Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Built in 307 AD, this temple is about 1700 years old and is located in the western suburbs of Beijing and has undergone many name changes.

During the Tang Dynasty, it was renamed Longquan Temple, and during the Kangxi Dynasty, it was extensively renovated under the name of Xuyun Temple. However, the temple has a very high status in the eyes of Beijingers, and is known as Tanzhe Temple.

This temple in China's many temples and inconspicuous, and occupy a small area, but the door is sometimes armed police stand guard, it is what is outstanding?

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

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Tanzhe Temple is built on top of a mountain, facing south, surrounded by nine peaks. The overall layout moves with the mountain, and when it was built, the shrine was the main building, in the center.

In later developments, the Qing dynasty had the largest expansion project, building a courtyard on the left and right side of the main center and extending along the road.

It is said that Tanzhe Temple was established in the Jin and Tang dynasties, but there is no record of the structure of the temple, and it was only in the Jin dynasty that there is a little record of the fact that it was a huge building that required a decade of construction.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

When the Japanese Zen master Deshi Wuchu arrived in China during the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty, Ming Emperor Chengzu Zhu Di appointed him to be the abbot of Longquan Temple and spent a great deal of money to renovate the temple. In the spring of the first year of Xuande Wushen in the late Ming Dynasty, he entered Yanjing and built an area on the right side of Longquan Temple, which was used to decorate the temple's main hall.

Afterwards, the Da Ming Zhengde six years, in Hongzhi ten years, Dai company gift came to Tanzhe Temple, the monk said, "Here is an ancient temple named Longquan, age." Dai Gong asked the court for a bounty with the accumulated grain and wages, so that the temple and the hall were renewed.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

From Kangxi onwards, the emperors and harem consorts of the Qing dynasty were also quite kind to Tanzhe Temple, and some of the buildings were renovated, and as Tanzhe Temple gained fame, various incense meetings and donations from folk were also increasing, and some of the deeds of folk donations were erected as inscriptions.

During the Republic of China, Tanzhe Temple basically maintained the style of the late Qing Dynasty. Only a lot of the temple names and roles have changed. in 1956, Tanzhe Temple was taken over by the Beijing Garden Administration and has become a tourist attraction in Beijing since then. It has actually changed a lot from the beginning of its establishment to the present.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Tanzhe Temple, a royal monastery

The most important turning point in the fate of Tanzhe Temple was the Tang Dynasty. During the Wu Zetian period, Zen Master Hua Yan, with the assistance of Zhang Renwan, the governor of Youzhou, expanded the temple and renamed it Longquan Temple. The temple was destroyed when Emperor Wu of the Tang Dynasty "exterminated Buddhism", and it was not until the Five Dynasties and the Later Tang Dynasty that the temple was restored to prosperity.

In the first year of the Jin Dynasty, Emperor Jin Xizong came here to worship the Buddha and funded the construction of a large Wanshou Temple. Jin Zhangzong also came here to enjoy the birds, and built a small temple in his residence, named "Jie'er An".

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

In the thirteenth century, Myo-Yen, daughter of Kublai, prayed to the Buddha statue every day, year after year, in order to atone for her father's sins, and her feet left deep footprints on the ground. After her death, Princess Miao Yan was buried in the pagoda in front of the temple and the 18-meter-tall Miao Yan Venerable Pagoda was built.

Early Ming dynasty, assisted Zhu Di "pacification" to seize the throne of Yao Guangxiao, once resigned from his official position to Tanzhe Temple to dive into training, Zhu Di was personally to Tanzhe Temple to visit his late friend. Later, Empress Xiaocheng of Emperor Xuanzong, the mother of Emperor Shenzong, the Empress Dowager Cisheng, etc., have invested a lot of money in Tanzhe Temple.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

To the Qing Dynasty, the Qing government attached great importance to Tanzhe Temple, three generations of emperors Kangxi, Qianlong three emperors made a special trip to visit here.

In particular, Kangxi, Qianlong, several times funded the restoration of Tanzhe Temple, I am personally living in the temple, it can be said that the development of Tanzhe Temple to its heyday, Yongzheng will be a large number of their own ink treasures given to Tanzhe Temple.

The Qing dynasty attached greater importance to Tanzhe Temple, Kangxi three times to Tanzhe Temple, and personally dispatched Zhenhuan monk to preside over Tanzhe Temple, appointed as "barrister", and allocated 10,000 taels of silver, repairing the temple. In the 36th year of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, the temple was given the name "Xiuyun".

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Yongzheng, who did not always go out, also went to Tanzhe Temple to pay homage to Buddha. Qianlong emperor likes to travel and play in the mountains, inscriptions around, he also followed his grandfather to Tanzhe Temple, each time will get a generous reward, will also send a plaque, couplets, utensils, etc., the Qianlong twenty-sixth year, he also gave a gold amulet, and the abbot walked in together.

