Situated in the Western Hills, 45 km west of Beijing City, the Tanzhe Temple (Pool and the Wild Mulberry Temple) was first built in the Western Jin and Eastern Jin dynasties (265-420AD), when it was known as the Temple of Excellent Blessings. In the Tang Dynasty it was renamed the Dragon Spring Temple and in the Jin Dynasty rebuilt as the Temple of Longevity. Additions were made to it in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and during the Kangxi reign it was rebuilt and renamed the Temple of Hill and Cloud. The present name of the temple refers to the Dragon Pool (Longtan) above the temple and the wild mulberry (Zhe) trees growing in the surrounding hills. For Centuries, there has been a saying: "First there was the Pool & Wild Mulberry Temple, and then came Beijing."
The temple was built into the landscape and laid out in a beautiful setting. The central axis consists of the main gate and the front, main and rear halls. Many cultural relics are to be found in this architectural group, the most interesting being a statue of Princess Miaoyan, daughter of Kublai Khan. Among the other relics is an image of the monk Yao Guangxiao, an imperial tutor during the Ming Dynasty. On the eastern side of the Mahavira Hall stands an ancient gingko tree known as the Emperor's Tree. It is nearly 30 meters high and is said to have been planted in the Liao Dynasty. There is another symmetrically placed gingko growing on the western side of the hall called the Emperor's Companion Tree. The pines along the central axis are particularly grand and besides them there are magnolia trees and a variety of other rare flowers and shrubs.
On the eastern axis are the rooms where the Qing emperors rested during their visits to the hills. The architectural style employed here differs substantially from that in the temple. The western axis is comprised of a number of scattered buildings. Although the overall layout gives the impression of solemn regularity, the square and round Buddhist halls with their colorful glazed tile roofs are very beautiful. The highest point in this section is the Hall of the Goddess of Mercy. Great numbers of tiny bells hang from its corners and make a delightful tinkling sound when the wind blows.
Outside the main gate are two other points of interest: the Hall of Peaceful Joy (Anletang); and the stupa park, containing the tombs of monks from the Liao and Jin dynasties. Originally, there were numerous wild mulberry trees in the park, but now only one remains in the eastern section.