The Yunju Temple is located in the Shiuto Village, Shangle Town southwest of Fangshan County in Beijing, which is 75 kilometers from Beijing downtown.
The Yunju Temple is a famous ancient Buddhist temple located among the high mountain ridges in the suburb of Beijing. The temple was first built in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) by the eminent monk Jingwan from the Zhiquan Temple in Youzhou. At that time, there were a lot of monks and Buddhists in the temple, and all the halls were very magnificent and imposing with the forest of stone dagobas, making the temple very famous at that time. Originally all the halls were arranged in six courtyards with the middle, south and north routes. On the middle route stood the main hall of the temple, and on the south and north routes, the guesthouses and the temporary residence courtyards. Two towers of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) stood by the side of the temple. During the Anti-Japanese War in modern time, the whole temple was destroyed except the North Tower of the Liao Dynasty and four towers built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The North Tower of more than 30 meters tall, also called the Arhat Pagoda, is a brick dagoba of Buddhist relics built in the Liao Dynasty. Its construction started during the Tianqing reign (1111-1120) of the Liao Dynasty. The body of the dagoba combined three different architectural forms and formed a very unique shape. The bottom of the pagoda is an octagonal pedestal, on which sits a two-storeyed brick pavilion-styled pagoda.
All the four Tang pagodas are marked with the specific time of construction. The plane layout of the pagoda is a square of 7 layers. The body of the pagoda is carved with various Buddhist images, among which is the image of a foreign donator with deep eyes and high nose carved on the interior wall of the stone pagoda built in the 15th year (727) of the Kaiyuan reign of the Tang Dynasty. The clothing of the carving is quite brilliant with smooth strokes, reflecting the booming cultural exchange with foreign countries during the most prosperous Tang Dynasty.
Nine Stone-Carved Sutra storage caves are located on the sutra hill to the northeast of the temple, where hide 4,195 pieces of scripture stone carvings carved during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907) and at the end of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Among them, the most famous one -- the Leiyin Cave -- houses four stone columns, each of which has several hundred basso-relievo small josses, and the josses on the four columns total over one thousand, so they are also called as thousand Buddha columns. 146 flagstones with scriptures carved by the eminent monk Jingwan of the Sui Dynasty, who built the Yunju Temple, are kept in the cave and all of them are mounted on the walls of the cave. Besides the nine caves, another sutra-storage cave was found in 1956 near the south pagoda, and 10,082 flagstones carved with 3,400 volumes of scriptures were excavated, making it the biggest extant storage place for stone-carved Buddhist Sutras in China. Since the stone-carved Sutras are original and have very few errors, they are very important and valuable for correcting errors in other editions. They are also very precious materials for the research into the history of Chinese Buddhism, arts, and architecture as well as the social politics, economics, culture and folk customs.
There are many very rare cultural relics like stone dagoba, steles of the late Liao Dynasty around the Yunju Temple. The buildings of the famous Tang Pagoda, the Sutra-Insolating Platform, etc., are very exquisite and hold a very important position in the Chinese history of ancient architectural research.
How to get there: Bus No.917, Tourist Bus No.10 (You10) to Yunju Si