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Thursday, June 21, 2012

No. 91: Tiantai Temple, Jiuhuashan, Anhui

These small Buddhas (佛) are waiting to be placed in a reconstructed 10,000
Buddha Hall (万佛殿) at Tiantai Temple (天台寺) on Jiuhuashan, Anhui (安徽, 九华山).
Tourism is replete with superlatives. Sites are touted as the oldest, newest, biggest, smallest, and so on, all to attract tourist dollars.

Tiantai Peak, I learned, is not the highest on Jiuhua Shan. However, Tiantai Temple, located on the peak, is the highest temple on Jiuhua Shan. It is also the primary focus of pilgrims to this Buddhist wonderland described as being like "a thousand pearls scattered in fog."

It was a steep climb from Gu Baijing Tai to the top--so steep, in fact, that many travelers hired men to carry them up from the cable car station. But getting there is half the devotion, so up I struggled on my own two feet.

Arriving at the top, I discovered that the main "10,000 Buddhas" hall was undergoing a new paint job. But the location alone was much of the attraction. Though the building is only a few decades old, the site is ancient, for here is where the Korean named Jin Qiaojue built his hut when he came up the mountain to practice in 719.

There is a cave at the base of the complex, now partially bricked in. Inside is a statue of Kshitigarbha (Dizang), patron bodhisattva of the mountain. There are also a few run-down auxiliary halls, and a good-sized space filled with quirky little rooms just under the main hall. And all around are distant views and seclusion--a stunning place to practice.

On the more relaxing trip down, I stopped to appreciate the sight of the "Roc (a mythical bird) listening to a sutra" before beginning the four- or five-kilometer knee-jarring descent to the bottom of the peak.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily April 7, 2014.)

GPS Info:
  • 30.46441, 117.82540


(This may look blank, but it works--I promise!)


Bearers help a traveler up the stairs toward Tiantai Peak
The final flight of stairs approaching the temple
The 10,000 Buddhas Hall receives a facelift
A painter puts finishing touches on a new pillar
A cave at the base of the complex
A view of Tiantai Temple, with Gu Baijing Tai below

There are 14 pictures related to this temple (some of them identical to these, but with different captions) in a FaceBook album starting here (available to all, even without a FaceBook account).

Click here to visit the next article in chronological order || Click here to view the trip details

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