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Saturday, July 9, 2011

EXTRA: Sanshan Nunnery and Baozhu Cave, Beijing

This quaint wooden gate presages the simplicity of Sanshan An (三山庵=
Three Mountain Nunnery) in Badachu (八大处) Park, Beijing (北京).
Leaving the Relic Pagoda, my student/patron and I walked toward the cable car station. On the way we passed tiny Sanshan Nunnery. Centered around one courtyard, it was built in 1151 and named for the three sets of hills where Badachu is located: Cuiwei, Pinpo, and Lushi Hills. It was quaint, but only took a moment for viewing.

We then pressed on to the station, where we bought tickets to the top of Pinpo Hill where Baozhu ("Precious Pearl") Cave is located. On the way up, we had spectacular views of the Relic Pagoda and the city beyond.

My student also bought a ticket for the fast way down, and as soon as we reached the top, he took the metal chute or "sliding way" back to the bottom and went off to a meeting with government officials.

Once again on my own, as I have been for most of the pilgrimage, I walked past a very small (one room) Guanyu Temple, and soon reached the gateway to the Baozhu Cave compound.

A sign at the gate informed me that the cave was "built" (perhaps the temple there was built?) in 1780, which is actually after the cave had its most famous occupant.

The Monk Haixiu practiced meditation here for 40 years during the long reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722). Haixiu sat inside the cave, named for the white crystal-like stones that encrust the interior and do indeed look like pearls.

The cave must have had quite a view back in Haixiu's day. Now it's blocked by the Guanyin Hall built in front of the cave. A statue of Haixiu still inhabits the cave, and another hall sits on the hillside above it.

After taking it all in, I headed down the path toward my next destination.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily February 25, 2013.)

GPS Info (Click to view maps):



GALLERY

The single courtyard inside tiny Sanshan Nunnery
Visitors riding back down the hill from Baozhu Cave, as seen from the cable car
Trolleys wait to take more visitors down the chute from Baozhu Cave
Guanyin Temple in front of Baozhu Cave
Statue of Monk Haixiu in the cave where he meditated for 40 years (postcard below)
BONUS IMAGE: The image of Haixiu above rendered as a vintage postcard.

Master Haixiu (海岫) practiced meditation (禅) for 40 years in the very small Baozhu (Precious
Pearl) Cave (宝珠洞), one of the "Eight Great Sites" (八大处=Badachu) in Beijing (北京).

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