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Mount Wutai

Mountain Wutai

Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai (literally "Five Plateau Mountain"), also known as Wutai Mountain or Qingliang Shan, located in Shanxi, China, is one of the Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism. The mountain is home to many of China's most important monasteries and temples. Mount Wutai's cultural heritage consist of 53 sacred monasteries, and they were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Each of the four mountains are viewed as the abode or place of practice of one of the four great bodhisattvas. Wutai is the home of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri or Wenshu in Chinese. Mount Wutai also has an enduring relationship with Tibetan Buddhism.

It takes its name from its unusual topography, consisting of five rounded peaks (North, South, East, West, Central), of which the North peak, called Beitai Ding or Yedou Feng, is the highest, and indeed the highest point in northern China.

Mountain Wutai

Mount Wutai

Wutai was the first of the four mountains to be identified and is often referred to as "first among the four great mountains." It was identified on the basis of a passage in the Avatamsaka Sutra, which describes the abodes of many bodhisattvas. In this chapter, Manjusri is said to reside on a "clear cold mountain" in the northeast. This served as charter for the mountains identity and its alternate name "Clear Cool Mountain".

The bodhisattva is believed to frequently manifest himself on the mountain, taking the form of ordinary pilgrims, monks, or most often unusual five-colored clouds.

Mount Wutai is home to some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618ĘC907). This includes the main hall of Nanchan Monastery and the East Hall of Fuguang Monastery, built in 782 and 857, respectively. They were discovered in 1937 and 1938 by a team of architectural historians including the prominent early 20th century historian Liang Sicheng. The architectural designs of these buildings have since been studied by leading sinologists and experts in traditional Chinese architecture, such as Nancy Steinhardt. Steinhardt classified these buildings according to the hall types featured in the Yingzao Fashi Chinese building manual written in the 12th century.

Mountain Wutai

Temple on Mount Wutai

In 2008, there were complaints from local residents that in preparation for Mount Wutai's bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they were forced from their homes and relocated away from their livelihoods.

Major Temples on Mount Wutai

Nanshan Temple is a large temple in Mount Wutai, first built in Yuan Dynasty. The whole temple comprises seven terraces, divided into three parts. The lower three terraces are named Jile Temple; the middle terrace is called Shande Hall; the upper three terraces are named Youguo Temple. Other major temples includes Xiantong Temple, Tayuan Temple and Pusading Temple.

Other important temples inside Mount Wutai includes: Shouning Temple, Bishan Temple, Puhua Temple, Dailuo Ding, Qixian Temple, Shifang Tang, Shuxiang Temple, Guangzong Temple, Yuanzhao Temple, Guanyin Dong, Longquan Temple, Luomuhou Temple, Jinge Temple, Zhenhai Temple, Wanfo Ge, Guanhai Temple, Zhulin Temple, Jifu Temple, Gufo Temple, etc.

Outer Mount Wutai temples includes: Yanqing Temple, Nanchan Temple, Mimi Temple, Foguang Temple, Yanshan Temple, Zunsheng Temple, Guangji Temple, etc.

Mountain Wutai

Temple on Mount Wutai

How to get there

By Plane:Taiyuan is the nearest airport, which operates flights to/from Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

By train:Some trains go to the nearby town of Wutai Shan however the train stations that service this route are small and obtaining tickets may be difficult especially if the traveller does not have a working grasp of conversational Chinese. Major train stations in the vicinity are Taiyuan and Datong; buses and taxis run from either city. Access to Wutai Shan is easiest from Xinzhou, the closest city of intermediate size.

By bus:Wutai Shan Train Station is about 50 km away. Travelling from here to Taihuai Village by bus will need an hour or so. Taking a bus from Taiyuan to Taihuai Village will cost around 70 Yuan and takes 5 hours. There are other direct bus services to Taihuai Village from other cities. Compulsory entry ticket to Taihuai Village cost 168 Yuan and 50 Yuan for unlimited bus shuttle services within the village.