White Clouds Taoist Monastery

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Located approximately one kilometer south of the Yanjing Hotel on Binhe Road off Baiyun Road, the White Clouds Taoist Monastery is one of the most important Taoist temples in China. The first Taoist monastery was built on this spot in the eighth century, but the present incarnation is the result of two overhauls that took place in 1956 and 1981.

The most famous inhabitant of the monastery was the Yuan-dynasty monk, QiuChuji, to whom one of the halls is dedicated. The period during which Qiu rebuilt the monastery, around 1230, is regarded as its golden age.

Like all other religious institutions in China, the White Clouds Monastery was hit hard during the Cultural Revolution, but now 100 monks, including young adopts, live on the promises, all of whom belong to the chuanzhen sect of Taoism. The monastery is the headquarters of the China Taoist Association, and thus is actively involved in ‘foreign affairs’. The monastery performs a number of traditional Taoist ceremonies for a fee, and is crowded with believers and curiosity seekers on the two dozen Taoist holy days every year. In the old days, a grand three-day ritual including horse races in the street took place here during the first lunar month, but this practice has long ceased.

The monastery is laid out on three parallel axes, with the most important structures on the central axis. There is a peaceful courtyard containing an ordination platform that resembles a miniature outdoor stage in the rear section of the western axis. Immediately inside the main gate, there is a stone-lined pond spanned by a bridge with an oversize Chinese coin hanging from it. Good luck is accorded to whoever can hit the giant coin with a coin of the realm. All the profits go co the monastery.

The White Clouds Monastery is open everyday from 8.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m. There is a modest admission charge.

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