Influenced by the previous emperor, the consort, princes and ministers have to Tanzhe Temple pilgrimage, visit, and monks together to participate in meditation, chanting scriptures. Tanzhe Temple east of the Yanqing Pavilion, Liu Cup Pavilion, Palace, etc. are built to meet the emperor and the Empress Dowager, so Tanzhe Temple is known as the "world's first temple".

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

And the locals call Tanzhe Temple "Sorry"! According to the practice of the Qing Dynasty, Tanzhe Temple is the territory of Wanping County, but Tanzhe Temple is disdainful of the sixth-ranking officials. During the Guangxu period, a new county magistrate to Tanzhe Temple "worship", but the abbot refused to show up, just send the guest monk to deal with.

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Tanzhe Temple became involved with the warlords again, and Zhang Zuolin and Wu Peifu were honored as guests. Whenever Wu Pei Fu had a birthday, on the second day of the third month of the lunar calendar, the old monks would personally congratulate him at his door. After Wu Pei Fu's passing, Abbot Pure Moon went to Tanzhe Temple personally for Wu Pei Fu and conducted the Thirteen Great Confessions for him.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

precious object

There are many treasures in Tanzhe Temple, one of which is a stone fish that hangs in front of the Dragon Palace on the west side of the Guanyin Temple. It hangs under the corridor eaves of the Dragon King's Hall and makes a crisp ringing sound when struck.

The stone fish is one meter and a half in length and weighs one hundred and fifty kilograms. Because of the metal content in the stone, it makes a very pleasant sound, and legend has it that the stone fish is a national treasure of the Dragon Palace in the South China Sea, and the Dragon King dedicated it to the Jade Emperor.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Every year, a great drought occurs and a plague breaks out. His Majesty the Jade Emperor sends down a stone fish, which the monks hang in the Dragon King's hall, and there are thirteen stone fish, each representing a province in which a drought occurs, and it rains. Rumor has it that people who are sick and have headaches can be cured by knocking on the stomach of the fish.

Another superb piece is the large copper pot of Tanzhe Temple. In the east side of the Temple, there is a room, the kitchen has a diameter of 1.85 meters of bronze cauldron. This is the monks cooking with the "small pot", while the other two large pots, is more than three meters wide, more than two meters deep.

The magic of this pot is that it can separate the sand from the rice when cooking, all the sand, will fall into a groove in the pot, this is the so-called "no leakage of rice". Legend has it that Tanzhe Temple once had "three thousand monks, no name monk", "come without refusing, go without staying", so it is clear that the capacity of this pot is large.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

In front of the pavilion is a courtyard in which two strange trees are planted. One is an "imperial tree", which is more than 40 meters high and four meters in diameter, requiring six people to hug it, and is said to be a relic of the Liao Dynasty with the imperial seal of Gan Long engraved on it.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

It is said that whenever the emperor of the Qing Dynasty ascended to the throne, new branches would grow out from its roots and gradually merge with its branches. Every time an emperor died, a branch would be broken off, and after more than a thousand years, the branches flourished and came to life, making it an incomparable treasure.

Later, the ancients planted a ginkgo tree on the west side, named "Matching King Tree", more than 30 meters high, later known as "Gongsun Tree".

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

On the east side, there is a pavilion called the Pavilion of Flowing Cups, with a horizontal plaque of "Apricot Pavilion" inscribed by Qianlong himself. The spring enters the ditch and comes out through a curved trough. The trough in the cup pavilion is about 10 cm wide, and legend has it that the ancients put their wine cups in the pond and the cups float with the water, sitting in different places to drink a cup of wine.

In Beijing, there are five each in the Forbidden City, Zhongnanhai, Yuanmingyuan (the original site), Tanzhe Temple, and Gongwangfu. Among them, the Tanzhe Temple Flowing Cup Pavilion and Zhongnanhai Water Sound are the most famous.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Another fine piece is the construction of the roof of the Daxiongbao Hall, with the two huge glazed cat kisses in the middle being particularly conspicuous. The "scops kiss" is one of the nine legendary dragons that were used to build houses to prevent fire.

According to the legend, the temple has no foundation but a deep pool called "Sea Eye", in which there is a giant dragon that comes to listen to the sermons of the Elder Huayan every day.

One day, Tam Long wanted to open the mountain to build a temple, after a rainstorm, the water pool turned into a large open space, Tam Long got out of the water and hid in the water pool in the back of the mountain.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

The ridge of this treasure hall, carved with a "scops", lifelike, as if to rise up in the air. Such a decorative structure is rarely seen in Beijing's ancient buildings and Chinese temple architecture, and it was the first time I saw such an exquisite and imposing "scops" decoration in Tanzhe Temple.

