Dongyue Temple – Beijing, China - Atlas Obscura

Dongyue Temple

This sensational Chinese temple walks visitors through the 76 weird departments of the afterlife. 


You know what happens when you betray the secrets of your feudal lord? You get your ghostly tongue sawed off in the afterlife by a finely muscled red boar demon, that’s what.

Beijing’s Dongyue Temple is like the DMV of Daoist hells, an Asian Dante’s Inferno, a strip mall of underworld bureaucracy where justice is, at long last, served. Enclaves around the edges of the temple hold statues representing the 76 departments of the supernatural kingdom, including, you’ll be pleased to note, “The Department of Controlling Theft and Robbery,” the “Department of Distribution of Medication, the “Department of Paying Back Evil with Evil,” and the ever-popular “Unjust Death Department.”

Appeals for posthumous vengeance or absolution can be made via a donation box at the mouth of each enclave, so if you’ve got a lot of beefs to rectify, bring a stack of small change.

Construction started on the building in 1319, with the last round of post-Cultural Revolution renovations in 2002. If the hundreds of gruesome torture scenes enacted by animal-headed spirit totems aren’t your thing, the grounds are also pleasantly peppered with calligraphic stelles, including one credited to a Yuan Dynasty prince.

Know Before You Go

Dongyue Temple is right on a major road and not difficult to find. It shares the same complex with the Beijing Folk Art Museum

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May 8, 2015

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