There is a long history of Yonghegong in China. Building work on the Yonghegong started in 1694 during the Qing dynasty. It originally served as an official residence for court eunuchs. It was then converted into the residence of Yinzhen (Prince Yong), the fourth son of the Kangxi Emperor. After Prince Yong ascended the throne as the Yongzheng Emperor in 1722, half of the building was converted into a lamasery, a monastery for monks of Tibetan Buddhism. The other half remained an imperial palace.
After the Yongzheng Emperor's death in 1735, his coffin was placed in the temple. The Qianlong Emperor, who succeeded the Yongzheng Emperor, gave the temple imperial status signified by having its turquoise tiles replaced with yellow tiles which were reserved for the emperor. Subsequently, the monastery became a residence for large numbers of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Mongolia and Tibet, and so the Yonghe Lamasery became the national centre of Lama administration.
After the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, the temple was declared a national monument and closed for the following 32 years. It is said to have survived the Cultural Revolution due to the intervention of Premier Zhou Enlai. Reopened to the public in 1981, it is today both a functioning temple and highly popular tourist attraction in the city.
In Yonghegong, Lama Tsongkhapa statue was located at the Hall of the Wheel of the Law which functions as a place for reading scriptures and conducting religious ceremonies.
It’s a rejoicing news to know that China is restoring Lama Tsongkhapa statue to continue to preserve the Gelug lineage through the tradition lineage. The statue not just a historical monument but is also a proof of how great Chinese Emperor embrace the Tibetan Buddhism teaching during that time. This definitely create the seed to many people to be able to meet the teaching in that country when the time is right.