Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lama Temple and...

...Ditan Park

Or Cultural Outing

Often described as Beijing most spectacular temple complex and one of the largest in China, the Temple of Heaven or Yong1 He2 Gong1 雍和宫was constructed in 1694 and was originally the home of Qing Dynasty Prince Yong before he became the Emperor Yong Zheng in 1723 and moved to the Forbidden City. It was converted into a Tibetan lamasery in 1744 and became home to monks from Mongolia and Tibet. It has 5 main halls each taller and more impressive than the preceding one with the highlight being a 17-meter/55-foot high (with an extra 6m/20ft below ground) statue of Maitreya (the Future Buddha) in his Tibetan form (clothed in yellow satin). It was carved from a single block of white sandalwood given by the Dalai Lama to Emperor Qianlong in 1750 (It took 3 years to ship it from Nepal to Beijing). The building that houses this Buddha was in fact erected after the statue was carved.

Tower of Ten Thousand Happinesses (Wan4Fu2 Ge2)

One of the Hall and a Wheel of Prayer

View from Above and Maitreya Buddha
(Scan of Postcards - photographs are forbidden)

Ditan Park (地坛公园 – Di4Tan2Gong1Yuan2) was named after the Temple of Earth (Di Tan 地坛) which was the venue for Imperial sacrifices to the Earth God. The altar is square shaped, symbolizing the earth. Under the Ming dynasty, five main altars were established at the city’s cardinal points:

  • ­ Tian Tan 天坛 (Temple of Heaven) in the South,
  • ­ Di Tan 地坛 (Temple of Earth) in the North,
  • ­ Ri Tan 日坛 (Temple of the Sun) in the East (not far from where we live)
  • ­ Yue Tan 月坛 (Temple of the Moon) in the West and,
  • ­ Shejie Tan 射杰坛 (Temple of Land and Grain) in the center

The Altar and the Trees are ready for Chinese New Year

Transience Calligraphy

Sources: Lonely planet, National Geographic, Frommers, Eyewitness Travel Guides and Insider’s Guide