The Lama Temple, or Yonghegong, is one of the most prominent Tibetan Buddhist temples outside of Tibet, and it is definitely the most colorful in Beijing. The temple was originally a palace for soon-to-be Qing Emperor Yong Zheng. When he assumed the throne in 1723, the palace was converted into a lamasery for Mongolian and Tibetan monks. The most impressive sight at the temple is a 55-foot (17m) high statue of the Maitreya Buddha that is carved out of a single block of sandalwood. The statue actually extends another 20ft (6m) below ground. At the rear of the temple are some impressive exhibits featuring Tibetan articles and other items.
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