Tanzhe Temple

The Tanzhe Temple is a Buddhist temple, which is situated in the Western Hills, a mountainous area in west of Beijing. Once it has been one of the most well-known temples in Beijing. At one time, it was one of the most important temples in the nation. And the temple is located near China National Highway 108 in the Mentougou District of Beijing.

Tanzhe Temple was built in the Jin Dynasty, and it has an age of around 1,700 years. The area of the entire temple is 6.8 hectares, and its arrangement of halls is akin to that found in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Tanzhe Temple is one of the oldest temples in Beijing.

The temple means dragon pool and mulberry tree temple, due to its proximity to the Dragon Pool and the trees growing in the surrounding hills. From its 1,600 years, its name has changed on several occasions.

The most of the existing buildings in the temple are from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and there are pagodas from various historical periods such as the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The two "Emperor trees" by the Hall of Three Sages were planted during the Liao Dynasty about 1,000 years ago.

The spacious and imposing buildings are arranged in three main northsouth axes. Along the central axis are the Archway, the Front Gate, Deveraja Hall, Mahavira Hall and Vairochana Pavilion. And the temple's central hall is its Mahavira Hall-24 meters in length, 33 meters in wide. Buddhist monks regularly perform religious ceremony here.

The temple is divided between the Hall of Abstinence, the Ordination Altar and the Hall to Guanyin. The latter has received fame because of its association with princess Miaoyan, daughter of Kublai Khan. The princess is said to have entered the nunnery here in the 13th century. The indentations can be found on the stone on which she always knelt and prayed within the hall. Supposedly she was also buried within the temple compound.

At the right of the main courtyard lies a separate yard containing stone monuments built in different styles over a period of several centuries and housing the remains of eminent monks.

Tanzhe Temple also has some other features. The bed of its former Dragon Pool, which has dried up sits on the hill at the back of the temple. The zhe trees, now few in number, are located in the temple as well. Their number has dwindled shockingly from the original thousand or so. There are also persimmon trees, as well as a stand of bamboo.

Set in forested mountains to the west of Beijing, Tanzhe Temple is peaceful retreats in fresh mountain air, scented with burning incense. Charming and hardly changed for centuries, these temples are unusual in that they received imperial support, and both have long been popular with local pilgrims.