The White Tower in the Miaoying Temple

The white tower in the Miaoying Temple lies on the north side of the Fuchengmen Nei Street in Xicheng District. It faces the white tower in the Beihai Park in the east west direction The tower was designed and built in the 8th year (1271) of the Zhiyuan reign of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) by a Nepalese craftsman named Aniko. Being 50.9 meters high, it’s the largest and the oldest existent Lama tower in China. An epitaph of the Yuan Dynasty described the tower this way: “ Magnificent and grand, it bespeaks dignity and power; it’s truly a rare treasure of in the architectural history.” The temple was originally named Dashengshou Wan’an Temple by the Yuan emperor and it was much larger than the present one. The Yuan emperors also delimited an area of 160,000 sqm around the tower by shooting arrows to all the directions. But today, only an area of 1.3sqm area is left.

“Touring the white tower in the eighth day of the lunar August” had been a local folk tradition for the Beijingers. At the end of the Qing Dynasty, the tower had been the famous place for temple fair. During the Republic of China, the White Tower temple fair was one of the two major fairs — the other was held in the Longfu Temple.

It’s well known to local Beijingers that the White Tower has no shadow, which is a unique allurement of this tower. Either in bright sunlight or in the moonlight, you’ll find no tower shadows around it. In sunny days, when looking into the sky at the foot of the tower, you will feel that the tower shakes lightly; in moonlight, when watching the tower in the surrounding hutongs, you will feel the tower on light movements. Later, some scientists discovered the “mystery” — the densely populated habitats around the tower received the shadow and hided it from the tourists’ sight.

The skyscraping tower is surrounded by the sequestered and winding hutongs, which adds more charm to the area.