White Cloud Temple, Beijing

Baiyun Guan (White Cloud Temple) is a Taoist temple in Beijing. It is a popular destination for pilgrims and not very touristy, although it is signposted in English.

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History of White Cloud Temple

Baiyun Guan is said to have been built in 739 AD and was once the most influential Taoist temple in China. After the Cultural Revolution it was used for a long time as a military barracks, but today it houses the China Taoism Association and 30 resident monks. The blue-frocked monks wear their hair in the rarely seen traditional manner: long and tied in a bun at the top of the head.

What to See at White Cloud Temple

The White Cloud Temple is an active place of Taoist ritual and pilgrimage and has a thriving feel to it. It is generally laid out like a Buddhist temple but with some unique features, such as the three gateways at the entrance that symbolize the Taoist three worlds: Desire, Substance and Emptiness.

There are three monkeys depicted in relief sculptures around the temple and it is believed to be lucky to find all three. The first one is on the gate and has been rubbed black. The other two are in the first courtyard.

The complex consists of various halls with altars, incense and statues of Taoist deities. Although Taoist texts decry the pursuit of wealth and honors as empty, the gods of wealth tend to attract the most devotees.

One notable structure in the temple is the Laolu Tang, a large cushion-filled hall in the third courtyard originally built in 1228, now used for teaching and ceremonies.

The temple bookshop has only one book in England (the Book of Changes, naturally) but plenty of tapes and lucky charms.

Quick Facts on White Cloud Temple

Site Information
Names:Baiyun Guan · White Cloud Temple
Country:China
Categories:temples
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:39.899321° N, 116.337721° E
Address:Beijing, China
Lodging:View hotels near White Cloud Temple
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. The Rough Guide to China 4 (October 2005), 113.
  2. Frommer's Beijing, 4th ed. (March 2006).

More Information

© Gene Zhang
© Moon Lee
© Sergio Nasi
© Nick Leonard
© Gene Zhang

Map of White Cloud Temple, Beijing

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