Eight Outer Temples is located to the north and east of Chengde Summer Resort in Chengde, Hebei Province. Eight Outer Temples is the general name of eight Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in this area, including the Boren Temple, Puning Temple, An’yuan Temple, Putuozongcheng Temple, Guang’an Temple, Suxiang Temple, Guangyuan Temple, Ximi Fushou Temple (the temple for praying happiness and longevity).
The temples had taken many years to finish from 1713 to 1780 in the reign of Kangxi Emperor and Qianlong Emperor. These temples were the emperors’ summer residence and also used by the upper classes and dignitaries of the west and north minorities to have an audience with the emperor in the Qing Dynasty. In 1994, together with Chengde Summer Resor, Eight Outer Temples was listed as world cultural heritage. There were original 12 temples in this area. Of the 12 temples, the Guang’an Temple, Boshan Temple and Kuixing Attic do not exist at present. While the Luohan Hall and Puyou Temple suffered serious damage and only several sections left. Now, only 7 temples are well-preserved and 6 of them are open to the public
Eight Outer Temples combined the architectural style of the Han-style temple, Tibetan monasteries, and Tibetan-Han style three forms. Its architecture, gardens and a large number of inscriptions, sculptures, murals, statues and other artifacts plays a important role in the study of history, culture, religion art, garden culture of Qing Dynasty as art treasures. Especially, the Thousand-hand Goddess of Mercy in Puning Temple is the largest gilded wooden statues in the world. This statue has been in the Guinness Book of World Records. Only in Puning Temple in Eight Outer Temples area lives Lamas. Puning Temple is the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in northern China. Construction of the temple embodies the significance of “forever peace for the world”. Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet and the Mongolian People’s hearts are very sacred.
• Putuo Zongcheng Temple
Putuo Zongcheng Temple is one part of Eight Outer Temples in Chengde, Hebei Province during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. The temple was modeled after the Potala Palace of Tibet, the old sanctuary of the Dalai Lama built a century earlier. Hence the Putuo Zongcheng Temple has been nicknamed the “Little Potala Palace”. Since it was modeled after the Potala palace, the temple represents a fusion of Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. Many of its halls and pavilions are adorned with copper and gold tiled roofs, adding to the splendor of the site.
The entire temple covers 220,000 square meters, making it one of the largest in China. And it is a Qing Dynasty era Buddhist temple complex built between 1767 and 1771 by Qing emperor Qianlong to celebrate his 60th birthday and his mother’s 80th birthday, to host nobles from the minority peoples of Mongolia, Qinghai and Xinjiang who came to join in his birthday celebrations.
Since it was modeled after Potala palace, the temple represents a fusion of Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. The temple complex covers a surface area of some 220,000 square meters, making it one of the largest in China. Many of its halls and pavilions are adorned with copper and gold tiled roofs, adding to the splendor of the site.
• Sumeru Fushou Temple
Sumeru Fushou Temple (Fushou means blessing and longevity) is located at the foot of a mountain to the north of the Chengde Summer Resort. It was built in 1780, the forty-fifth year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign, in order to serve as a temporary palace for the sixth Panchen of Tibet when he came to congratulate Emperor Qianlong on his seventieth birthday.
Covering an area of more than 36,000 m2, it was built in accordance with the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet. As a typical Tibetan-style structure, it was backed by the mountain. From south to north along the clear-cut central axis, there is the five-arch bridge, the mountain gate, the Imperial Stele Pavilion, the glazed stone archway, the Hall of Sublime Loftiness, the Hall of the Origin of Buddhist Dharma and the Glazed Pagoda.
Sumeru Fushou Temple was built as the palace of Banchan in Chengde, so it has dense air and etiquette of Tibetan Buddhism. The construction design and the decoration are both quite precise. In Qing Dynasty it is the symbol of harmonious nation of Han and Tibet. It was listed into the Chinese emphatic preservation unit of cultural relics in 1961.
