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Saturday, July 9, 2011

No. 48: Lingguang Temple, Beijing

The well-venerated base is all that remains of the Buddha's Tooth Relic Pagoda (佛牙
舍利塔) at Lingguang Temple (灵光寺), one of the "Eight Great Sites" (八大处=Badachu) in
western Beijing (北京). The newly-built replacement can be seen in the upper right.
My next temple trip took place in the summer of 2011. A local businessman, a student of mine, offered to take me along on a business trip to Beijing. He put me in one of the most expensive hotels in the capital, and paid for a car and driver to take me around. A five-star pilgrim!

My first goal was Badachu ("Eight Great Sites") Park at the base of the Western Hills. I saw six of the eight that day!

The only one on my list of 142 temples was the "Sheli Ta" or Relic Pagoda located at Lingguang Temple. The new pagoda is big and beautiful; but for beauty's sake the real attraction is the pedestal of the original pagoda.

It's quite a story. The original was built in 1071, during the Liao Dynasty. It stood until 1900. Lingguang Temple had housed some of the Boxers who had besieged the legations of the "Eight-Nation Alliance" (or "Eight Foreign Powers"); to punish the monks, the foreigners fired cannon at the old pagoda, reducing it to rubble.

A year later, in 1901, the monks from Lingguang found a box in the debris marked "Holy Tooth Relic of Sakyamuni, April 23, Seventh Year of the Reign of Tianhui"--or 963, about 100 years before the pagoda was built to house it.

The tooth has since made trips to other countries, and the new pagoda is opened yearly for veneration.

Two other interesting things on the grounds are retaining walls decorated in one case with the Heart Sutra carved in large figures; and in the second, with bas-reliefs of the 500 arhats.

And so began a fascinating day's visit to Badachu.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily February 18, 2013.)

GPS Info:
  • 39.95720, 116.18306



Map:




GALLERY

The modern Relic Pagoda towers over its surroundings in Badachu Park, Beijing
This wall inscribed with the Heart Sutra stands near the new pagoda
Above the Heart Sutra Wall, this wall features the 500 Arhats
The base of the Liang-Dynasty Relic Pagoda, with the modern pagoda in the background (postcard above)

Click here to visit the next article in chronological order || Click here to view the trip details

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