Yonghegong: Tibetan Lama Temple
To understand China, it's imperative to understand the role that religion and philosophy play in the culture. Buddhism has played a prominent role, and this gorgeous temple tells a bit of that story. The Yonghegong is on the North quarter of Beijing, and is easily accessible by bus or subway. Go late in the afternoon to avoid the early tour buses, and to catch some monks in the midst of their ceremonies.
By Sakhi Vyas
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Incense lit, prayers made for the upcoming year.
Discover Chinese Religious Practices in the City Center
This Tibetan Buddhist temple was once the residence of a Qing Emperor. It was converted into a lamasery after his ascension to the throne, and that Imperial connection is marked by use of yellow ceramic tiles on the rooftops. It is a working Buddhist temple, though one crowded by pilgrims—and plenty of tourists. You will see full religious expression here, with burning incense held high on the forehead, the supplicant bowing in each cardinal direction. Glittering statues, clattering prayer wheels, fragrant incense, grotesque statues overload the senses.
By Lisa Gay