Lama Temple, also called Yonghe Palace, is the largest and best preserved lamasery in Beijing. Constructed in 1964, it once was the
residence of Emperor Yongzheng (the third emperor of Qing dynasty). After the death of Emperor Yongzheng, it was converted into
lamasery in 1744 and so Yonghe Palace became the national center of Lama administration.
Occupied an area of 66,400 square meter, Lama Temple is comprised of torii, Grand Hall, Yongyou Hall, Falun Hall and Hall of
Boundless Happiness. It is dotted with screen wall with carved murals and decorated archways. The interior pavement leads to the
main halls. The evergreen pine and cypress add the peaceful and secluded atmosphere. The Yonghe Palace with the distinctive ethnic
characteristics of Manchuria, Han, Mongolia and Tibet has the highest rank in China.
The following details describe the main building inside Lama Temple.
At the south courtyard stand three high monuments, a huge screen wall and two stone lions. Passed through monuments, a
pavement leads you to Zhaotai Gate (the gate of Lama Palace) in the north. Inside the gate stand Bell Tower and Drum Tower on both
sides. A huge copper pan by the side of Drum Tower weighs 8 tons which was used to cook La Ba Congee (eaten on the eightn day of
the twelfth lunar month). To the north is an octagonal tablet which describes the history of Lama Temple.
Grand Hall once was the place which was used to receive civil and military officials. In the north of the hall shrine three 2-meter-high
sculptures of Buddha. They are Sakyamuni, Medicine Guru Buddha and Amita Buddha. North of Grand Hall is Yongyou Hall which is
the location for lamas for reading scriptures and holding Buddhist ceremonies. In the center of the hall is a Buddha which was carved
out of sandalwood.
In center of Falun Hall is a Buddha with the height of 6.1 meters which is the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa. This bronze
statue was completed in 1924 and cost 200,000 silver dollars. Behind the Tsongkhapa is an Arhat Hill containing 500 Arhats all
elaborately carved out of padauk.
There is another spectacular in Hall of Boundless Happiness, i.e. the sculpture of Maitreya that is 18 meter high and about 8 meters
is below the ground.
Now the Lama Palace is an important heritage site under state protection.