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The Eight Temples are located in the east and north surrounding the Palace complex in the shape of numerous stars embosoming the moon, which symbolizes the unification of the nation and friendly relationships between the various nationalities in the country.
The temples stand in the north of the Great Wall and eight among them were governed directly by Lifan Court in Qing dynasty and registered in Beijing Lama Print Office, hence the name of Eight Outer Temples.
The Eight Temples are the embodiment of the combination of the Han and Tibetan art of architecture. They along with the Summer Palace was listed to the world Heritage site together in September, 1994.
The Eight Outer Temples actually refers to the historically existing 12 temples- the Boren Temple, Boshan Temple, Puning Temple, An'yuan Temple, Pule Temple, Puyou Temple, Putuozongcheng Temple, Guang'an Temple, Suxiang Temple, Luohan Hall (luohan, arahat in buddhist term), the temple for praying happiness and longevity and Kuixing Attic, but only 7 them are well preserved.. The Boshan Temple, Guang'an Temple and Kuixing Attic do not exist now, The Puyou Temple and Luohan Hall have suffered serious damage and only some parts remain.
The twelve temples were built during the heydays under the reign of the two emperor Qianlong and Kangxi successively with 67 years' effort to complete. The Boren Temple and Boshan Temple were set up during the emperor Kangxi's reign, while the other ten were completed during Emperor Qianlong period.
These temples were mainly used by the upper classes and dignitaries of the west and north minorities in China to have an audience with the emperor. The architecture mainly built in three manners: Tibetan style, Han style and the mixture of the two. These ornate majestic and resplendent temples are sharp contrasts to the palace complex of its primitive simplicity with green bricks and grey tiles.
The Eight Temples are ethereal examples of combination of the Han building style and Tibetan building art. Putuozongcheng Temple, largest one in scale, was a replica of the the Potala Palace in Tibet and is nicknamed "the Little Potala".
It was constructed for the purpose of celebrating Emperor Qianlong's 60th birthday and his mother's 80th birthday. The temple is magnificent and spectacular with clinquant gold-plates and copper tiles. Chengde tops the world in many aspects.
Take Puning Temple for example, there is the largest woodcarving figure of Buddha---the Kwan-yin Bodhisattva with a thousand hands in the world-wide in its Dacheng Attic. The statue of the woodcaring Buddha is 22.28 meters in height and 110 tons in weight. It was carved with the wood of pines, sypresses, elms, basses and firry lumbers.