Eight Outer Monasteries

On the eastern and northern slopes of the Mountain Resort, this collection of temples offers a powerful insight into Chengde's role as not just a royal getaway, but as a political arena. Each temple was built to reflect the architectural style of a different minority, so when meetings with rival border groups took place, they provided handy diplomatic currency (the large Tibetan influence was for the benefit of the Mongols, who were devout Lamaists).

Of the dozen monasteries originally built during the Qing Dynasty, only eight survive today in good condition (two were destroyed, two are now dilapidated). Just a few are open to the public. Buses Nos. 6 and 10 take visitors from the Mountain Resort to the eastern and northern temples respectively. If you're strapped for time prioritize the Temple of Potaraka Doctrine, which is a stunning replica of Tibet's Potala Palace, and the Temple of Universal Peace, which is still in use by monks today. The other temples include the Temple of Universal Happiness, Anyuan Temple, and Puren Temple.

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