White Cloud Temple, once the Taoist centre of northern China, was founded in AD 739, although most of the temple halls date from the Qing dynasty. It’s a lively, huge and fascinating complex of shrines and courtyards, tended by Taoist monks with their hair gathered into topknots.
Near the temple entrance, worshippers rub a polished stone carving for good fortune. The halls at the temple, centre of operations for the Taoist Quanzhen School and abode of the China Taoist Association, are dedicated to a host of Taoist officials and marshals. The Hall of the Jade Emperor celebrates this most famous of Taoist deities, while Taoist housewives cluster earnestly at the Hall to the God of Wealth to divine their financial future. Depictions of the Taoist Hell festoon the walls of the Shrine Hall for the Saviour Worthy.
Drop by White Cloud Temple during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and you will be rewarded with the spectacle of a magnificent temple fair (miàohuì).
The temple is about a 1km walk from Muxidi subway station. Come out of exit C1, walk past the Capital Museum, then turn right down Baiyun Lu. After crossing the canal, take the second left, down Baiyunguan Jie, and the temple will be on your left.