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The Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism

25/06/201316:06(Xem: 3609)
The Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism

GIÁO HỘI PHẬT GIÁO VIỆT NAM THỐNG NHẤT HẢI NGOẠI TẠI ÚC ĐẠI LỢI-TÂN TÂY LAN
The Unified Vietnamese Australian Buddhist Congress of Australia – New Zealand
Quang Duc Buddhist Welfare Association of Victoria
TU VIỆN QUẢNG ĐỨC

105 Lynch Road, Fawkner, Victoria 3060, Australia. Tel: 03.9357 3544. Fax:03. 9357 3600.
Email:quangduc@tpg.com.au; Website:
www.quangduc.com

_______________________________________________________________

The Four Sacred Mountains
in Chinese Buddhism

Mt Putuoshan in Zhejiang Province

Mt Jiuhuashan in Anhui Province

Mt Wutaishan inShanxi Province

Mt Emeishan in Sichuan Province

all of which are renowned as the four sacred Buddhist Mountains.

Each of the four mountains are viewed as the abode or place of practice (dàocháng) of one of the four great bodhisattvas:

1.Avalokitesvara - Guan Shr Yin Great Compassion Bodhisattva

2.Ksitigarbha - Earth Treasury King Great Vow Bodhisattva

3.Manjusri - Universal Great Wisdom Bodhisattva

4.Samantabhadra - Universal Worthy Great Conduct Bodhisattva

Mt Putuoshan,place of practice of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Quan The Am Bo Tat).

Mt. Putuoshan lies to the east of Zhoushan City. Zhoushan City is situated on Zhoushan Island that in turn gives its name to a group of some four hundred small islands off the east coast of China in Zhejiang Province. These islands are in fact the peaks of submerged mountains and so rise steeply from the sea. Mt. Putuoshan dominates the small rhomboidal land mass with its total area of about 12.5 square kilometres (4.8 square miles). The mountain is of one of four in the country that are held sacred by Buddhists and it was here that over the centuries a once large Buddhist community was to evolve.

The island's scenic beauty meant it was the perfect setting for temples and other religious buildings. In due course, it became known as the "Heaven of the Sea and Kingdom of the Buddhists". In its heyday, the island had eighty-two temples and nunneries together with some one hundred and twenty-eight shelters that between them housed 4,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. Even today visitors to the island will encounter monks in their traditional robes as they walk along the many paths that criss-cross the picturesque landscape.

The major sites to visit on the island are:

Puji Temple (Pho Te Tui): This temple dates from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and covers 11,000 square meters (2.7 acres).

Fayu Temple (Phap Vu Thien Tu):Construction commenced during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the buildings hug the mountainside in the seclusion of lofty and ancient trees. (where the monk An Quang was in retreat for several years

Huiji Temple (Phat Danh Tu):This is known also as the Buddhist Hilltop Temple (Fodingshan) on account of its elevated position.

Tu Truc forest: The centre of the island is covered with rich green forests that form a tranquil setting appropriate to a place of quiet religious contemplation. It is here that magnificent and protected hornbeams grow as well as the famous one-thousand-year-old camphor tree, a particularly fine tree species with a circumference measuring 6 meters (20 feet).

Pham Am Cavewhere Bodhisattva Quan The Am often manisfested herself to rescue fishermen.

Quan The Am statue, 18m (33m?) in height, covered in gold which can be seen from Ningbo.

The sandy shores of the island are also special features and particularly attractive to tourists are the bays known as "The Thousand-Step Sands" with its 1.5 kilometer (0.9 mile) beach and the smaller "Hundred-Step Sands". These fine beaches are very popular with bathers and also have entertainment facilities.

It is small wonder that this island is famed for having such a delightful combination of mountain scenery and seascapes.

Jiuhuashan, the abode of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha (Dia Tang Vưong Bo Tat).

Dia Tang Temple, Nhuc Than Temple(relics)
Bach Sun Palace (Bach Tue Cung).
Tiantai (Thien Dai)peak(cable car).
Hoang Tung,
Co Bai Kinh Dai

Bodhisattva Dia Tang’sfootprint.
Huacheng Temple (Hoa Thanh Tu).

