The Yunju Temple, a famous ancient Buddhist temple, is located south of Shangfang Mountain in a suburb of Beijing. The eminent monk Jingwan of Zhiquan Temple in Youzhou established the temple during the Sui Dynasty. The temple compound originally included a main hall surrounded by guesthouses and courtyards located to the north and south. Two towers dating from the Liao Dynasty stood on either side of the temple. During the Sino-Japanese War, the whole temple was destroyed except for the North Tower from the Liao Dynasty and four towers built during the Tang Dynasty.
Nine carved Sutra storage caves are located on Sutra hill to the northeast of the temple; the caves hold approximately 4,195 pieces of scripture from the Sui, Tang and late Ming dynasties. Leiyin Cave, the most famous one, has four stone columns, each of which has several hundred bas-relief josses; in all there are more than one thousand josses on the four columns, so they are often called the “Thousand Buddha Columns.” 146 flagstones with scriptures carved by Jingwan, the temple’s founder, are also mounted in the cave. Near the South Pagoda lies an additional sutra-cave which was discovered in 1956: 10,082 flagstones carved with 3,400 volumes of scriptures were excavated, making it the largest extant repository of stone-carved Buddhist sutras in China. All the sutras are originals; therefore, they provide valuable information about Chinese Buddhism, arts, architecture, social politics, economics, culture and folk customs, without the errors incorporated into subsequent copies.
Also on the site are various rare cultural relics like stone stupas, and steles from the late Liao Dynasty. Among the buildings, the famous Tang Pagoda and the Sutra-Insolating Platform are particularly exquisite, and hold an exalted place in the history of ancient Chinese architecture.