China // Beijing and around //

Yonghe Gong

Though it is a little touristy, the colourful Yonghe Gong, Tibetan Lama Temple (雍和宫, yōngghé gōng), is well worth a visit; it couldn’t be much easier to reach – Yonghe Gong subway stop is right next door. It was built towards the end of the seventeenth century as the residence of Prince Yin Zhen. In 1723, when the prince became the Emperor Yong Zheng and moved into the Forbidden City, the temple was retiled in imperial yellow and restricted thereafter to religious use. It became a lamasery in 1744, housing monks from Tibet and also from Inner Mongolia, over which it had a presiding role, supervising the election of the Mongolian Living Buddha, who was chosen by lot from a gold urn. After the civil war in 1949, the Yonghe Gong was declared a national monument and for thirty years was closed; remarkably, it escaped the ravages of the Cultural Revolution.