Mt. Jiuhua

This small mountain, in a south-central area of Anhui province, is one of the better of China's more well-known natural wonders. Bordered on the Yangtze River in the north and overlooked the Mt. Huangshan in the south, Mt. Jiuhua covers an area of 100 square kilometers southwest of Qingyang County, Anhui Province , not far from the picturesque Mt.Huangshan. Mt. Jiuhua boasts 99 peaks and 18 scenic spots in its area and easily navigable area of many peaks and winding paths. With its marvelous landscape and and pleasant climate, Mt. Jiuhua is considered one of the best summer resorts in China. In addition to its popularity as a tourist destination, it is a holy siteof quiet beauty and pious Buddhist culture that in China is hard to beat.

According to historical records, Buddhism was first introduced to Mt. Jiuhua in the year 401.

Originally this now totally Buddhist dominated area was populated by a few Taoists, who built various temples and houses on the sights of their modern day counterparts. This was all to change with the arrival of a wandering Korean Buddhist called Kim Kiao Kak (Jin Qiaojue), who arrived on the mountain in 720 AD and practiced Buddhism here for 75 years. Kim was alleged to be the reincarnation of the Boddhisattva Dizang, and came here preaching the Buddhist message and founding various temples, mostly in honour of the guardian of the earth, Ksitigarbha.


After his death in 794 AD, Jin Qiaojue was respected as the Earth Buddha by the locals, hence Mt. Jiuhua has become the place where religious rituals were held to worship the God of Earth.

The mountain grew in prominence, so that by the mid to late Tang (618-907 AD) there were hundreds of monasteries and thousands of monks in residence. It was during these golden days that the poet Li Bai, sitting on the mountain's most famous peak, the Heavenly Terrace, penned the areas name. He called it Nine Flower Mountain (Jiuhuashan), after the prominent peaks that he could see around him, jutting through the clouds like newly sprouting buds.

Mt. Jiuhua has always been a place that attracts men of letters throughout the ages. The story goes that Libai(701-762), the famous poet of Tang Dynasty, once came to visit the mountain. The verse slipped out when he was intoxicated with the scene of lotus blooms-like peaks of Mt. Jiuhua, '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 the journey to the mountain, and thus Mt. Jiuhua got its fame. Just as a Chinese saying goes 'A mountain is famous not for its height but for its holiness'.

Nowadays things are a little smaller around this bit of Anhui. The total number of temples & monasteries has dropped to around 60, lost either through neglect, or the ravages of Red Guard cleansing during the Cultural Revolution (1967-77). The mountain is also becoming a more popular destination on the tourist route, meaning increasing numbers of stalls, renovations, people, modern buildings, cable cars, and rubbish, especially during the peak seasons around festival time.

For the moment, however, the area remains a great area to spend a few days. Unlike many of the Buddhist destinations in China, there still seems to be a good sense of religious dedication here. There are still around 6,800 Buddhist sculptures, a good selection of calligraphic works, mainly from the Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1644-1911 AD) Dynasties, and a variety of original Buddhist texts including Wu Xia's Huayang Sutras, some imperial ordered Qing Dynasty sutras and some ancient Sanskrit sutras. There are also two nicely mummified corpses, one of Wu Xia and the other of Kim Kiao Kak, both covered in a layer of gold leaf.

Mt. Jiuhua has always been a place that attracts men of letters throughout the ages. The story goes that Libai(701-762), the famous poet of Tang Dynasty, once came to visit the mountain. The verse slipped out when he was intoxicated with the scene of lotus blooms-like peaks of Mt. Jiuhua, '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 the journey to the mountain, and thus Mt. Jiuhua got its fame. Just as a Chinese saying goes 'A mountain is famous not for its height but for its holiness'.

Mt Jiuhua Temples

Visitors to the temples on Mt. Jiuhua are always impressed with the exquisite architecture and grand structure. Now there are no more than 90 temples in existence in Mt. Jiuhua, most of them restored in 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 Templeis the oldest and holiest temple on the mountain. It is located in the center of Jiuhua Street. Though it first appears simple and solemn, the structure and decoration of the building 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 Relics Museum of the Jiuhua Mountain. 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 houses the skeleton of Monk Wu Xia that 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 Mt. Jiuhua during Ming Dynasty. After hard practice of sutras for a hundred year in Mt. Jiuhua, Wu Xia passed away at the age of 126-- his body found in the cave three years after his death. Monks on the mountain believed Wu Xia was the reincarnation of Rinpoche. From then on, Buddhist believers have been keen to visit the mountain to pay homage to the monk.

