The Eight Outer Temples
Outside the surrounding wall of the Mountain Resort of Chengde in Hebei Province, there is an orderly array of eight brilliant and golden temples, namely the Eight Outer Temples. It is located in the east and north surrounding the Palace complex in the shape of numerous stars embosoming the moon, which symbolizes the unification of the nation and friendly relationships between the various nationalities in the country.
The Eight Temples are the embodiment of the combination of the Han and Tibetan art of architecture, along with the Summer Palace was listed to the world Heritage site together in 1994. They are actually refers to the historically existing 12 temples, including the Boren Temple, Boshan Temple, Puning Temple, Anyuan Temple, Pule Temple, Puyou Temple, Putuozongcheng Temple, Guang'an Temple, Suxiang Temple, Luohan Hall (luohan, arahat in buddhist term), the temple for praying happiness and longevity and Kuixing Attic.
However, only 7 of the 12 temples are well preserved. The Boshan Temple, Guang'an Temple and Kuixing Attic do not exist now, The Puyou Temple and Luohan Hall have suffered serious damage and only some parts remain.
The formation of the Eight Outer Temples is our miniature motherland. Replicas of the Sanmoye Temple by the bank of the Yalutsangpo River, the Putala Palace in the upper Tibet, the Jashilumbu Monastery in the lower Tibet, and the Guerzha Temple in Yili, representative of China's southwest and northwest border areas, have appeared here. Shuxiang Temple on the Wutai Mountain, and the Hall of Arhats in the Anguo Temple in Haining County, represent Northern and Southern China.
These Temples in Tibetan, Mongolian as well as the Han architectural styles, are not just a simple imitation, but a new creation. For example, the Dacheng Tower of the Puning Temple is an imitation of the main hall of the Sanmoye Temple with the upper story in Indian style, middle story in the style of inland China and lower story in Tibetan style.
However, the imitated Dacheng Tower here is all in the style of inland China, except the two sides of the lower story which retain a little characteristics of a Tibetan blockhouse, and the five upturned corner roofs of Sanmoye style. The Xumifushouzhi Temple differs greatly from the Jashilumbu Monastery, but its red platform, gilded cupola and the shape are very much in the style of the Monastery.
History and Culture
The twelve temples were built during the heydays under the reign of the two emperors Qianlong and Kangxi successively with 67 years' effort to complete. The Boren Temple and Boshan Temple were set up during the emperor Kangxi's reign, while the other ten were completed during Emperor Qianlong period.
These temples were mainly used by the upper classes and dignitaries of the west and north minorities in China to have an audience with the emperor. The architecture mainly built in three manners: Tibetan style, Han style and the mixture of the two. These ornate majestic and resplendent temples are sharp contrasts to the palace complex of its primitive simplicity with green bricks and grey tiles.
The Eight Temples are ethereal examples of combination of the Han building style and Tibetan building art. Putuozongcheng Temple, largest one in scale, was a replica of the Potala Palace in Tibet and is nicknamed "the Little Potala".
Eight Outer Temples
This was built in 1755 and is home to the world’s tallest wooden sculpture of Buddha that is 21.85 meters in height and 110 tons in weight. The sculpture depicts Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara avatar of Buddha. This temple is spread in an area of 23,000 square meters.
Putuo Zongcheng Temple
This is the biggest and most magnificent of all the temples. Modeled after the Potala Palace of the Tibet, this is also fondly called as the “Little Potala Palace”. It is spread in an area of 220,000 square meters and has 60 halls of various types. Emperor Qianlong had built this temple for the then Dalai Lama, but Dalai Lama never saw this temple.
This temple was built in 1756 when Emperor Qianlong wanted to suppress the Zhuge’er’s tribe’s rebellion in Xinjiang. To pacify the rebels, emperor ordered the construction of Anyuan Temple also known as Ili Temple.
This temple lies in the east of the Puning Temple. The temple is in a dilapidated condition mainly because of a fire in 1964. However, restoration work is on.
Xumi Fushouzhi Temple
This temple was built in 1779 and has very interesting history. The sixth Panchan Lama wanted to visit Emperor Qianlong on his birthday to join the celebrations there. When the emperor came to know about this news, he immediately ordered to build Xumi Fushouzhi Temple, which acted as the Lama’s residence during his stay to honor the Lama. Although it took a year to built this temple, the Lama could spend only one month and three days here.
This temple was built in 1766. Though this was built on a flat ground, its views included the scenic mountains. Featuring an amalgamation of Chinese and Tibetan style architecture, this temple lies in an area of 24,000 square meters.
20~50 yuan / person
1 Within Chengde, you can take bus NO. 5 (which can be boarded either at Chengde Railway Station or at the Commuter Bus Hub Station) to the Mountain Resort of Chengde, then transfer to bus No. 6 to the Eight Outer Temples.
2 From Beijing, you can take the Beijing-Chengde regional bus, which departs from the center of Beijing every 10 minutes. Alternatively, from Beijing you can take train N211 to Chengde, which runs about 4 hours.
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