Dà Zhào

Top choice monastery in Hohhot

This spectacular Tibetan Buddhist temple is the oldest and largest temple in the city. Also called 'Immeasurable Temple' (无量寺; Wúliàng Sì) in Chinese, the complex was originally built in the 16th century and much enhanced in the following century. A very sacred place and a fascinating introduction to the mysterious ways of Tibetan Buddhism, Dà Zhào attracts pilgrims from across the land, who prostrate themselves fully in prayer on boards in front of the magnificent altars through the temple.

Look for the amazing-looking and blue-faced Medicine Buddha (药师佛; Yàoshī Fó) seated in his namesake hall and garbed in the most astonishing fashion. Also seek out the many-armed golden deity in the esoteric Mìzōng Hùfǎ Hall (密宗护法殿; Mìzōng Hùfǎ Diàn), the central tantric deity within the Shènglè Jīngāng Hall (胜乐金刚殿; Shènglè Jīngāng Diàn) and the huge jade Buddha residing in the Jade Buddha Hall (玉佛殿; Yùfó Diàn). The temple is also home to a 2.55m silver effigy of Sakyamuni, contained within the Buddha Hall (佛堂; Fótáng). In other halls, pilgrims walk in clockwise fashion around altars, twirling prayer wheels, lost in prayer.

The plaza south of the temple is popular with kite-flyers and is great for people-watching. There's an attractive decorative archway and a vast statue of Altan Khan (1507–82), the Mongol founder of the city and ruler who began building the temple.