Wutaishan, home of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri

Hien Thong Tu, Bo Tat Dinh(shrine for Bodhisattva Manjusri -Bo Tat Van Thu),
Thap Vien Tu
.
Dai Lo Dinh(5 statues of Bodhisattva Van Thu),
Van Thu Temple
.
Hien Thong or Hanging Temple).

Mt. Wutaishan

image001

The most holy land of Chinese Buddhism, Mt. Wutaishan, also known as Qingliang Shan, lies in Wutai County in Xinzhou Region, Shanxi Province. It is rated on both the list of the first group of national scenic spots designated by the State Council, and the list of the Top 10 scenic spots in Shanxi Province.

Mt. Wutaishan covers an area of 2,837 square kilometers (1,095.4 square miles), and its five main peaks, positioned east, south, west, north, and in the middle, embrace one another with broad and plain terraces rather than forests on their tops. That is why it bears the name "Wutaishan" (Mountain of Five Terraces). With the average altitude over 1,000 meters (over 3,281 feet), its apex, the summit of the northern peak which is famed as being the "Roof of Northern China", reaches 3061.1 meters (10,043 feet). Besides the religious aspect, the beauty of rising and falling ridges of mountains, exotic rocks, crisscrossed gullies, crystalline waters and towering green forests also gives Mt. Wutaishan its reputation as a colorful and notable tourist resort.

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.

Mt Wutaishan 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 also the highest point in northern China.

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 (Ch: Húayán jīng), 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" (Ch: Qīngliáng Shān). 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 (618–907). 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 FashiChinese building manual written in the 12th century.

Mt. Wutaishan Scenery

The beautiful scenery of Mt. Wutaishan is a masterpiece of exquisite acts of nature, predominantly visible over the five main peaks: Wanghai Peak in the east, Guayue Peak in the west, Jinxiu Peak in the south, Yedou Peak in the north, and the central Cuiyan Peak.

Wanghai Peak(Peak Overlooking the Sea) in the east

1 kilometer (0.6 mile) east of Taihuai Town in Wutai County, there is Wanghai Peak. Visitors standing on the top of the peak, east of Mt. Wutaishan, can appreciate the height of 2,795 meters (9,169.9 feet). It is wonderful to see the sunrise in the morning from this location. Out of a sea of floating clouds and writhing mist, the sun rises with thousands of golden rays. It fills visitors with amazement, as they can believe it is the sun rising above the real sea.

Guayue Peak(Hanging Moon Peak) in the west

Guayue Peak reaches an altitude of 2,773 meters (9,097.8 feet) and is 13 kilometers (8.1 miles) west of Taihuai Town. This peak provides unique imagery in the evening when visitors can see the elegant and serene sight of the graceful but hazy moon hanging above dense pine trees.

Jinxiu Peak(Splendor Peak) in the south

Jinxiu Peak is 2,485 meters high (8,152.9 feet), and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of Taihuai Town. This peak's beauty is in the colorful flowers that grow all over it, and emit scents and perfumes from early May until late August. They decorate the peak by making it look as if it is wearing a floral silk coat.

Yedou Peak(Peak of Flourishing Leaves) in the north

This peak, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) north of Taihuai Town, is the highest point of Mt. Wutaishan, as well being the highest in Northern China, at 3,058 meters (10,032.8 feet). On the terrace of the peak, there is a natural pool that is over 300 square meters (358.8 square yards) From the terrace looking towards the north, Mt. Hengshan looms blanketed in endless greenery.

Cuiyan Peak(Peak of Green Rocks) in the middle

According to its name, one can guess the scenery of this peak. The rocks are green not because of their own color, but because of the moss on their surface. The huge rocks resemble moving dragons when seen in sunlight, from which the name "dragon-writhing rocks" has been derived.

