During my first two visits in Beijing I had explored the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the Temple of Confucius, the Tibetan Lama Temple and the Hutongs, some of these amazing sights even twice. So when I was in Beijing the third time, I knew that I wanted to discover something new and hidden, a sight not every tourist stumbles upon and a place which I didn’t know yet and maybe haven’t heard of myself. Thanks to my travel guide book I came across a Daoist temple called Beijing Dongyue Miao.
I was surprised that the staff of my hotel had never heard of this temple before and that they had to do some research to tell me how to get there by metro and public bus.
Even the locals at Chaoyangmen where I got off the subway didn’t seem to know the temple and I had some problems to find the right bus which eventually dropped me off right on the doorstep.
Apparently the Dongyue Miao is really a hidden gem in Beijing. Leah Sprague wrote 2014 in “The Beijinger” that she is surprised “how few people know of Dongyue Temple, literally “Beijing eastern peak temple”.” The name Dongyue stands for Mount Tai, the easternmost and holiest of the five holy mountains of Daoism whom the temple is dedicated. It was founded in 1319 during the Yuan Dynasty by Zhang Liusun who died one year before its completion in 1322. The temple was then finished by Liusun’s student Wu Quanjie. Throughout its history Dongyue Miao was reconstructed and renovated several times, most recently in 2002.
When I arrived there were less than two handfuls of people. Dongyue Miao is red- and blue coloured and surrounded by lush green trees. Although it is located inmidst the busy district of Chaoyang it is a peaceful and quiet oasis. The temple consists of three main courtyards and three main halls: the Yude Hall, the Daizongbao Hall, and the Yuhuang Hall. After entering the complex through the main entrance I walked down a long path which was decorated with symbols of luck towards the main temple.
The main entrance of the Dongyue Miao
Guardian figure at the entrance
Pathway to the main temple
Symbols of luck
On the left and on the right of the main pathway are two towers with a marbled horse in front of each and several stone tables behind the towers. While there used to be 140 stone tables during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties and the Republican area of China there are only 90 stone tables left today.
Tower with marbled horse
Lateral temple building
The main courtyard is sourrounded by 76 small open chambers each one with a group of plaster statues, some of them weird looking, others even a bit creepy appearing, which depicte “one of the “76 departments” of the Daoist supernatural world.”
“Ordinary temple figures” in a lateral temple building
Supernatural Daoist plaster figures
On the backside of the main temple there are a few paintings and behind it there is a two-storey-building which hosts the Beijing Folk Customs Museum.
Ying & Yang symbol
After exploring the Dongyue Miao extensively I headed back to the Chaoyangmen subway station. Nearby I saw a group of local women dancing in the street to some Chinese music. This is something I encountered all over China during all of my previous visits; local people dancing in parks, in the streets, at car parks and in many other public places, and it’s something I really love as an aspect of local Chinese life.
Girls watching the dancing ladies
As I had planned to hike the unrestored Gubeikou section of the Great Wall together with my American friend Mill the next morning I didn’t stay out that long. After watching the ladies for a while I enjoyed a local dinner and took the subway back to my hotel afterwards.
The Dongyue Miao temple is opened daily from 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM from 1st November till 31st March and from 7.30 AM to 5.30 PM from 1st April till 31st October.
The entrance fee is 40 Yuan.
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