up around a shrine. Two bone fragments found at the site were said to belong to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. More than 77,000 engraved wooden blocks containing the Chinese Tripitaka or Buddhist scriptures draw large crowds to the site.
Add: North of Mokoushicun, Shijingshan District
Tel: (010) 8871-6743
Buses: 337 at Changchun Jie and get off at Shijingshan station or
311 at Pingguoyuan and get off at Moshikoucun.
Buddhist murals that date to the Ming Dynasty (AD1368-1644) can be seen at Fahai (Law of the Sea) Temple on the western fringes of the city. In meticulous detail, the murals represent the meeting of Buddhist deities.
This really is a peaceful retreat. During any visit to China, you will encounter tour guides with tales of ancient trees in temple courtyards. One of the finest examples must be the Jiulong Pine Tree (or Nine-Dragon Pine), found inside Jietai Temple and said to be over 1,300 years old.
Built during the Tang Dynasty, the temple is a tree lover's delight with the main complex liberally dotted with ancient pines, many given their own quirky names.
Add: South of Maanshan, Mentougou District
Tel: (010) 6980-6611
Buses: You 7* at station 22 in Qianmenhen or 335 at Fuchengmen or
Take 931 at Pingguoyuan
During any visit to China, you will encounter tour guides with tales of ancient trees in temple courtyards. One of the finest examples must be the Jiulong Pine Tree (or Nine-Dragon Pine), found inside Jietai Temple and said to be over 1,300 years old.
Sleeping Buddha Temple
Add: Wofuosi Lu, Fragrant Hill, Haidian District
Tel: (010) 6259-1283
Buses: 318, 333, 360, 714, 737, 904, Te 5
Located on the eastern side of the Fragrant Hills, the temple was built in the 7th Century during the heyday of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 BC). It was enlarged in the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368) to accommodate a huge bronze reclining Buddha, cast in 1320 using 25,000 kg of bronze.
The 5.2-meter-long Sleeping Buddha is said to depict Sakyamuni, a founder of Buddhism. Surrounding it, 12 sculptures illustrate the mourning of Sakyamuni's 12 disciples.
Add: Tanzhe Mountain, Mentougou District
Tel: (010) 6086-2500
Buses: 307, 326, 336 and get off at Hetan station, change to a long distance bus or
931 or minibus at Pingguoyuan
The temple is built on a hillside and consists of various pavilions, prayer halls, courtyards and a group of pagodas dating from the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
Add: 7 Fayuansi Qianjie, Xuanwu District
Tel: (010) 6353-3966
Open: 8:30-11am, 1:30-3:30
Buses: 6, 50, 53, 61, 822, Te 5*
Literally, the temple's name means 'Origin of Buddhism' and indicates the importance of this place. First built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 BC), the temple is now the headquarters of the China Buddhism Association and China Buddhism College.
* Te means special