Mountain Resort in Chengde, Hebei Province, China is one of the most wonderful monuments ever built. Its grandeur extends not only within the walls, but outside too in the form of Eight Outer Temples. These temples were built in the 18th century during the reign of the Qing Dynasty. Out of these,
Puning Temple is one of the most popular destinations for tourists and Buddhist pilgrims from all across the world. Located towards the east of the Mountain Resort, the Puning Temple along with the other seven temples, dot the entire area with colors and tranquility. They are a symbol of national integrity and ethical harmony.
Puning Temple was constructed during the reign of Emperor Qianlong during 1755. The reason behind its construction was that Emperor Qianlong had successfully suppressed the rebellion of Junggar Tribe.
The Junggar Tribe was a powerful Mongolian tribe that rose to power in the early 17th century. By the late 17th century they had occupied the entire area around Ili River and became leaders of the four main Mongolian tribes during that era.
The emperor of Qing dynasty sent the troops including Manchu, Xibe and Suolun troops to fortify their defense and suppress the Junggar Tribe’s rebellion in Xinjiang. After the success, the emperor invited the leaders of the four troops and ordered them to build the Puning Temple, which manifests national unity and cultural harmony.
The Eight Outer Temples
The constructed temple covers an area of 23,000 sq mts, and was fashioned after the Samye Monastery, which is a holy Lama site in Tibet. Hall of Great Buddha is the main building here. The hall is 36.75 meters in height and comprises of six storeys and many attics. The roof of the hall is dome shaped and is gold plated. The architecture here speaks of Chinese style temples and mosques. Hall of Great Buddha is complete with a 21.85 meters tall Bodhisattva statue that has over a thousand eyes. Weighing 110 tons, the statue rests on a locus or the source of power, which is 2.22 meters high, is made from wood and is gold plated.
The Bodhisattva statue has 42 hands out of which two are clasped together whereas the rest of them carry different types of musical instruments. This statue is mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records. After the temple was repaired, its aesthetical value increased and it was amongst the first set of ‘4A’ attractions of China. It was given the status of World Heritage Site in 1994 by UNESCO.
On the four sides of the Hall there are four pagodas – black, white, red and green, and eight tall white terraces. The pagodas and terraces speak of the Tibetan style architecture.
Right next to the Hall of Great Buddha there are Miaoyan Room and the Hall of Scripture reading. This reading room was where the emperors of Qing dynasty listened to the preaching of learned men and also took rest.
The temple grounds were consisted of wooden memorial archways. However they don’t exist today. During the Qing dynasty each year on 25th December and 8th January, a temple fair was held. This fair attracted lamas and Buddhists from other Outer Temples and far and near land.