Buddhist Temples in Mt. Wutaishan

It is said that this mountain, one of the four holy Buddhist Mountains, is the dwelling place of Manjusri Bodhisattva. 360 temples were built here dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) but now only 47 of them exist. Over the years, incalculable numbers of pilgrims and visitors have come here. Among these magnificent temples, five are the most famous: Xiantong Temple, TayuanTemple, Manjusri Temple (Summit Bodhisattva), Shuxiang Temple, and Luohou Temple.

Xiantong Temple

Xiantong Temple has the longest history and is the most prestigious. Occupying an area of 80,000 square meters (95,682 square yards), it was built initially in 68, during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), with the additions built by succeeding dynasties. Now it plays the most important role among the temples, therefore, the Buddhist Association of Mt. Wutaishan is situated there. The court-styled construction of it includes seven palaces, in one of which Wenshu (Manjusri) Bodhisattva's statue was engraved and worshiped. The copper bell in front of the gate is the biggest bell on the mountain, with a weight of 9,999.5 jin (22,045.9 pounds). Its toll can be heard around the entire mountain.

Tayuan Temple

The 75.3-meter-high (247-feet-high) Tayuan Temple is the symbol of Mt. Wutaishan, so it becomes a "must-see". Principally it possesses the white Tibetan-style dagoba also called Dabai Pagoda (Big White Pagoda). Since it stands in front of the other temples in Taihuai, it is even more eye-catching. Accompanying the graceful temple, there is also Wenshufa Pagoda where it is said that Manjusri Bodhisattva's hair is preserved, and the Dacangjing Pavilion (Collecting-Lections Pavilion) where volumes of lections were collected.

Manjusri Temple

Legend has it that Wenshu Bodhisattva dwelt in the temple, so it is also called "ZhenrongYuan" (real appearance) or "Bodhisattva Summit". It was built originally in Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). In the time of Emperor Yongle of Ming Dynasty (1368 -1644), Lamaists began to be stationed in Mt. Wutaishan, and the great Lama resided there. From then on, it became the principal temple of Lamaism. Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) both went there and left ever-lasting epigraphs.

Shuxiang Temple

Shuxiang Temple is the southwest neighbor of Tayuan Temple. Built in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it covers 6,400 square meters (7,654.6 square yards), and encompasses over 50 palaces and halls. Among them Manjusri Pavilion is the largest one in the center of the Taihuai County, with Manjusri Bodhisattva's statue in it. A clear spring flows out of the temple named "Banruo" or "Prajna", meaning "adding wisdom", whose water was used in the courts.

Luohou Temple

To the east of the Xiantong Temple, Luohou Temple was set up as a Lamaist temple in the Tang Dynasty. One of its wonders is a wooden lotus-shaped flower. Machinery turns it and the wooden petals open and close. Inside are carved Buddhist figures on a square platform.

For tourists who want to visit all Manjusri Bodhisattva's statues in the five temples but cannot for time constraints or other reasons, Dailuo Peak (Dark Green Snail Peak) is a wonderful place to visit, because Wufang Manjusri Palace (Palace of Manjusri Bodhisattvas from five directions) houses statues resembling the five Manjusri Bodhisattvas of each terrace. It is located to the east of the temple group in the center of Taihuai Town. 1,080 steps lead to the top of the snail-shaped peak and a cable car is also available for convenience.

Besides these temples, there are other exquisitely constructed ones, such as Jinge Temple (golden temple), Nanchan Temple, Dailuoding, Shifangtang, Wangfo Temple, and so on.

Other Resources on Mt. Wutaishan

Mt. Wutaishan is resplendent in many resources owing to its natural conditions and important role in Buddhism.

Over 600 species of plants can be found on the Mountain, of which more than 150 species of grass can be used as rare herbs. Special local produce, Taimo, (mushrooms grown on the tops of peaks of Mt. Wutaishan) is of quite high nutritional value and with a delicate taste.

Since many temples are interspersed in the mountain, numerous art works were cared for and have been preserved as relics-sculptures, murals, calligraphy, as well as architecture. Pagodas built in the style of those in ancient India added new types to traditional ones. Nanchan Temple and Foguang Temple, built in the Tang Dynasty, are representatives of the ancient wooden style of construction, and have the longest history amongst the temples in the mountain.

