Located in the Szechuan province, you will find Emei Shan (or Mount Emei), which is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. Measuring 3,099m, the mountain is significant because it is more than 1,000m taller than the other three sacred mountains. In this article, you will learn more about the religious and cultural history of the mountain.
Emei Shan has a long history , inhabited since as early as 10,000 years ago when it was originally used as a Taoist retreat. By the 3rd century AD, the site became a sacred Buddhist mountain. Over the years, the mountain underwent many different changes in regards to the culture and religion. A medicinal plant farmer named Pugong constructed the Puguang Hall on the Golden Summit during the 1st century AD.
The Puxian form of Buddhism emerged during the 3rd century. This is a religion that relies on the teachings and devotion associated with the Bodhisattva Puxian (or Samantabhadra). It became widely accepted on the mountain. It was then that the Chinese monk Huichi built the Puxian Temple (which is now known as the Wannian Temple). The building was situated at the foot of the Guanxinpo Terrace.
In the middle of the 9th century, the Song Emperor Zhao Kuangyin sent out a Buddhist mission to India. Upon returning, the authorization was given to build temples on the mountain. This is where preaching and translations of the Indian Buddhist texts took place. A Puxian bronze statue that is now found in the Wannian Temple was constructed , it weighed 62 tons.
As time passed, Mount Emei has become known as one of the holiest of places linked to the Buddhist religion. During the Ming dynasty, a lot of rebuilding went on. Most of the Taoist temples that had been established on Emei were converted into Buddhist places of worship. For nearly 2,000 years, pilgrims and tourists have been coming to Emei Shan. In 1996, it was given the status of a World Heritage Site.
Tourists come to Emei Shan to take in the beautiful natural sights. A great deal of outdoor scenery, temples and other features are embraced by visitors. The wildlife is highly regarded, including the birds. The monkeys of the mountain often socialize with tourists and have been known to beg for food or grab the bags of hikers that travel about the trails. Trees are another highlight of the mountain with some of them older than 1,000 years old.
With more than 30 Buddhist temples to explore, Emei Shan has 10 sites that are rather large and old. Other attractions that a tourist may find interesting include:
”¢ Baoguo Monastery , Located at the mountain base, it dates back to the 16th century and has a garden filled with rare plants. A large porcelain Buddha is also an attraction.
”¢ Crouching Tiger Monastery , The largest temple on the mountain was at one time linked to the Taoist martial-arts master Zhang Sanfeng. Today, it serves as a Guanyin nunnery.
”¢ Qingyin Pavilion , You will find this site along the mountainside at the foot of the Niuxin Ridge, which offer a collection of pavilions, towers, and platforms. Some of the features date back to the early 6th century.