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Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Beijing Attractions, Beijing Travel GuideThe Temple of the Reclining Buddha is also known as the Sleeping Buddha Temple, and is located in the Western Hills at the southern foot of Jubao (also called Shou' an) Mountain, about 20 kilometers from Beijing proper. The temple was first built during the Zhenguan period (627-249) of the Tang Dynasty, when it was also known as the Temple of Peaceful Longevity. In later periods it fell into ruin and was rebuilt and renamed several times. One of the last major renovations was completed in 1724. As early as the Tang Dynasty, the temple contained a sandalwood sculpture of the reclining Buddha. In 1330-1331 during the Yuan Dynasty, a large-scale bronze image of the Buddha attaining Nirvana was cast, and from that time on, the temple was popularly called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The famous bronze Buddha is more than five meters long, which required 250,000 kilograms of bronze and 7,000 laborers. It lies in a sleeping position, with one arm extended and the other propping up its head, and is surrounded by 12 smaller Buddha. According to legend, this scene represents the Buddha on his deathbed giving instructions to his 12 disciples, who are seated under a pair of sal (poluo) trees, which bloom in late spring or early summer. At very rear of the temple is a sutra repository built against a cliff. On the western side are rockeries, pavilions and mountain vegetation; all contribute to the beauty of the garden-like setting.

At the main entrance of the temple stands a glazed tile ornamental archway, and inside there do a bell tower and a drum tower flank a semi-circular pool. The temple compound is built on an enormous scale. Covered galleries and auxiliary halls to create a completely enclosed series of courtyards link four large halls aligned along the central axis.