Guang Hua is one of Beijing’s least known (by tourists, in any case) but largest and most important Buddhist temples. It is the HQ of the Beijing Buddhist Association and come here on the first or 15th day of any lunar month and you’ll be joined by throngs of pilgrims who arrive to receive special rites.
Most of the time, though, it’s a very quiet, contemplative place, which is still home to around 20 or 30 monks.
Architecturally, it is very impressive with ornately carved and beautifully decorated halls built around three central courtyards, with various buildings and smaller courtyards off to each side. Note that its only on the two ‘pilgrims days’ that the whole temple is open to the public. On other days it’s usually only the first courtyard and hallway that can be entered.
Originally built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it is believed to be the city’s only remaining temple from that period, although, of course, much of what you see is a modern reconstruction.
The non-active Fire-God Temple is a short stroll along Houhai Lake from here. Although covered in another neighbourhood, the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower are also just a short walk away.
31 Ya’er Hutong
Gulou Dajie (500m)