In the northeastern part of Beijing stands Yonghe
Lamasery, a Yellow Hat Tibetan lamasary and one of the city’s finest
and most celebrated temples. Its 5 main halls and many galleries
are filled with exquisitely detailed tanka paintings and beautifully
carved or cast Buddha images.
The buildings encompass the Han, Mongol, Manchu
and Tibetan architectural styles and the brilliance of the blue,
green and gold detail on the sharp red pagodas is simply stunning.
The intricacy of the decoration is impressive, but the temple is
renown for its "3 matchless treasures". These include
an 18 meter (60ft) sandalwood Maitreya Buddha statue sculpted from
a single tree, a niche of Buddha carved from the nanmu tree and
the "mountain of 500 arhats" made from precious stones
Originally a palace for Prince Yongzheng, following tradition, it was transformed into a temple after he became the Qing’s third emperor in 1725. The temple was enlarged under emperor Qianlong, and at one point housed more than 1,500 resident monks.