Travelogues

Beijing Autumn 2/2 Jietai Temple 戒台寺

Jietai Temple is among the many tourist sites in Beijing. It is located about 25 kilometers from the center of Beijing in the Ma’an mountain. Tourists can find preserved cultural relics like the stone columns and stone tablets with carvings of Buddhist scriptures from the Liao Dynasty.

History

The Making of the Ordination Altar

Jietai Temple was built during Wude’s reign in the Tang Dynasty. It was first called Huiju Temple that means the temple of accumulating wisdom. It was renovated by Monk Fajun in the 11th century during the Xianyong Period in the Liao Dynasty. It became an ordination altar.

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Since then, Jietai Temple has underwent several destruction and renovations. A number of the remaining buildings seen at the temple now are from the Qing Dynasty. The name Jietai Temple was taken from the famous Ming marble ordination altar. The altar stands about 16 feet high, and it is adorned with exquisite and delicate carvings.

Jietai Temple Features

The Natural and Architectural Attractions

Jietai Temple is a multi-courtyard complex. It has five main buildings that include Mahavira Hall, Tianwang Hall, Sanxian Hall, Qinafo Hall and Jiuxian Hall. Surrounding these halls are rock formations and ancient ornaments and trees.

Famous Ancient Trees and Ornaments

The most common species are cypress, pine and Japanese pagoda trees. The temple also has a 250-year old lilac bush. Another famous tree is Nine Dragon that looks like a flying dragon as its nine branches twist upwards.

Other trees that surround Jietai Temple have been given unique names like Leisure Pine or Zi Zan, Sleeping Dragon or Wo Long, and Embracing Pagoda or Bao Ta. A mysterious tree called Trembling Pine or Hou Dong is said to tremble when only one branch is touched.

These ancient trees are top attractions for both domestic and foreign tourists. These trees actually made the temple very popular. These old trees are considered to be protectors of Buddhism. There is a total of 88 national ancient trees preserved all over the temple.

The Ordination Altar

There is a three-story wooden altar in the main hall. There are steps connecting the lower and the upper sections. The finely carved image of Buddha that measures a little less than one hundred feet in height covers a wall in the compound’s northwest section where the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas stands.

Visitors can also find a Jin Dynasty stela and a Liao Dynasty stupa. Additionally, there are many stone pillars carved with Buddhist sutra texts that are preserved in almost perfect condition. Ceremonies are conducted at the ordination altar to commemorate the ascension of devotees to monkhood.

Don’t miss the nearby Tanzhe Temple (Pool and Mulberry Tree Temple) if you are here for a visit. You can squeeze both temples in a single day tour.

Date Visited : Oct 2017

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