Eight Outlying Temples

Eight Outlying Temples

The Eight Outlying Temples are part of the Chengde Mountain Resort but rest outside of its walls. They were designed by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) emperors to help keep the peace and appease people from the numerous resident ethnic minorities. In order to achieve this aim, the architects incorporated features from several styles, including those of the Han, Mongolian, Manchu, Man, and Tibetan ethnic groups. The name rather misleadingly suggests that there are only 8 temples, but there are in fact 12. The term “Eight Outlying Temples” comes from the fact that they were under eight different administrations. Many of them are over 200 years old and contain thousands of the most elaborate and stunning Buddhist statues in the country.

The most well-known is the Putuo Zongcheng Temple, which was built during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796) and was modelled after Potala Palace in Lhasa. Its Golden Pavilion, heavily inlaid with golden decorations, was where the emperor regularly worshipped. Xumi Fushou Temple was similarly inspired by Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet and was constructed to make the Panchen Lama[1] feel comfortable during his stay in 1780. You know you’re important when a whole temple is built just for your summer visit!

Pule Temple or Temple of Universal Joy was designed primarily by Tibetan advisors and bizarrely the rear of the temple is an almost exact copy of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the Temple of Heaven. Finally the Puning Temple or Temple of Universal Peace, which was built in 1755, contains the world’s largest wooden statue of the Buddhist goddess Guanyin, resplendent with her 42 outstretched arms and towering in at a height of 22 metres (73 ft.). The statue is so huge that you can even climb to the third-storey of the temple and look her straight in the eyes. Just don’t try to give her a high-five!

 

[1] The Panchen Lama: The highest ranking lama after the Dalai Lama according to Tibetan Buddhism.