White Cloud Temple (Baiyun Taoist Temple)
Being one of the three "ancestral courts" of the Quanzhen Sect of Taoism, White Cloud Temple is located on the east side of Baiyun Road, Fuxingmenwai Street, Xicheng District. It was built in 739 and went through three big renovations – in 1706, 1714 and 1886. The architecture of White Cloud Temple seen today is mainly from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. The Center of the Chinese Taoist Association, founded in 1958, is also located in the temple. Nowadays, White Cloud Temple attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. The Spring Festival Fair and celebration at it is also a wonderful place to find out about Chinese culture and tradition.
White Cloud Temple has various halls which house the gods of Taoism. The buildings complex, arranged generally in a straight line, can be divided into three groups, the middle section, the east section and the west section. At the back you will find a beautiful garden.
The Middle Section
The middle section of White Cloud Temple includes the main buildings which contain over 50 halls, spanning an area of about 2 hectares. You enter the grounds through a gate in the outside wall and then walk through the large gateway that leads to the gate. Beyond the gate are Wofeng Bridge, Lingguan Hall, Yuhuang Hall, Qiuzu Hall, and other buildings.
The stone gate has three portals, delicately engraved with clouds, cranes, and flowers. The monkey hidden in reliefs beside the middle portal deserves a mention here: it is said that the monkey is the incarnation of a god; thus, visitors to it always touch the monkey for good luck. There are three stone monkeys located at different places in it. If you are interested, go and search for them. It is believed that if you have touched all three monkeys your wishes will come true.
Entering the gate, you will see a single-span stone bridge named Wofeng Bridge (Wofeng means stopping the wind). A copper coin is hung on both sides of the bridge and in the square hole of the coin there is a bell. What is the reason for this? People believe that if the coin they tossed hits the bell, everything will go well for them in the coming year. Come and have a try, and good luck will follow you.
Walking across the bridge, Lingguan Hall is the first hall that you will see. Lingguan Hall houses Wang Lingguan, the guarding deity of Taoism. The wooden statue of the god was sculptured during the Ming Dynasty, and is about 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) high, radiating an air of dignity and grandeur. As you walk on, you will see other halls.
Yuhuang Hall (the Jade Emperor Hall) is where the Jade Emperor is worshiped. The 1.8 meter (5.9 feet) high wooden statue was also carved during the Ming Dynasty. To the right and left of the statue of the Jade Emperor are six bronze statues – they are the emperor’s officers and servants. Paintings on the wall were drawn during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Laolu Hall (Laolu means commandments), originally named Qizhen Hall (Qizhen refers to seven people), is the place where the seven disciples of the founder of the Quanzhen Sect of Taoism are worshiped. In the Qing Dynasty, a famous Taoist lectured here on the subject of Taoism and commandments, thus the hall acquired its new name. Religious activities are held in Laolu Hall, and it is also the place where people gather to chant Taoist sutras.
Qiuzu Hall is dedicated to Qiu Chuji, the founder of the Longmen branch of the Quanzhen sect. At the center of the hall is a huge wooden bowl which was granted by the Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty. It is said that when Taoists in it suffered from famine, they would carry the bowl to the Imperial Palace to ask for help. After Qiu Chuji’s death, his ashes were buried under the bowl. Inscriptions on the tablets in the hall record important events in the history of it.
Among all the halls, only one hall has two floors. The first floor is dedicated to the god Sanqing and on the second floor four other gods – the main assistants of the Jade Emperor – are worshiped. In front of the hall, a gilded copper incense burner is seated. It was cast in the Ming Dynasty and is delicately engraved with 43 dragons.
The West Section
In the west section you will find the statue of the divine animal Te, Citang Hall, Baxian Hall, Luzu Hall and other halls.
The statue of the divine animal Te will greet you when you enter the west section. Te has a mule's body, a donkey's face, the ears of a horse and the hooves of a cow. Legend has it that Te can cure any illness. If a person is unwell, he could touch his own body where he feels discomfort or sickness and then touch the same part of Te, and he will recover from the disease and be cured.
Citang Hall, built in 1706, is where the statue of the Taoist Wang Changyue is housed. Inscriptions carved in the stone in the wall are the treasure of it.
The East Section
You will find Sanxing Hall, Cihang Hall, Zhenwu Hall and Leizu Hall in the east section of the grounds. Sanxing Hall is the hall dedicated to the great doctor Hua Tuo who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220); Cihang Hall is the place of worship for the God of Fire; Zhenwu Hall is where God Zhenwu is housed; and Leizu Hall is where the gods who master the changing of the weather are worshiped.
Yunji Garden is at the back of White Cloud Temple. In the center of the garden is the altar, where commandments and rules are taught, and Yunji Hall where Taoist sutras are preached.
|Admission Fee:||CNY 10|
|Opening Hours:||May - Sep.: 8:30--16:30 |
Oct. - Apr.: 8:30--16:00
How to get to White Cloud Temple
2. Take bus 9, 26, 40, 47, 50, 80, 339, Te 14 or Yuntong 102, and then get off at Tianningsi Qiaoxi Station. After that, walk south for about 5 minutes to the temple.
Beijing Bus / Subway Search
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