The Eight Outer Temples located in Chengde, Hebei Province, China were declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1994. The reason was to preserve the precious culture. These temples were built in the 18th century and reflect the Chinese as well as Tibetan style of architecture.
The temples manifest the culture and traditions of Chinese era during Qing Dynasty. The purpose of building these temples also included intention to impress the Mongolians and Tibetans. For this reason they were elaborately decorated with the sculptures and paintings that reflected these traditions and styles.
Amongst these Eight Outer Temples, Xumi Fushou Temple has the most interesting history. The temple was finished in 1780 to receive the Sixth Panchen Lama, who had arrived to Chengde in order to participate in the celebration of Emperor Qianlong’s 70th birthday. When the emperor came to know that the Sixth Panchen Lama is visiting him, he gave orders to build Xumi Fushou Temple almost a year before his arrival. The Lama also took almost a year to reach Chengde.
The complete construction of the temple coincided with Lama’s arrival. The lama stayed here for a month and three days before returning back to Tibet. Xumi Fushou Temple is modeled after Tashilhunpo – the Lama’s own abode, but manifests Chinese architecture.
The name of this temple also means blessing and longevity. The main building comprises of the Hall of Excellence and Grandeur or “Miaogao Zhuangyan Dian”. The roof is decorated with impressive eight golden dragons that are lively and are finely detailed. The northern end of the temple has the Octagonal Tower with glazed yellow tile roof.
Emperor Qianlong felt so privileged upon the arrival of the Lama that in the inscription carved on a tablet at the entrance of the temple (which rests on a tortoise carved out of stone) he emphasized that the lama visited him on his own initiative.
The Xumi Fushou Temple is built on a mountain slope. Though it was modeled after the Lama’s abode in Tibet, it’s design is slightly different. The temple is built on a central axis unlike the monasteries in Tibet that are scattered around a central main building. After the entrance you will come across an arched gateway that is complete with glazed tiles and magnificent dragon panels. There is a large red terrace in the center, and this is where the main temple is built. The roof is lined with eight golden dragons and eight ‘makaras’. This is where the Panchen Lama gave his sermons to the Qianlong Emperor.
Just on the right side of the temple lies Yuzuolou – a place where the emperor could rest in between the teachings during his visits to the Panchen Lama. The ‘Hall of Auspicious Omen and Joy in Law’ within Xumi Fushou Temple was the actual residence of the Lama, which is situated on the left side of the main terrace. The building was also known as Jixiang Faxi Dian. Lama’s entourage stayed in a building behind the main temple in the ‘Hall of the Source if Ten Thousand Laws.