White Cloud Monastery (Biyun Guan)  » Travel  »
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Beijing, China
  • Admission is ten yuan per person (roughly $1.50 USD) at the gate, and I'd recommend that you also splurge a little and get some incense from the vendors situated outside the the main entrance
  • And truly, it won't cost more than 2 dollars USD even at their rate for Westerners, so no harm, no foul)
  • But even if you don't have any pains, definitely touch the lovely statue
  • Next, after rounding a corner, you'll enter a small courtyard that faces,in my opinion, the most unique building of the temple

    • by onerios13

      all reviews
      After returning from visiting family in China six months ago, I want to take the opportunity to share my opinion on one of the most beautiful places you can visit while vacationing in Beijing. The place is called White Cloud Monastery, or in Chinese, Biyun Guan. It’s roughly ten miles away from Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden Palace, and near a bridge called Shao Paquo Qiao. It is the premier Taoist Temple and although there are many surrounding Buddhist Temples that are far more grand and ostentatious, this gracious, open-air sanctuary will charm you with its serene atmosphere and quiet chambers built to honor the ancient Chinese deities.

      Built nearly nine hundred years ago, it still retains its humble roots and you’ll feel like you’ve walked straight into a spot of history forgotten by time and away from the hustle and bustle of modern day Beijing, home to nearly twenty million souls. The ornate rooftops are all original and not a single nail was used in its construction (much like the Forbidden Palace) as the architects were clever enough to balance the beams against each other so that only gravity and their sheer ingeniousness design are left to hold up these grand pillars of red. And even today, Taoist priests clad in gray still worship there and keep the place beautiful.

      Admission is ten yuan per person (roughly $1.50 USD) at the gate, and I’d recommend that you also splurge a little and get some incense from the vendors situated outside the the main entrance. Mostly because it’s cheaper than buying it while inside the temple. Don’t pay more than around 10-20 yuan per bunch (if you were a native, it’d be much cheaper usually around 4-6 yuan a bunch, but if you are the typical ‘Round-Eye’, good luck with getting that kind of deal! And truly, it won’t cost more than 2 dollars USD even at their rate for Westerners, so no harm, no foul.) I recommend that you pick up some incense even if you are not a believer of Eastern religions simply due to the fact that it is appropriate to pay

      your respects given that the temple is still an active temple even if it is open to visitors.

      The very first thing you want to do once you are beyond the gate and through the wide courtyard and just before you enter into the enormous double-door portcullis, stop and see if you can spot one of the several monkeys carved into the stone. There are a total of six monkeys located on the walls and inside the monastery and it is believed that you’ll be very lucky if you can spot all six and rub your fingers against them.

      Next you’ll come across a stone bridge called the Wofeng Bridge. Not only is it a charming structure just begging for a Kodak Moment, but at on either side of the bridge, hanging over a deep and narrow pit, are two round gongs with a bell suspended from a cut hole inside the gongs. Go to the two booths against the wall near the doors and purchase a roll of metal coins (ten yuan for 25 pieces) and then start throwing the coins at the gong and see if you can hit the bell at the center. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it looks! But if you do hit the bell and it rings sweetly in the air, you are guaranteed good fortune for the rest of the year. Just don’t go broke trying to get it!

      Once you’re finished with that little exercise, be prepared to be amazed by the exquisite buildings lining on either side of the courtyard. In the center, there will also be large stone houses built for a certain Taoist god or goddess. Some buildings you might want to visit are the temples for the god of money (fortune), the god of the underworld (who if petitioned will erase the sins of passed loved ones so they might enter heaven sooner), the gods of marriage and children (who can be petitioned for those who wish to have children but have not yet been blessed). As for me, I made a beeline for the god of writing and passing ...

      • official tests. I was told that if you asked this god for help in getting published and the prayer was answered (indeed, this can be for any request for any of the gods), you should return with a bolt of red silk and present it to them as thanks.

        Whichever house or god you visit, it would be appropriate to lay a few sticks of incense at their altar after you’ve made your requests or said a prayer. There are special kneeling pads for the devout, but of course, not necessary if you are not one of the believers. But you are not allowed to burn incense in the buildings as the smoke will damage the statutes (even though almost all of them are already enclosed in glass cases). However, there are many stations outside in the courtyard that face the main and side buildings that you may lit and burn incense and then throw into a metal bin to join with the hundreds of other incense sticks offered to the gods.

        At the back of the temple, is the Jade Emperor’s court. Here, sheltered by large pines and oaks, you will truly feel peace. Not only is the two-story, ornately designed buildings gorgeous to look at, but you can actually FEEL the spirits lingering softly, and believe that here lies the very heart of tranquility. Spend a few minutes on the side benches and absorb the blowing breeze and good vibes.

        Just before you enter into the Jade Emperor’s Court, there will be two paths, one on each side of the courtyard. If you go to the right, you’ll encounter a bronze horse. Legend says that if you touch the horse in the place where you have been injured or feel pains, i.e. stomach or knee problems, you will transfer the pains to the statue and be relieved of your own agonies. But even if you don’t have any pains, definitely touch the lovely statue. It will feel like cool velvet under your palms, the metal so worn down in spots from countless hands touching it.

        Next, after rounding a corner, you’ll enter

        a small courtyard that faces,in my opinion, the most unique building of the temple. Inside, there are hundreds of small gods lined up next to each other, but what is so special about these gods is that they represent the personal god for a specific year. For example, if you were born in 1953, you must go around to the left and find your year which will be on a plaque right under a specific god. Some are old, some have chubby cheeks, some long wise black beards, and mine was a handsome youth dressed in blue robes and an intense expression in his brown eyes. Once you find your year and god, place several incense sticks under his feet and ask that this god look after you in the coming years.

        Believe me, it works.

        After you have found your deity and leave the temple, go to your right where you’ll face an entire wall of carved animals. They represent the Chinese Zodiac, starting with the Rat and all the way down to the Pig. If you know your Chinese animal sign, head towards the animal and be sure to rub your hands all over it as it will bring you good luck. Also, if you have any incense sticks still (usually about this time, I’m plum out of them), place them on the edges of the wall as an offering.

        If you spend less than an hour there, you’ve truly cheated yourself. The first time I visited, I was there for nearly four hours, just marveling at all the delightful and excellent artifacts and buildings. Again, I have been to almost every standing museum, palace, garden, and historical site in Beijing, yet none of them, and I mean none of them, have touched me as deeply or completely as the White Cloud Monastery. Even if you do not hold a shred of religious belief, you will not be able to resist the gentle vibrations emanating from every corner of this special temple. At turns, amusing, awe-filling, curious and profoundly moving, this extraordinary place will change you with its subtle yet unmistakable magic.

        Trust me. I’m a native.

    liquidmindforever says :

    Next time you travel to China, please shrink wrap my ECHO - I must see through your eyes - and feel inside where you left parcels of your soul.

    • Don't Be Nice. Be Helpful.

    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in June, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 381806729251130/k2311a0618/6.18.09
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