Temples in Shanxi Mount Wutai, China

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Temples in Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai ("Mt. Five Platforms" in Chinese) is located in the northeastern part of Wutai County of Shanxi Province covering an area of 2837 square kilometers.

It's regarded as one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China, the other three being Mt. Emei in Sichuan Province, Putuo in Zhejiang Province, Jiuhua in Anhui Province. The names of those mountains came from five peaks - Central Peak, East Peak, West Peak, West Peak, South Peak, and North Peak.

On this mountain there the many peaks, such as the Watching See Peak in the east, Hanging Moon Peak in the west, Splendid Peak in the south, to name only a few. Tier upon tiers of mountains are covered with green trees, springs and rivulets spread everywhere, deep ditches, basins crisscross with hills.

Numerous temples of different dynasties formed the place. A summer resort with a moderate climate and beautiful scenery tinted with a thick atmosphere of Buddhism.

For many centuries, Mount Wutai serves as the Holy Land for both the Han and Tibetan Buddhism. Because of its Buddhist activities, it becomes a popular place for many to worship. Surrounded by mountain peaks, Taihuai Town is centrally located in Mount Wutai and has the most temples in the mountain.

Besides the morning and evening Buddhist scriptures singing lessons, lectures and discussions on Buddhism are the main activities in Mount Wutai. The lecturer usually belongs to a famous monk.

According to historical record, people come to attend the lecture would from few believers to thousands. In the reign of Emperor Dezong (778A.D.) in Tang Dynasty, when Buddha Master Cheng Guan gave lectures in Grand Huayan Temple on "Explanation on Huayan Buddhist scripture" draw thousands of monks to the temple to listen.

In 1980, the whole monks nearby Mount Wutai came when Erdeni Quejijianzhan - the later Banchan Lama gave lectures in Grand Huayan Temple. The Tang Poet Du Fu once wrote poems to praise the influence of Buddhism to the common people. Two lines of his poem;

"Four hundred eighty temples from Southern Dynasty; Countless terraces within mist and rain."

The poem described the temple construction in Mount Wutai during the thousand years from the Southern and Northern Dynasty to Tang Dynasty (420~907A.D.). Mount Wutai takes a very important position in Buddhist construction and it regarded as the "Treasure House of Ancient Constructions".

The temples in Mount Wutai became popular since Sui and Tang Dynasty.

The Nanchan Temple, Foguang Temple, Yanqing Temple, Guangji Temple, Pusading Temple, and Zunsheng Temple and many others represented the ancient wood structure works. They were regards as the "Treasures of Thousand" by architects from home and aboard.

These wood structures setup examples for the later generation to study on. Take Nanchan Temple as example, built in 782AD, the Buddhist statures in the temple are almost identical as those in Dunhuang Mogao Grottos and have very high artistic value.

Foguang Temple, built in Northern Wei Dynasty (471-499A.D.), destroyed during wartime, and later reconstructed in 857AD. Xiantong Temple was largest in the mountain covers an area of 120 acres and has more than 400 halls. Its prototype, Lingjiu Temple later renamed to The Grand Huayan Temple in Tang Dynasty, is the first temple in the mountain continuously enlarged and became the most famous temple in Mount Wutai.

Valuable relics can be seen everywhere in the temple, where the white jade structures were just as vivid and valuable as those of the wood-made.

There are now 58 temples in Mount Wutai; each has its own characteristic. It is hard to find a group of temples in such a large scale among all the famous mountains. Those temples fully display the Buddhist arts in construction, sculpture, mural painting, and almost complete collection of Buddhist arts.

No wonder after visiting Mount Wutai, people think that the whole mountain does not only own the beautiful scenery but it is really "A hundred palaces of art in a single history book of Buddhist kingdom".

If you are Buddhists, Mount Wutai is the right place for you to purify your hearts, if you are interested in historical relics and old constructions, you are recommend to come here. You won't be empty-handed, just like those who have been back from a mountain of treasures; If you are someone who want to enjoy a quite and relax holiday, Mount Wutai bring you undisturbed fairyland.

Naturally, it can provide every traveler with a delightful cool world with beautiful landscape.