Unsurprisingly, given that the very name Badachu means “Eight Great Sites,” what one finds here is not a single temple but a complex of eight different religious structures.
Spread out over the slopes of three of Beijing’s Western Hills, the temples’ area begins at the end of a valley and rises up almost to a peak. Many visitors prefer to stroll around the lower reaches rather than to climb up too far, but the way up proved to be quite interesting.
(And for those who really want to get farther up but really don’t want to climb up themselves, there is a chair lift…)
In the temple(s) complex, one finds:
- Cháng’ān sì (长安寺), Temple of Eternal Peace
- Língguāng sì (灵光寺), Temple of Divine Light
- Sānshān ān (三山庵), Three-Hills Nunnery
- Dàbēi sì (大悲寺), Temple of Great Mercy
- Lóngquán ān (龙泉庵), Dragon Spring Nunnery
- Xiāngjiè sì (香界寺), Temple of the Fragrant World
- Baozhū dòng (宝珠洞), Precious Pearl Cave
- Zhèngguo sì (正果寺), Temple of Thorough Transformation
Having such a plethora of temple structures comes with the usual advantages and disadvantages: There is a lot to explore, but there is also rather too much that is all too similar.
In the end, then, only the more-noticeable structures or special happenings stand out, everything else becomes a blur of buildings.
Noticeable Structures of Badachu
Not actually a structure, but quite noticeable soon after walking in: A tree at the passage into the temple complex is hung with red well-wishing strips of textile. The connection of nature and spirituality is quite interesting, and it looks pretty, too.
Among structures proper, the one that truly stands out is the Buddha’s Tooth Pagoda (Fo-ya-ta) which is a part of Lingguang Temple. The pagoda is quite interestingly connected with history:
It is named after the relic which was found in the remains of an earlier Liao Dynasty pagoda that stood in Badachu.
The tooth of the Buddha is quite a rare and important relic; that it even made its way to China and was placed here around 1170 shows the connections that existed. Of that original Zhaoxian Pagoda, only the foundation remains as it was destroyed by the (foreign) Eight-Nations-Alliance that struck down the Boxer Rebellion.
This new pagoda is also quite interesting as it was built in 1956, the year that the Hundred-Flowers Movement, still under Chairman Mao Zedong, encouraged open criticism (only to be followed by a crackdown on such dissent).
(Looking further for information, one can find dissent even here. China.org.cn, for example, writes that:
In 1949, under the sponsorship of Buddhist circles of Beijing, preparations were begun to build a pagoda. Construction started in the summer of 1958 and was completed in the spring of 1964.http://www.china.org.cn/english/TR-e/43255.htm
When I went to visit Badachu, I happened to go on what turned out to be Hanyijie, the “Winter Clothes Festival.” It was a reason for many people to come (in winter clothes) and deliver their well-wishes.
Not only on the straps hung on the tree at the entrance, but also to far-away people via smartphone recordings…