On this trip, you’ll get some good—but not tough—exercise, and will have plenty of time to look around Tanzhe Temple. You’ll also get a great meal of Chinese food at one of the restaurants just outside the temple.
The trail begins and ends near Tanzhesi, a temple originally built in the Jin Dynasty (265-420 A.D.) and added to and expanded in succeeding dynasties.
Before visiting the temple we’ll take a stroll around the mostly-deserted but very interesting Ingot Village. The hillside village is made up of many old houses built around courtyards, and includes an old temple and dried up waterways, as well as a precariously balanced ingot-shaped rock.
The houses of Ingot Village cover quite a large area, and are in various states of repair and disrepair. We’ll start off by exploring the temple and courtyards in the upper end of the village before following one of the paved paths downhill, heading for the fields and terraces below the village. The village is now mostly deserted, due to lack of water and the effects of coal mining in the area.
From the lower part of the village we will follow a hill trail up to the main road, with an optional detour to check out a cave hideout used by villagers in the Second World War. From the main road, we’ll follow a nice trail down through a pine forest, ending up at Tanzhe Temple.
Tanzhe Temple covers an area of six hectares, and is said to be the oldest temple in the Beijing area, even older than Beijing city. Many of the buildings that can be seen in the temple were built during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) Dynasties, but pagodas and other structures from the earlier Jin and Yuan (1271–1368) Dynasties still remain, including two ‘Emperor Trees’ that were planted roughly 1,000 years ago.
We’ll take a walk up the central axis of the temple, and then explore the side trails on the way back down.
Also in the temple
The Floating Cup Pavilion, where the Emperor Qianlong and his courtiers used to play an interesting drinking game.
The Big Bronze Boiler, left over from the old kitchens of the temple. It’s said that one boiler-worth of porridge could feed all the temple’s monks for a whole day.
The Diamond Life-Extension Tower, a white stupa by a pool at the northern end of the temple complex.
Nearby the temple
The Pagoda Forest, where pagodas mark where the ashes of important monks are interred. We’ll visit after we’ve finished looking about the temple.
What to bring on this outing
- Sun protection: hat, long-sleeved shirt
- A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
- Comfortable shoes with some grip on the soles
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this trip
- There’s not a whole lot of hiking – it’s more of a walk.
- There is one short but steep hill climb – that part of the day is not so much like a walk!