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Fayuansi Temple

Gate of Fayuansi with stone lionsFayuansi (Temple of the Origin of Dharma), the oldest Buddhist temple in Beijing proper, is situated in Xuanwu District. It was first built in 645 by order of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty (61 8-907) to commemorate his generals and soldiers who died in the battle against the northern State of Liao. At the time Fayuansi was called Minzhongsi (Temple in Memory of the Loyal). The temple's present name dates from 1730s, bestowed by the Qing Emperor Yongzheng during his reign period. The Chinese Institute of Buddhist Studies and the China Buddhist Relics Library now occupy the temple.


Fayuansi consists of six courtyards with such major buildings as gate, Bell and Drum Towers, Tianwang-dian (Hall of Heavenly Kings), Daxiongbaodian (Shrine of Greatness and Mag-nificence), Minzhongtai (Platform in Memory of the Loyal), Jingyetang (Hall of Pure Karma) and Cangjinglou (Sutra Tower).

Fayuansi houses a number of valuable cultural relics. In the middle of Daxiongbaodian are enshrined the Holy Triad of the the copper lion in the front of Tianwan palace in FayuansiHuayan Sect - Vairo-cana, Samantabhadra and Manjusri. The gilded clay figures with beautiful workmanship and respectable appearances were masterpieces of the sculptures of the Ming Dynasty, which are quite rare in temples in Beijing. In addition, there are also many fine examples of stele, stone carvings, stone pillars inscribed with Buddhist sutras and plaques inscribed in the calligraphy of emperors, all dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Among them is the extremely precious Record of Events of the Fayuansi inscribed in 1734, which states the history of Fayuansi.

The Fayuansi was famous in history. When Emperor Qinzong of the Northern Song Dynasty was captured by troops of the Jin Dynasty, he was imprisoned here. And Xie Fangde, a loyal official of the Southern Song Dynasty who refused to surrender to the Yuan army, starved himself to death in this temple.

In the past, Fayuansi was so famed for its lilac gardens and also known as the Xiangxuehai (Sea of Fragrant Snow). During the Qing Dynasty, the monks would hold vegetarian banquets in every spring, and the temple served as a gathering place for celebrities and poets to party and compose poems among the fragrance of blooming lilac. The thick perfume of the lilac still makes visitors intoxicated today.


Fayuansi Tour

Fayuansi is very near to Niu Street where is famous for the snacks in Beijing. After the tour to Fayuansi, travelers could enjoy some delicious Beijing snacks in Niu Street.