Puning Temple (Temple of Universal Peace)

Admission:

RMB 50 in peak season,
RMB 40 in off-season

Hours:

7:30am-6pm daily

How to get there:

You can take bus 6 to the Puning Temple bus stop. Alternatively, walk, drive or cycle to the temple on Puning Road (Pǔníng Lù, 普宁路) off East Shanzhuang Road (Shānzhuāng Dōng Lù, 山庄东路).

Covering an area of 23,000 square meters (5.7 acres), Puning Temple (Pǔníng Sì, 普宁寺) or "Temple of Universal Peace,"  is the furthest north of the eight temples situated outside the walls of the Imperial Summer Villa (Bishu Shanzhuang) and certainly one of the most impressive. 

Also known as the Big Buddha Temple (Dàfó Sì, 大佛寺), a reference to the huge statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin (a.k.a. Avalokiteshvara)—the world's largest wooden statue—the temple combines Tibetan and Han architectural styles, reflecting both the deep influence of Tibetan Buddhism on Chinese culture and the long-standing Chinese interest in integrating Tibet into a greater Chinese state. The temple was built in 1755 to commemorate the Qing Dynasty victory over a troublesome Mongolian force (the Mongolians had a competitive interest in Tibet's affairs); a stele in front of the main gate commemorates this.

The gargantuan Guanyin resides in the 37-meter-high (121-ft) Mayana Hall. Towering 22.2 m (73 ft) overhead and weighing in at 110 tons, the Merciful One is made of five types of wood (pine, cypress, elm, fir and basswood) and sports 42 arms and 47 eyes (three on her head, one in her belly, and one on each of her 42 palms), helping her see the past, present and future with equal clarity. As if Guanyin alone weren't enough, a 1.5 m (5 ft) Buddha of Infinity and Longevity sits atop her head.

Other halls, pavilions and towers feature a number of other statues, paintings and inscriptions, and the active temple bustles with red-robed monks at the right times of day.

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