Jiu Hua Shan
Overview of Mount Jiuhua
Bordering the Yangtze River in the north, and overlooking the Yellow Mountain in the south, Mount Jiuhua (or Jiu Hua Shan) covers an area of 100 square kilometers southwest of Qingyang County, Anhui Province. This is not far from the picturesque Mt. Huangshan.
Mount Jiuhua boasts 99 peaks and 18 scenic spots in its area. With its incredible landscape and pleasant climate, it is considered to be one of the best summer destinations in China. In addition to its popularity as a tourist destination, it is a holy site where thousands of Buddhists assemble. It has been established as one of the four sacred Buddhist shrines.
Ksitigarbha, or Dizangwang Pusa, resides as the patron Bodhisattva on Mount Jiuhua (or Jiu Hua Shan).
Brief History of Mount Jiuhua
According to historical records, Buddhism was first introduced to this mountain in the year 401. In 719, a Korean monk named Jin Qiaojue arrived and practiced Buddhism here for 75 years. Upon his Nirvana in 794, Jin Qiaojue was respected as the Earth Buddha by the locals, hence it has become the place where religious rituals were held to worship the God of Earth.
It has always been a place that attracted educated men throughout the ages. The story goes that Libai (701-762), the famous poet from the Tang Dynasty, once came to visit Jiuhua Shan. The verse slipped out when he was intoxicated at the peak of the mountain, ‘From the azure skies above descends a jade-like flow, and nine fascinating lotuses rise out of the hills below’. Later, poet Liu Yuxi (772-784) in Tang Dynasty, litterateur Wang Anshi (1021-1086) in North Song Dynasty and many other scholars, politicians and monks also made their journey to Jiuhua Shan, and thus it got its fame.
Visitors to the temples on the mountain are always impressed with the architecture and grand structure. Now there are 90 temples on Jiuhua Shan, most of them were restored during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Among the most well known are the Incarnation Hall, Huacheng Temple, Zhiyuan Temple, Longevity Hall, Zhantanlin Temple, Ganlu Temple and Tiantai Zhending Temple.
Huacheng Temple is the oldest and holiest temple on Jiuhuashan. It is located in the center of Jiuhua Street. Though it first appears simple and solemn, the structure and decoration of the buildings are truly artistic. The engravings on lintels, brackets and roofs reinforce the brightness and liveliness of the building. The picture, ‘Nine Dragons Playing with Pearls’ on a panel in the Main Shrine Hall is a consummate piece of ancient Chinese art.
Precious sutras and other cultural relics in the temples are displayed in the Historical Relic Museum. The most valuable are the Buddhist canonical literature left from the Tang Dynasty, the Tripitaka left from the Ming Dynasty, and Emperor Kang Xi and Emperor Qian Long’s handwritings left from the Qing Dynasty.
It is also worth mentioning the Corporeal Body Hall which houses the skeleton of Monk Wu Xia. The skeleton has been well preserved for more than 350 years. Wu Xia once wrote sutras with a mixture of gold powder and his own blood in a cave of the mountain during Ming Dynasty. After hard practice on Buddhist sutras a little over a hundred years, Wu Xia passed away at the age of 126 – his body was found in the cave three years after his death. Monks on Jiuhua Shan believed Wu Xia was the reincarnation of high-ranking Rinpoche (name not specified). Buddhist believers have also been keen to visit Jiuhua Shan to pay homage to Wu Xia.
Additionally, the Temple Fair (also named Hid Puja), is held every year since 1983. With a history of over 1,000 years, it has been regarded as a national cultural heritage. The 30th Temple Fair, from September 1st to 30th in 2012, attracts a large number of tourists and pilgrims both local and international. During the temple fair period, the newly built Dayuan Cultural Garden is scheduled to be put into trial operation. Its remarkable buildings, the 99-meter tall bronze Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Statue, and 99-meter diameter Buddha’s Light Pool, are other sightseeing and Buddha-worship sites on Jiuhua Shan.
Temples at Mount Jiuhua
It stands on top of Tiantai Peak which is 1306 meters above sea level. It is constructed in wood and stone. The whole temple is made up of a 3-part folk house architectural structure. It sits across a dent formed by two hills; both sides are supported by huge rocks. The dent is leveled with a stone base 8 meters in height, thus, an even surface is achieved. The buildings are sheltered by cliffs. The gate in the south has an arched stone cave that is 3.4 meters in diameter and 4.2 meters in depth. Behind the palace there are side doors leading to Kwan-yin Hall, a guesthouse and Yunshui Hall. There are many scenic spots around. The temple is the highest one in Jiuhua Shan, and it occupies 1,540 square meters.
