Dajue Temple ：A One-Thousand-Year-Old Temple2016-05-31 14:11:00Share:
Located at the foot of Yangtai Hill, Dajue Temple, or the Temple of Enlightenment, was first built in 1068 during the Liao Dynasty.
The vista of two flanking temples sitting on hilltops to the west and east of the Dajue Temple is popularly described as 'a lion rolling two embroidered balls'.
The temple is embodied with a strong sense of history, which is revealed in stone monuments from Liao Dynasty, buildings from the Ming Dynasty and inscriptions from the Qing Dynasty.
Yanzang, a Buddhist master, says even the temple's position is special.
"This temple is situated on the west and faces the east, in the hope that the first ray of sunlight each morning will bring hope to the nation. It's a distinctive design because most Chinese traditional buildings were built on the north and face the south. The design reflects the multicultural nature of China, a process of recognition among different cultures."
The temple was established on the mountain slope, with four halls lining the east-west axis. Most of the buildings were renovated during the Qing Dynasty. The halls are large, simple and austere. Their layout is compact but displays impressive depth and breadth.
The principal structures in the temple are the Maitreya, or Future Buddha Hall, with a peaceful courtyard. The roof brackets and columns of the halls date from the early Ming Dynasty between the 14th and 17th centuries.
The life-sized figures of Bodhisattvas in the halls are outstandingly beautiful. What's more, many well-preserved tablets and inscriptions by Ming and Qing Dynasty emperors can be found in the temple.
The temple is surrounded by lush trees. Ancient cypresses reach skyward, verdant green bamboo sways gently in the breeze. in the grounds, there is a giant 1,000-year-old gingko tree, which is so wide it takes six people to hug it.
A mountain spring runs from the rear courtyard to the pool in the front yard. The water is clear and flows constantly.
Master Yanzang says that although the temple has a history of about one thousand years, it remains dynamic.
"Dajue Temple has been through the Liao, Ming and Qing Dynasties and the current People's Republic of China. Although the dynasties changed, Dajue Temple has always been dynamic. It's like a living fossil of culture. It embodies oriental wisdom and the unyielding, hardworking, brave, broad and peace-loving spirit of the Chinese people. These traditions blossom just like the magnolias in the temple."
Speaking of magnolias, the flower is the symbol of the temple. Each spring, Dajue Temple holds a magnolias festival. Indeed, since magnolias can be found in many places in Beijing. What's so special about the magnolias in Dajue Temple?
Zhao Yan, chief editor of a publishing house, has been studying the history and culture of Dajue Temple for many years. He introduces us to one magnolia tree in the temple, which is over 300 years old.
"This magnolia tree was moved here by our master of the temple from Mt. Lushan. So it's a southern-born magnolia tree, not a northern one. It migrated here during the reign of emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty. It blossoms each year around the time of Qingming Festival, also known as the Tomb Sweeping Festival in May. This magnolia tree is small, but its flowers are big and its white leaves are thick, pure and noble. Many poems have been written in praise of this magnolia tree."
The magnolia flowers in Dajue Temple are exceptionally large, bright, elegant and fragrant. These eye-catching flowers surpass other magnolias in Beijing, drawing flocks of tourists each spring.
Since 1997, many tea houses have been established in the temple. A restaurant has also opened and the abandoned rooms of monks have been converted into guest rooms. There are even some luxury suites available.
In addition, a meeting room and other entertainment facilities have been developed. In the grounds of the temple, there are chairs for you to rest and tables where you can drink tea.
The aroma of tea and flowers combined with the beauty of green and ancient trees make Dajue Temple a unique attraction.
Indeed, Dajue Temple has been a popular place for poets and authors throughout its history. Writers have left behind many beautiful poems inspired by the temple.
Zhu Ziqing, a famous 20th century Chinese essayist wrote a poem while he visited the temple. It reads:
"The magnolias in Dajue temple, straight and tall; look up, my hat falls down: what a grand top of the tree… God must be here, I'm waiting for his touch quietly."
Now, Dajue Temple is open to tourists all year round. Many people, such as Jia Min, come here regularly for a relaxing day off.
"Coming to this temple is my favorite pastime. It's elegant and tranquil. We come here a few times each year. The spring and trees are really nice."
If you happen to be in the city, come to the Dajue Temple. It will be another great chance for you to experience the ancient but modern Beijing.
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