In my latest weekend escapade, I visited the Dazhenjue Temple, meaning the Temple of Great Righteous Awakening, or just Wutasi, the Five Pagoda Temple, as the building became known in modern Beijing.
The Indian-style construction makes this temple one of only six of its kind in China. Legend says that a high-ranking Indian monk brought the plans of the building to China during the reign of emperor Yong Le, but the construction was only completed around 60 years later in 1473, under emperor Chenghua.
Twice this temple was looted and all surrounding constructions burnt to the ground. First, during the Second Opium War, in 1860, by the French and British soldiers, and then during the Boxer Rebellion, in 1900, by the Eight-Nation Alliance, formed by the Russian, Japanese, British (with Australia and India fighting under the British flag), French, American, German, Italian and Austria-Hungarian armies. The only original building that still stands is the temple itself with the five pagodas, made of white marble.