Depending on the level of the building, the higher the animal, the more numerous it will be. In China, only the sacred animals on the roof of the Forbidden City's Taihe Hall can have ten of them.

Tanzhe Temple's animal specifications are seven, just below the level of Tiananmen Square and the same level as the palace. The number of animals in Tanzhe Temple and Yonghe Palace is seven, indicating the high status of Tanzhe Temple.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Tanzhe Temple has a large number of historical relics and many people come to visit. There is a poem written by a Qing Dynasty emperor at Tanzhe Temple. In terms of temple building, Tanzhe Temple was built over 1,700 years ago and was the first Buddhist temple in the Beijing area, and the legend of "Tanzhe Temple" and "Beijing City" is passed down among the people.

Historical development, architectural evolution

Politics and religion interacted, with rulers relying on religion to consolidate power, and religion relying on the power of the court to grow and develop.

Buddhist sects have a great influence on the construction of monasteries. Although all sects come from the same lineage, their practices and precepts vary, and therefore the floor space required can also vary.

Huayan monk founded Tanzhe Temple, the creation of Huayan Buddhism, after the rise of Zen Buddhism, Tanzhe Temple gradually developed into a Zen temple, to the Jin and Yuan dynasties, Buddhism attaches great importance to the Yuan Miao Yan Princess in Tanzhe Temple as a monk.

Learning from the lessons of the Shunzhi emperor, the Qing dynasty changed Zen Buddhism to Ritsu Buddhism and added buildings such as precept temples during this period, making the West Road area more complete. The promotion of freedom of worship after the Republican era had an impact on the sect of Tanzhe Temple and had an impact on the construction of the monastery. After the founding of the country, Tanzhe Temple was added as a tourist attraction with facilities for visitors in addition to religious activities.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

The evolution of the architectural form of Tanzhe Temple is a clear historical lineage. Tanzhe Temple has survived many wars and reconstructions during the Jin and Tang Dynasties, Song and Liao Dynasties, and Jin Dynasty.

During the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, it was gradually taken seriously by the imperial court and was successively repaired and expanded, initially forming the basic structure of Buddhism, centered on the Pailou, the Mountain Gate, the Hall of the Heavenly King, the Hall of the Great Hero, the Hall of the Three Saints, and the Vihara Pavilion.

The massive expansion during the Kangxi period increased the size of Tanzhe Temple, as did the palace on the east and some buildings on the west. In the middle of the Qing Dynasty, the Great Compassion Altar, Anle Yanshou Hall, West Guanyin Cave and other buildings were built one after another to expand the scale of the temple.

During the Republican period, the layout of the monastery did not change much, but was only undergoing constant maintenance. At the beginning of the founding of the country, Tanzhe Temple as a school building, its building function also changed, but because of the heritage protection policy at the time, the main body of the building was preserved, and the construction of staff dormitories at the foot of the mountain and so on.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery

Now Tanzhe Temple is managed by the garden department, and as a national scenic spot, many building functions have been changed due to the needs of tourists, but the main structure of the building has been preserved and is a valuable ancient cultural relic in China.

The core of the ancient Tanzhe Temple was the Buddhist road halfway up the mountain, which was built on a small scale in the early days, so residential routes and the like did not occupy a major position, and later a western sermon area was built as the main secondary road.

During the Kangxi period, the palace was extensively expanded, making the living area several times larger. The main buildings of the East Road consisted of the royal route of activities, maintaining a certain degree of independence and security from the Buddhist and sermon paths.

In the mid-Qing period, in addition to improving the general layout of the monastery, buildings such as the Tiger Cave, the Hall of Peaceful Life and Mercy were built outside the main body of the monastery, which are located outside the main gate, separated by the east and west gates, with relatively independent roads and different functions. After the founding of the country, the monastery was used as the main tourist resource for the sightseeing route.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery


The temple has always been a holy place, where people come to pray for blessings; or for other reasons, to bless peace. Nowadays, temple tourism in China is booming.

Temple tourism has also become an indispensable part of our tourism industry, but in one of our temples, there are armed police guards twenty-four hours a day, with heavily armed police officers patrolling in shifts, and there is a constant stream of people who travel to Tanzhe Temple every day. In Beijing, there is also a famous saying: the first is called Tanzhe Temple, the second is called Beijing.

This shows how high the status of Tanzhe Temple is in the minds of old Beijingers.

Tanzhe Temple: A Royal Monastery


[1] Mao ZF. Tanzhe Temple, a monastery with royal ties[J]. Knowledge is power, 2009(01):72-75.

[2] Lin, J. S.. The ancient architectural art of Tanzhe Temple [J]. Changjiang Construction,1998(01):30-31.

[3] ] Shen Anyang. The historical development and influencing factors of the pattern of Tanzhe Temple[J]. Ancient garden technology,2019(03):60-65.