The Tanzhe Temple (literally ”temple of pool and Cudrania”) is located in Mount Tanzhe in the western suburb of Beijing. It was built in AD 307, the first year of Yongjia in the Western Jin Dynasty, right after the introduction of Buddhism in Beijing. It was named the Temple of Bliss then. Because Buddhism was not widely accepted by people at that time, the Tanzhe Temple was relatively small in size and simple in structure. It was not until the Qing Dynasty, during the reign of of Emperor Kangxi, that the temple was renovated and enlarged. Emperor Kangxi gave the temple a new poetic name, the Xiuyun Temple (literally “the temple of cloud above the hills”), but folks rather prefered to call it the Tanzhe Temple as there was a pool in the backyard of the temple and a large amount of Cudrania trees covering Mount Tanzhe.

The Tanzhe Temple is very large in size, with a building area of 2.5 hectares, and a total area of 11.2 hectares. The layout of the temple is well-arranged and neat. Just like other ancient Chinese complex, the temple is bilateral symmetric. You can see almost the same formation on each side along the central axis. It is said that the layout of the Tanzhe Temple was so perfect that the Forbidden City adopted some of its characteristics. Now there are 943 small buildings in the temple, including halls, pavilions, towers, and houses. 638 buildings among them were built in the Ming and Qing Dynasty, representing the typical architectural style of that age.

Many famous attractions also distribute on Mount Tanzhe, such as the Tayuan Temple, the Guanyin Cave, the Longevity Hall, and the Dragon Pool. You can stop by them during your trip to the temple since they surround the temple closely. The Tanzhe Temple, together with the attractions around it, is one of the largest complexs of historical and cultural values in the suburban area of Beijing.

Apart from its magnificent architectures, the temple is enriched with natural beauty, too. The natural landscape inside and around it changes along with the season, comprising the 10 Miraculous Scenes of the Tanzhe Temple. When you visit it in spring, you can enjoy the Scene of Qianfenggongcui, literally “a world covered by verdant carpets”. In summer, you can experience the Scene of Wanheduiyun, literally “a tide of cloud” if you are lucky enough. This scene occurs before the afternoon rain of summer in Beijing. The dark cloud will suddenly appear and block out the sun, creating an impressive view before rain. In autumn, you can see the amazing scene of Pingyuanhongye, literally “a sea of red leaves”. Mount Tanzhe during that period of time is so red that it looks like it is on fire. And in winter, the Scene of JingpingXuelang, literally “ a snowy wave”, will definitely take your breath away.  Many famous painters in Chinese history were attracted by these gorgeous scenes. They visited the Tanzhe Temple often, and painted them with their skillful brushes. Some of their works have become invaluable artworks today.

The Tanzhe Temple Attractions

The Tanzhe Temple Monastery

The Two Treasures of the Tanzhe Temple

The Ancient Road of Lutan

The Tanzhe Temple Story

How was the Tanzhe Temple built?

According to the folk legend, the establishment of the Tanzhe Temple is closely related to a Buddhist senior monk named Huayan. It is said that monk Huayan was a profound and brilliant Buddhist master in the Western Jin Dynasty. He lived in the city of Youzhou, which is now part of Beijing. Many of his believers then hoped that he could have his own temple and establish his own denomination. So they raised money for Monk Huanyan to build a new temple voluntarily. However, when they raised enough funds, they found that they had no place to build the temple. To solve the problem, Monk Huayan went to visit the mayor of Youzhou, and asked him for land. He told the mayor that he had already found an ideal place for the temple, which is on the Mount Tanzhe today. The mayor thought for a while and replied, “ That piece of land is owned by landlord Jiang and Liu. I cannot make the decision for them. You have to persuade them into giving you the land“. The mayor then invited the two landlords to his place. The two landlords were very unwilling to give Monk Huayan the land he wanted, but they dared not to say it directly to the face of the mayor. So they asked Monk Huayan, “How much land do you need to build your temple?”. Monk Huayan replied, “I just want a land that is the same size to my pouf”. The two landlords were very happy to learn that he only wanted such as small piece of land, so they agreed to give him the land for free immediately. They signed a contract and sealed the deal.

Right after that, Monk Huayan smiled to the two landlords, and took out his pouf. He then threw the pouf into the air. And the most miraculous thing happened: the pouf became larger and larger. In a while, the pouf was large enough to cover several hills. The two stingy landlords were so afraid that they cried out, “No! No! That is enough!” . Monk Huayan stopped the pouf’s growing. He not only got enough land to build the temple, but also punished the two miserly landlords. With the money and the land, Monk Huayan built his own temple, the Tanzhe temple, and established his own denomination, the Huayan.

Jack Li

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