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Situated in Fayuansi Qian Jie off Niu Jie in the Xuanwumen district, this temple is in the southwest quarter of the city. It was built by the Tang emperor, Taizong, in AD 654 in memory of troops killed in a battle with the Koreans and has been restored many times since. Two pagodas used to stand beside the temple, but they were destroyed by fire in the middle of the Tang period. It was at Fayuansi that Song Minister Xie Dieshan, brought under guard by Yuan troops to Beijing, chose to starve himself to death rather than submit to the Mongols.

The Fayuansi comprises six courtyards planted with lilac trees. In the past, the temple was obliged to lay on a series of vegetarian banquets every spring for local dignitaries, for it is an age-old Chinese custom to spend a convivial evening wining and dining with crowds of friends on the pretext of admiring the season’s new blooms.

The present occupants belong to the Chinese Buddhist Theorecical Institute, and the temple buildings now provide accommodation and classrooms for a number of novice monks. The temple is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.

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