• Pule Temple
Pule Temple (Temple of Universal Happiness) is one of Eight Outer Temples in Chengde City, Hebei Province, China. It was built in 1766, the thirty-first year of reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty. The place, where the Pule Temple is located, used to be a flat ground. People could see mountains around the Mountain Resort. The temple is made up of the front hall, side halls and the massacre city. The temple features a combination of Chinese-style and Tibetan-style structures. It covers an area of 24,000 square meters.
It is divided into two parts. The front area consists of Chinese-style structures such as the Hall of Mountain Gate (Shan Men Dian), the bell tower, the drum tower, the Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tian Wang Dian), the Hall of Timeless Buddhist Dharma (Zong Yin Dian), the Side Hall of Wisdom and Power (Hui Li Pei Dian) and the Side Hall of the Karma of Victory (Sheng Yin Pei Dian). The rear area is a Tibetan-style Mandala, also known as the Sutra Altar or the Altar City, consisting of three stories. The Chinese-style and Tibetan-style structures are separated by the Hall of Timeless Buddhist Dharma. Pule Temple houses many Buddha statues, including many Exoteric and Esoteric Buddha statues. In addition to the exquisite Buddha statutes, the large number of glazed ornaments and colorful decorations on the structures are important factors that make the whole Pule Temple magnificent and attractive.
• Puning Temple
Puning Temple was constructed in 1755 of the Qianlong reign. In order to celebrate the suppression of rebellion of Junggar tribe, Emperor Qianlong invited the four troops that participated in the suppression to the Mountain Resort in October in the 20th year of the Qianlong reign. He dubbed leaders of the four troops, and ordered to build Puning Temple.
Puning Temple is of grand scale, occupying an area of more than 23,000 square meters. The main structure in the temple is the Hall of Great Buddha. The hall is 36.75 meters high, and has six layers and multiple eaves. The top of the hall is a gold-plated dome. The hall is a representative of the architectural style of Chinese temples and mosques. A Bodhisattva statue with thousands of hands and eyes is enshrined in the hall. The statue, 21.85 meters in height and 110 tons in weight, is carved out of wood and plated with gold. It sits on a locus throne of 2.22 meters high. The statue has 42 hands, two of which clamp together and the rest with different musical instruments in them. The statue is one of the famous large-scale wood-carved Buddha statues in China. All around the hall there are other Tibetan constructions, such as pagodas and terraces. Besides the Hall of Great Buddha, there are the Miaoyan Room and the Hall of Scripture Preaching, where Qing emperors listened to the preaching and had a rest.
• Shuxiang Temple
Shuxiang Temple is located at the Chengde Summer Resort Manor in Chengde City, Hebei Province. It is one of the famous Eight Outer Temples in this city. The temple was built in secession from 1713 during the reign of Kangxi Emperor to 1780 during the reign of Qianlong Emperor. This is another very atmospheric temple, amazing temple to walk around and admire the beauty of the art and architecture.
Shuxiang Temple is a typical Chinese style temple. It is one hundred and fifteen meters long from east to west and two hundred meters wide from north to south, covering an area of twenty seven hectares. The design of it made used of garden layout techniques, using massive rockery, scattered pine trees planted to create its own unique style.
There was original cauldron with a diameter of 2.41 meters in the temple. And it is 4.1 meters high with the wall thickness of six centimeters. This cauldron was made by eighty-eight copper blocks, weighing about five tons. And it was supported by eighteen iron posts. Usually, it was used for water storage.
【How to get there】: Visitors can take bus No.6 or No.10to get to the Eight Outer Temples for a tour.
Tips: If you come to Chengde, do not leave before seeing at least both Putuo and Puning temples. If you were time-constrained I would even recommend seeing them over the Mountain resort itself. The Putuo Temple (the “mini” Potala) is just stunning and the
Puning Temple is extremely charming and its gigantic wooden Buddha very impressive