Beijing Great Bell Temple (大钟寺)

China Children’s Computer Contest

An intense start to this year’s China Children’s Computer Contest sponsored by VIA and HTC. Today the venue moves to the gymnasium at Beihang University for the maker segment of the event.

One of my favorite aspects of the competition is that it attracts a lot of interest from students and teachers in China’s rural areas where educational resources are not as rich as they are in the major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. There’s a huge amount of young talent out in the countryside. The challenge is how to nurture it more effectively so that rural children can take full advantage of the opportunities resulting from China’s growth just like their urban counterparts.

Great Bell Temple

In the afternoon, I managed to some time for a quick trip to the Great Bell Temple (大钟寺), a couple of stops down on subway line 13 from Wudaokou. This was originally constructed in 1733 as a Buddhist establishment called the Juesheng Temple. It became known as the Great Bell Temple after a giant hulking bell that was made during the first year of the reign of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle in 1403 was moved.

Great Bell Temple

With a weight of 46.5 tons and a height of 22.77 feet (6.94 meters), the bell had to be transported there from the center of the city over a frozen canal specifically built for the task. It is housed in a lovely pavilion at the rear of the complex that unfortunately is currently closed due to renovations. A pity that I didn’t get the chance to see the Buddhist sutras comprising over 227,000 Chinese characters inscribed on it!

Great Bell Temple

In 1985 the temple was converted into the Ancient Bell Museum (古钟博物馆) featuring exhibits of bells dating back almost to the dawn of recorded antiquity. Highlights include a magnificent replica and in some parts reimagination of a collection of chime bells found in the recently-discovered fifth century BCE tomb of a Marquis of Zeng and a pavilion featuring a wonderful display of Buddhist, Daoist, and other bells from China’s many different imperial dynasties. The English descriptions of the exhibits are excellent, adding color and context to what I’m sure most people would regard as a rather dry subject.

Beijing Great Bell Temple

The Great Bell Temple complex itself is pleasant without being particularly distinctive in an architectural sense. Although not one of Beijing’s top historical sites, it’s an interesting place to visit.

Beijing Great Bell Temple

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