China has designated four sacred mountains to the practice of Buddhism. Each sacred mountain represents one geographical location, Wu Tai to the north, Emei Shan to the west, Jinhua Shan to the south, and Putuo Shan to the East. Chinese people make long journeys to visit these sacred places and pay homages to the Bodhisattva’s that inhabit these mountains. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened being that will not enter nirvana until all other beings achieve the spiritual goal, too. During the Cultural Revolution, many of the temples at these mountains were destroyed, but they have since been refurbished so that tourists the world over can visit them.
WU TAI SHAN
Wu Tai Shan translates into “five plateau mountain” and is located in the Xinzhou region of the Shanxi province in China; it is located between the two largest cities in Shanxi, Daitong and Taiyuan. Fifty three monasteries can be found on Wu Tai Shan and it has five peaks facing north, south, east, west, and in the middle. Bodhisattva Manjusri is thought by many Chinese to live there. He is the embodiment of wisdom and his name translates to “he who is noble and gentle.”
Emei Shan is located in Leshan City in the Sichuan province and its name literally translates to “delicate eyebrow mountain” because of its resemblance to an eyebrow of a Chinese girl. It is home to Bodhisattva Puxian who is associated with meditation. The mountain is home to over 30 Buddhist temples, one of which was the first Buddhist temples in China. Monkeys can be seen begging for food throughout the trek to the peak. Hiking up the mountain takes 10 hours one way, so two days will be needed to complete the journey on foot.
PU TUO SHAN
Pu Tuo Shan is located on Zhoushan Island in Zhejiang province, which is adjacent to Shanghai and made up of an archipelago of 1400 islands. Taking a speedboat from Shanghai you can arrive at the mountain in three hours. Its name translates to beautiful white flower in Sanskrit and it is also known as Baihua Mountain. The goddess Guanyin, who is known for her mercy and compassion, is said to have visited Pu Tuo Shan and a 33 meter high statue of her is situated on the mountain. Nuns and monks populate the many monasteries on Pu Tuo Shan, as its solitude provides them with the needed environment to meditate, and recite Buddhist scripture. Huiji, Fayu and Puji temples are the three largest places of worship on the island.
JIU HUA SHAN
Jiu Hua Shan or “nine glorious mountains” is located in the Anhui province in China. The mountain is dedicated to the god Ksitigarbha, known as the god of hell beings. Buddhism was introduced to this mountain in 400 AD by a Korean monk. The mountain has over 50 monasteries with Gualu, Huacheng, Baisuigong, Zhiyuan, and Zhuhai being the most notable. Mount Tiantai is the most famous mountain peaks of the Jiu Hua Shan mountain range among the total of 99 mountain peaks that make up mountain range.