Dragons nestle in the mountains outside Beijing

Updated: Sep 15, 2022 By Michael Rhys Card China Daily Print
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Michael Rhys Card.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The temple complex itself is home to many such statues, which never cease to amaze me with their massive scale and colorful paintwork. Unlike many temples with perhaps more subtle sculptures of serene and peaceful gods, Baipu's statues are of wrathful-looking warriors, wielding deadly weapons, and vast dragons encircling a huge bell in the center of the complex.

This central structure, with its waterfalls and golden koi carp surrounding the entanglement of dragons, phoenix and somewhat creepy golden babies, is undoubtedly the most popular. Visitors are given the chance (for a small fee) to ring the central bell, and if they do so three times, their names will be engraved on a small Buddha and placed in a grotto further up the mountainside.

In stark contrast is the remaining pagoda, which survives from the earliest iteration of the temple. This structure seems to pale in comparison to the grandiose architecture that now overshadows it. Its plain stonework and simple carvings give a very different impression than that of the golden gods and goddesses just a few meters away. This contrast did make me wonder about the decision to give the temple such a drastic visual change of direction, but unfortunately there is little information available about why this happened-at least in English-so it's my hope to visit this incredibly unique place again and try to learn more about its history, both ancient and modern.

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