Ba Da Chu Park, or Badachu Park as it is usually written in English, has a long history as an important holy place for Buddhists (the "Eight Great Sites" is a reference to the park's eight temples). The park, located in Beijing's Western Hills ("Xi Shan"), about 16 kilometers from the heart of Beijing, is literally speckled with temples and gardens, all harmoniously nestled in among trees and rocks, evoking an atmosphere that is eminently conducive to meditation and contemplation.
Built during the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty over a thousand years ago, Lingguang Temple is the most important of the eight temples. The inner abbot's chamber of the Lingguang Temple enshrines one of only two extant teeth of Buddha Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.
The Chang'An Temple, or the Temple of Everlasting Peace and Tranquility, was built in CE 1504, in the 17th year of the reign (CE 1487-1505) of Emperor Hongzi of the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty, on the eastern flank of Xi Shan's Cuiwei Peak.
Sanshan Temple, or the Temple of Three Mountains, is surrounded by peaks on three sides. During the successive reigns of Emperor Yongzheng (CE 1722-1735) and Emperor Qianlong (CE 1735-1796) of the Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty, the accomplished monk Datiantongli ("He Who Was Able to Reach the Heavens and Understand the Truth") used to preach and study here.
This temple is particularly known for the 18 arhats* enshrined in its lobby, which was thought to be made by Liu Yuan, a renowned sculptor of the Yuan (CE 1279-1368) Dynasty. The arhat sculptures contain the powder of the fragrant sandalwood tree, whose distinctive scent is still prominent today.
* An arhat is a figure depicting an arahant, or one who has attained the ultimate goal of enlightenment, or nirvana, by following in the footsteps of the first such arahant, the Buddha himself, who rediscovered the path to enlightenment and taught it to his followers.
Liu Chu Xiang Jie Temple
This is the largest of the eight temples, and is the site where China's emperors came to worship the Buddha, and to contemplate and seek tranquility and rest. Liu Chu Xiang Jie Temple houses many handwritten notes and musings of generations of emperors, most notably, handwritten notes by the emperors of the Qing Dynasty.
The Nunnery of Longquan ("Dragon Spring")
The nunnery, which derives its name from the spring in the courtyard, Dragon Spring, is also called Long Wang Tang, or Dragon King Hall. The crystal clear water of Dragon Spring makes perfect tea, as many a summer visitor to the nunnery can attest.
Baozhu Cave or the Cave of Pearl
The cave is an ideal place to view the sunrise, as well as an excellent perch from which to get a bird's-eye view of the immensity of Beijing as the city sprawls out below.
Zheng Guo Temple
Zheng Guo Temple is the oldest of the eight temples on Beijing's Western Hills. One of the other distinctive features of the temple is that one of its aged trees, as records indicate, is over 600 years old.