The Lama Temple, or Yonghe Gong in Chinese, is the largest Tibetan Buddhist Lama Temple in Beijing. It was built in the 33rd year of Kangxi Reign in the Qing Dynasty (1694) as the mansion for Emperor Yongzheng when he was a prince. In the third year of the third Qing Emperor Yongzheng Reign (1725), it was made an imperial palace for short stays, named ¡°Yonghe Gong¡± (Gong means palace in Chinese.). In 1744, the ninth year of the Qianlong Reign, it was converted into a lamasery.
The main buildings in the Yonghe Gong complex is composed of and six main halls Yonghe Gate, Yonghegong Hall, Yongyou Hall, Falun Hall, Wanfu Hall, Suicheng Hall. Besides there are the east and west side halls, Sixue Hall (including Apothecary Hall, Mathematics Hall, Esoteric Hall and Lecture Hall), and two exhibition halls of cultural relics. At the gate of the Lama Temple there stand three graceful memorial archways. The whole perfect layout looks majestic with the characteristics of Manchu, Han, Tibetan and Mongolian cultures.
In each hall of the temple, there are enshrined many Buddhist statues, Tangka and rare cultural relics. Among them three most famous pieces of treasure were recorded in ¡°Guinness Book of World Records¡±. They are the Five-Hundred-Arhat Hill carved out of red sandalwood, the Buddhist Niche carved of nanmu (a kind of evergreen arbor), and the 18-meter tall Buddha in a piece of sandalwood.
Before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Lama Temple remained in ruins. After 1949, the People's Government attached great importance to the temple. State leaders made inspections to it frequently and large investments have been put into the reconstruction project of the temple. In 1961, it was listed as one of the major national protected cultural heritages. Thanks to the consideration of the late Premier Zhou Enlai, the temple survived the turmoil of the decade cultural revolution. In 1981, the Lama Temple was reopened to the public.