Yunju Temple (Yunju Si, 云居寺, literally "Temple of Cloud Dwelling), alternatively Xiyu Temple (Xiyu Si, 西峪寺, literally "Temple of the West Valley"), is a temple in southwestern Beijing, most known for its stone Buddhist scriptures. Before September 1999, the stone scriptures were actually visible to the visitors; however, they were later stored away, and only a portion remain visible behind glass windows.
The temple is situated at the west foot of Shijing Mountain to the southwest of Beijing. It is around 75 km from the centre of Beijing.
Yunju Temple was first built in the 7th century. The temple was then progressively expanded and rebuilt in successive dynasties. However, it suffered destruction in the 1930s due to war. Reconstruction started again the 1980s, although the scale of the current temple is still far smaller than the original temple.
14,278 stone slabs dating back to over a thousand years are stored in the temple. On them are inscribed Buddhist scriptures. Beginning in the early 7th century, a monk (Mong Jingwan) carved the stones continuously for over 30 years until they were completed in 637.
In 1980, all stone scripture slabs were kept in an exhibition hall. However, due to the effects of air exposure, it was decided that they must be relocated to a location where climatic conditions could be controlled to preserve the slabs. For 19 years, some slabs suffered deterioration.
In September 1999, the stone slabs were relocated to a subterranean exhibition hall where only some slabs were visible. All stone slabs were sealed behind a glass window. Such was the preservation work to allow future generations to view the slabs the way they were.
Take a section of China National Highway 107. There are signposts guiding you to the temple (mostly in Chinese characters). The final leg will be on some local roads which offer glorious views.