Beijing Jietai Temple
Jietai Temple is among the many tourist sites in Beijing. It is located about 25 kilometers from the center of Beijing in the Ma'an mountain. Tourists can find preserved cultural relics like the stone columns and stone tablets with carvings of Buddhist scriptures from the Liao Dynasty.
The Making of the Ordination Altar
Jietai Temple was built during Wude's reign in the Tang Dynasty. It was first called Huiju Temple that means the temple of accumulating wisdom. It was renovated by Monk Fajun in the 11th century during the Xianyong Period in the Liao Dynasty. It became an ordination altar.
Since then, Jietai Temple has underwent several destruction and renovations. A number of the remaining buildings seen at the temple now are from the Qing Dynasty. The name Jietai Temple was taken from the famous Ming marble ordination altar. The altar stands about 16 feet high, and it is adorned with exquisite and delicate carvings.
Jietai Temple Features
The Natural and Architectural Attractions
Jietai Temple is a multi-courtyard complex. It has five main buildings that include Mahavira Hall, Tianwang Hall, Sanxian Hall, Qinafo Hall and Jiuxian Hall. Surrounding these halls are rock formations and ancient ornaments and trees.
Famous Ancient Trees and Ornaments
The most common species are cypress, pine and Japanese pagoda trees. The temple also has a 250-year old lilac bush. Another famous tree is Nine Dragon that looks like a flying dragon as its nine branches twist upwards.
Other trees that surround Jietai Temple have been given unique names like Leisure Pine or Zi Zan, Sleeping Dragon or Wo Long, and Embracing Pagoda or Bao Ta. A mysterious tree called Trembling Pine or Hou Dong is said to tremble when only one branch is touched.
These ancient trees are top attractions for both domestic and foreign tourists. These trees actually made the temple very popular. These old trees are considered to be protectors of Buddhism. There is a total of 88 national ancient trees preserved all over the temple.
The Ordination Altar
There is a three-story wooden altar in the main hall. There are steps connecting the lower and the upper sections. The finely carved image of Buddha that measures a little less than one hundred feet in height covers a wall in the compound’s northwest section where the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas stands.
Visitors can also find a Jin Dynasty stela and a Liao Dynasty stupa. Additionally, there are many stone pillars carved with Buddhist sutra texts that are preserved in almost perfect condition. Ceremonies are conducted at the ordination altar to commemorate the ascension of devotees to monkhood.
Jietai Temple Religious Activities
Lucky tourists can witness religious activities at the temple that are usually held the first and 15th day of every month in the lunar calendar. They call these religious activities Buddhist Days. This has been permitted by the government since 1997.
Outside Jietai Temple
On the other hand, people who are not fond of temples may simply enjoy the beauty of Jietai Temple from the outside. There are abundant mystic natural views and colorful customs. Tourists can take pictures of the smaller hall houses with stunning small wooden altars. They are decorated with dragons.
Jietai Temple Nearby Attractions
Tanzhe Temple is just a few minutes away from Jietai Temple. It is also a religious place, and it is a lot bigger than Jietai Temple. It is located approximately 25 km west of Beijing. Tanzhe Temple is a Buddhist complex that was built during the 3rd century.
Talin Temple is also located in Tanzhe. Many visitors drop by before or after their tour to Jietai Temple. The temple is open the whole year round. However, opening and closing times may vary depending on the season.
Chuandixia should not be missed when visiting Jietai Temple. This tourist attraction is located around 90 km west of Beijing. This place provides serenity and peacefulness for those who set foot there. The village has a lot of historic homes, bounteous orchards, hillsides and alleys.
Another great attraction in Chuandrixia is a museum that features Maoist graffiti. Terraced areas are available for pictures with the natural view as the backdrop.
Eastern Qing Tombs
Eastern Qing Tombs are famous for being the resting place of 14 empresses, over 100 imperial escorts and five emperors. The surrounding areas also served as burial sites for dukes, princes and other great people in the history of Beijing. Emperor Qianlong's tomb is the grandest among all, and it contains 100 tons of silver.
Visiting the Ming Tombs should be a part of any itinerary for Beijing trip. This is the resting place for the 13 most powerful emperors in the Ming Dynasty. Their tombs are beautifully crafted with large halls, decorations and interconnected vaults. The Ming Tombs is a great place to complete a historic trip to Beijing.
I updated this article on November 6, 2013
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