Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guang Ji Temple

Today I was tired, so I had a quiet morning here at the hostel and didn't venture out until the afternoon.

I walked around the local hutong neighborhoods some more, found the local farmers' market, sampled a local dumpling shop that was recommended, and visited Guang Ji Temple, which is about fifteen minutes' walk from the hostel. Guang Ji a still working temple, not a museum; visitors are allowed, as long as they are respectful and do not disrupt the temple life.

The dumpling shop/restaurant serves delicious dumplings and a handful of other items. The room where they make the dumplings had plate glass windows on the street side and also on the inner side so that you can watch them working.
It snowed last night, making everything look more wintry and picturesque today. The beauty of the snow makes up for the barrenness of the trees in winter.

Most of the temples here seem to be laid out in a similar fashion - a long rectangle in which each successive building is more important as you progress from one end to the other. Usually starting with a gate (no pic), then a drum/bell tower on either side,
then the first building, in this case housing the first buddha statue.

Passing the first building one comes to a courtyard between the buildings.
In the courtyard is a large incense burner for the first set of prayers.
Behind the incense burner is a bronze pagoda statue.

Mounting the steps takes one up to the main building of this temple, the worship hall. Because it's the Chinese new year, there was a stream of people coming to offer prayers on the kneeling bench in front of the hall.
I was extremely fortunate to arrive just before the beginning of the buddhist worship service. These three lamas (monks) are about to enter the temple.
There was a monk who walked several times around the building hitting this wooden plank with the hammer at intervals as a call to worship. He set them here on a ledge before he entered the hall.
The chanting was lovely and the service drew participants and observers both in and out of the hall. Everyone maintained a respectful silence, while some continued with their personal prayers. I took a short video from where I stood.

This lama was offering a special prayer at the building behind the main hall, presumably holding a different buddha, for someone who had been talking with him. I would have liked this picture better without that woman's backside, but there wasn't time to get a better angle.
Another shot of the rear building, along with the side buildings which may be offices or study areas.

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