Pool and Cudrania Temple

In between the Mahavira Hall and Vairochana Pavilion, Pool and Cudrania Temple is situated 45 kilometres west of the city. For centuries, there has been a saying: “First there was the Pool and Cudrania Temple, then came Beijing.” It dates back 1,600 years to the Jin Dynasty, when it was known as the Temple of Auspicious Fortune. In the Tang Dynasty, it was expanded and renamed the Dragon Spring Temple. It has been popularly known as the Pool and Cudrania Temple because of the Dragon Pool and cudrania trees on the hill behind the temple. The buildings were mostly rebuilt in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The temple was built into the landscape and laid out in a beautiful setting. In front of the gate are ancient pines believed to be several hundred years old. Several groups of buildings stand on the terraces one higher than the other.  Their distribution is symmetrical, typical of Ming temple architecture.                                              

The buildings spacious and imposing, are arranged in three main north-south axes. Along the central axis are the Archway, the Front Gate, Deveraja Hall, Mahavira Hall and Vairochana Pavilion.
Hall of Heavenly Kings
Chiwen refers to the glazed-tiled figures and animals on the ridge of the roof. The roofs of the ancient Chinese buildings were constructed with decorations in a unique style and in various forms. On the ridge of the roof are Chiwen, one at each end. Legend has it that Chiwen is one of the nine sons of the dragon living in the South Sea and can make rain to prevent fire.
Chiwen decorations first appeared in the first century B. C. It has a fan shaped sword on its back and is supposedly fixed on the roof, so that it can not run away. The pair of Chiwen here, bright and vivid, date back to the Yuan Dynasty and are rarely seen in the Beijing area.
Daxiongbaodian (Mahavira Hall)
Daxiong means a powerful warrior with dauntless courage, an honorable title for Sakyamuni. In the hall there is a statue of Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism. He preached Buddhism for 45 years and died at the age of 80.
On the right is a statue of Mahakasyapa, one of the ten disciples of Sakyamuni. It is said that he was of eminent virtue and was reckoned to be the first patriarch. After Sakyamuni died he continued his career.
On the left is a statue of Ananda. Also one of the ten disciples of Sakyatnuni, Ananda was the master of hearing and memory and was reckoned to be the second patriarch. He followed Sakyamuni for more than 20 years and is said to have compiled the Buddhist sutras. Dressed as a monk, he often appears together with Mahakasyapa in front of Sakyamuni.
“Emperor of Trees”
In between the Mahavira Hall and Vairochana Pavilion grows an ancient gingko tree, known as the “Emperor of Trees.” The name was given by Qing Emperor Qianlong. The gingko tree is said to have been planted in the Liao Dynasty with a history of over one thousand years and is still a mass of branches and leaves. It is about 40 metres high and takes six people with their arms outstretched to encircle it. Across to the west is another gingko, planted later. Male gingko tree is fruit-less while female gingko bears fruit either for eating or for use as medicine.
Vairochana Pavilion
The Vairochana Pavilion is the highest building on the central axis. It offers an excellent view of the temple grounds and the surrounding hills. The Pavilion is a 2-storey structure.
On the first floor, there are five statues. From left to right:
The first one is Maitreya, standing for wisdom.
The second one stands for undertaking.
The third shows the Buddha of the Future.
The fourth represents awakening.
The fifth symbolizes happiness and virtue.
Ordination Altar
The Ordination Altar is the place for the ordination of novices into the Buddhist priesthood.
Guanyin (Bodhisattva of Great Mercy) Hall
In the Guanyin Hall there used to be a “prayer brick” used by Yuan Princess Miaoyan, daughter of Kublai Khan. She lived as a nun in the temple and came here to pray everyday. Years later, her foot-prints were deeply marked on the brick where she stood. Hence the name: the “prayer brick.”
Stone Fish
West of Guanyin Hall stands the Hall of the Dragon King which is located in the northwest extremity of the temple. In the aisle of the hall is a stone fish, 1. 5 metres long, weighing 75 kilos. When struck, it produces clear and pleasing sound. It was made in Emperor Kangxi’s time.  Legend has it that Dragon King presented the stone fish, a treasure of the Dragon Palace in the South Sea, to the Jade Emperor (the Supreme Deity of Taoism). When there was a serious drought and when epidemics ran amuck, the Jade Emperor bestowed the stone fish on the Pool and Cudrania Temple to help people dispel calamities. One night, the stone fish descended from the sky and landed on the court-yard. The scaly body of the fish was divided into 13 parts, representing 13 provinces. Whenever the part for the province was struck, there would be rain for that province. The stone fish is a reproduction.
Floating Cups Pavilion
To the east of the central axis is a group of buildings in traditional Chinese courtyard style: abbot’s rooms and two palaces for the Qing emperors when they visited the temple. In the courtyard stands the Floating Cups Pavilion. On the marble floor of the pavilion is a shallow channel shaped like a coiled dragon through which the spring water flows. In the old days people used to float wine cups on the spring water. The cups were carried along the channel to other spots where other people would pick them up and drink the wine. This place has got a beautiful name: Floating Wine Cups in the Winding Stream.
Bronze Cauldron
East of the Hall of Heavenly Kings is a kitchen used by the monks in the past.  In the kitchen is a bronze cauldron, 1.1 metres high and 1.85 metres in diameter. This cauldron was used by the monks for cooking vegetables.
In front of the temple stands the Hall of Ease and Joy, formerly the quarters for the monks after retirement. Further down is the pagoda courtyard which contains a total of 72 pagodas dating from the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Built during different periods and indifferent styles, the pagodas make valuable material in the study of pagoda architecture. These pagodas are listed as historical relics under speical preservation.
Dragon Pool
The Dragon Pool is located on the hill behind the temple. In the old days, the spring water was very clear and flowed down in a constant stream. Unfortunately, the pool has dried up.
More than one thousand years ago, China began to use cudrania for silk-worm raising. Cudrania blooms in summer. Its fruit is edible, and its roots, bark and stem can be used as medicine.

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