Get a taste of Tibetan Buddhism, without the possibility of altitude sickness! The Beijing Yonghegong Lama Temple and the nearby... more » hutongs of the Guluo (Drum Tower) district are easily reached by subway and explored on foot.
Lamaism is the sect of Buddhism followed in Tibet, Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai, and parts of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces and is named after 'lama', the Tibetan word for teacher. During the Mongolian-led Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) Lamaism became the official religion of China. The Manchu people of north eastern China adopted Lamaism around this time and, later, during the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Tibetan Buddhism was also practiced in the Chinese imperial court.
Hutongs are a type of narrow residential street or alley, and are the traditional architecture of Beijing. Hutong neighborhoods are were formed by joining lines of "siheyuan" (traditional courtyard residences) together - one hutong would then be joined to another. To get better lighting, nearly all "siheyuan" had their main buildings and gates facing south; thus a majority of hutongs run from east to west. Nanluoguxiang, which runs from north to south, connects eight of these "siheyuan" hutongs.
Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, many of the old hutongs of Beijing disappeared to make way for modern streets and high rises. In the latter part of the twentieth century, following public outcry over the destruction of Beijing's architectural heritage, some of Beijing's remaining hutong areas were given protected status and encouraged to regenerate. Nanluoguxiang has been one of these areas since 1990. less «