Temple of the Azure Clouds

Temple of the Azure Clouds, Beijing Attractions, Beijing Travel GuideThe Temple of the Azure Clouds is situated in the eastern part of the Western Hills, just outside the north gate of Xiangshan Park. The temple buildings are on the gradually sloping hillside and, from the temple's main gate at the foot of the hill to the highest point, rise almost 100 meters.

The temple was first built in the early 14th century and named the Nunnery of the Azure Clouds. The temple was expanded in 1516 during the Ming Dynasty and again in 1748 in the Qing dynasty under the reign of Emperor Qianlong, who added the Hall of Arhats, containing 500 Buddha statues. He also erected the main temple building, known as the Diamond Throne Pagoda, a towering Indian "stupa" ringed with miniature stupas. Even in modern days the temple has seen active use. When Dr. Sun Yat Sen died in 1925 his coffin was briefly on display here before being moved to Nanjing, but a permanent memorial hall remains at Azure Clouds.

At the time of the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, the temple buildings were in a state of disrepair. In 1954, the temple was rebuilt and renovated, including the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

Temple of the Azure Clouds, Beijing Attractions, Beijing Travel GuideThe temple was built on six different levels, and each of the interconnecting courtyards has a special character. The most famous buildings inside the temple, however, are the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the Five Hundred Arhats Hall and the Vajra Throne Tower. A stone-paved road leads from the front gate of Fragrant Hills Park directly to the entrance gate of the temple. The gate of Azure Clouds which is faced by the stone lions is called the Mountain Gate. A brook runs outside the temple and passes before the gate of the park. On both sides of this temple are two Buddhist guardians which were carved during the Ming Dynasty and each being five meters in height. Inside the first compound are the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, while in the center stands the Heavenly Kings Hall, which houses a bronze image of Maitreya Buddha cast in the Ming Dynasty. A goldfish pond in this courtyard is surrounded by ancient trees, white-bark sandalwood trees and gingko trees.