This is a key temple in China, first named Huiqin nunnery. It is located in the west of Tiantai Mountain, to the east of Mingyuan Park. First constructed at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, expanded at the end of Abbot Jingming, the temple gradually became a monastery, and was renamed Huiju Temple. In 1982, it was rebuilt. In 1984, all of the figures were painted and gilded. At the back of the temple stands a high hill, and faces a bamboo forest. The surface area is 541 square meters where the figures of 18 arhats and Buddhas have been sculptured to be life-sized.
Shangchan Hall is located below the The Incarnation Hall. It was once called Jingde Hall, however during Kangxi’s time as Emperor, Prime Minister Yulin’s disciple Zongyan expanded the hall, renaming it Shangchan Hall. The gate is not very big, but the hall is pleasantly big. This temple enjoys the most pilgrimage, presents the best scenery and the most beautiful halls.
Ganlu Temple (Sweet Dew Temple)
It is located at the north of the mountain, and originally named “Ganlu An” (The Nunnery of Nectar), and Ganlu Buddhist Temple. In the year of 1667, the sixth year of the Kang Xi Period in Qing Dynasty, the Prime Minister Yulin paid his homage on Mount Jiuhua and passed here. He said in his praise: ‘What a beautiful place it is with mountains and rivers! Generations of dignitaries will be born here if a temple is built up.’
Monk Dong An, who lived in Fuhu Cave (“Taming the Tiger”) heard this and prepared to build a temple with the help from his friends in Laotian village, Qing Yang. On the eve of the beginning day of this project, pine needles all over the mountain were hung with nectars, which people called a wonder, and henceforward the temple was named as Gan Lu Si (nectar). After giving teachings twice at the temple, Dong An resumed his life in Fuhu Cave.
During the Qian Long Period of the Qing Dynasty, Abbot Youtan opened the altar again and gave teachings where the temple then became one with Buddhism. With a construction space of 3,500 sq ft, the temple has now been left with the cultural relics such as the Precious Hall of The Great Hero, the Side Hall, the Small House, the Bell and Drum, the Steel Inscription, etc. It is now one of the key national temples.
In 1990, Jiuhua Buddhist College was established. They included courses such as Buddhist theology, sutra, history of Buddhism, medicine, philosophy, calligraphy, foreign languages and computer. The college has graduated and nurtured a lot of well-learned monks.
This is a key national temple in China first constructed during Kangxi Period, Qing Dynasty. It was one of the 72 buildings. When it was under construction, monks who were cutting old trees behind the temple noticed the good quality of the wood – thus the forest was named Sandal Woods. The building is made up of 4 halls and 1 palace. Later on, Abbot Huisheng vowed to establish three more palaces: Daxiong, Dabei and Dayuan. In 1994, Dabei Palace was finished, where a four-faced 1000-armed Guanyin has been enshrined. In 1999, Dayuan Palace was finished, where the golden figure of Dizang Bodhisattva has been enshrined. Daxiong Palace is now under construction, and when completed the figures of three Huayan sages will be enshrined.
CNY 190 (Mar.1 – Nov.30); CNY 140 (Dec.1- Feb.28/29)
Bai Sui Gong Cable Way: CNY 55 per person; CNY 100 per person for round way trip
Tiantai Cable Way: CNY 75 per person, CNY 140 per person for round way trip
08:00 – 17:30
Recommended Time for a Visit:
One or two nights
How to Get There:
- Nanjing Zhongyangmen Bus Station has four buses a day to Jiuhuashan at 7:40, 14:00, 14:50, 16:20, taking 4-4.5 hours.
- Hefei Tourism Bus Station (east of Hefei Railway Station) has regular buses to this mountain hourly from 10:00-15:00. The journey takes about 3 hours. Hefei New South Bus Station also has regular buses to here hourly from 6:40-16:30.
- Huangshan Scenic Area (Tangkou) has only two buses to here at 6:30 and 13:30. Tunxi Bus Station also has few buses. The journey is about 2-3 hours.
Take train to Chizhou first. After get out of Chizhou Railway Station, you will see Chizhou Bus Station. There are buses to here every a few minutes and reach there about one hour later.
It expects to have its own airport in the end of 2012. Now, visitors can fly to Hefei, Nanjing, Wuhu, Huangshan airport first and then take bus to here.
Photos of Mount Jihua
Source: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/anhui/huangshan/jiuhua.htm, http://www.jiuhuashan.com.cn/english/
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