MtEmeishan, place of practice ofSamantabhadra Bodhisattva (Pho Hien Bo Tat)

Mt. Emei is located in Leshan City, Sichuan Province. It is towering, beautiful, old and mysterious. Mt. Emei is like a huge green screen standing in the southwest of the Chengdu Plain. Looking its winding and beautiful figure, you will find that it resembles very much an eyebrow of a girl. It is the highest one among all the famous sight-seeing mountains in China.

In Mt. Emei there are four scenic regions: Baoguo Temple, Wannian Temple, Qingyin Pavilion and Golden Summit. Its main peak, the Golden Summit, is 3079.3 meters (10,103 feet) above the sea level, seemingly reaching the sky. Standing on the top of it, you can enjoy the snowy mountains in the west and the vast plain in the east. In addition in Golden Summit there are four spectacles: clouds sea, sunrise, Buddha rays and saint lamps. In 1996 Mt. Emei was enlisted in the world natural and cultural heritage by the UNESCO.


Mt. Emei is a wondrous world. The trees are verdant almost all the year round; the waterfalls are splendid; the whole scenery is beautiful and quiet. The landscape varies according to the seasons, the height of mountain and the climate. The poet Tan Zhongyue living in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) once concluded the beautiful landscape in Emei Mountain into ten scenic sights. Today more and more new scenery has been discovered and given beautiful names such as Listen to the Spring beside the Tiger Brook, Plank Road above Longjiang River and Flying Waterfall Hanging over Dragon Gate. Go there and use your imagination, maybe you will discover a new sight by yourself.

Mt. Emei has a long history. According to the archaeological material, people in remote ancient times have lived in this place. As early as 5,000 years ago, the Emperor Xuanyuan paid two visits to the mountain to learn Tao thoughts. 1,900 years ago, a practitioner built the first monastery in the mountain, thus marked the Emei the birthplace of Buddhism in Yangtze Valley. Today the Buddhist culture has become the main body of Emei Culture. The Buddhist architecture, music, grottos and paintings in the mountain all reflect rich religious flavor and culture.


Leshan Giant Buddha Statue(Lac Son Dai Phat) is situated at the confluence of the Min and Dadu River and was originally built to protect and watch over passing ships in the night. Haitong a Chinese monk began work on the project in 713 and it was not completed until 90 years later. Despite this monk's dedication (he gauged out his own eyes to secure funding) he did not live to see the statue completed. Haitong's work was continued by the monks Zangchou and Weigao, who implemented the successful secret drainage system that protects the statue from erosion, and clothed and wigged the Buddha too! The Chinese have a saying that "the mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain".

At 71 meters tall (and that is seated) ears 6.72 meters long, nose 5.33 meters, and eyes 3.3 meters wide, this great sculpture is certainly the biggest of its kind in the world.

There are numerous perspectives of the Buddha; the most impressive is the view from the ferry as you cross the river. Watch out however as this is a hugely popular photo shot and the masses of tourists who flock to get a shot tipple the ferry slightly! The other inspirational view of the great statue is from above. From the top of one of Buddha's ears, the sight of tourists making their way down the steep Staircase of Nine Turns down to the Buddha's feet is awe inspiring.

Baoguo Monastery (Bao Quoc Tu).

Located at the foot of Emei Mountain in Sichuan Province, Baoguo Monastery is the biggest monastery of the mountain and was first built in the Ming Dynasty. It was originally called “Huizong Hall”, which means Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are combined as one.

The grand Baoguo Monastery covers an area of nearly 40,000 sq. meters. There are four large halls in total. They are (from the front to the back): Maitreya Hall, the Grand Hall, Seven-Buddha Hall and Buddhist Sutra Storing Tower. The four halls are built near the mountain, with one layer higher than the other. The doors and windows of the monastery are carved with intricate patterns that are lifelike and magnificent. The towers and pavilions are evenly distributed, simple yet imposing. Precious Buddhist images and scripture are engraved in the bronze statue of Buddha Samantabhadra and bronze bell with lotus motifs in the monastery.

The characters of “Baoguo Monastery” on the horizontal board were inscribed by Emperor Kangxi himself. Memorial tablets in honor of the “three religions” are enshrined in the monastery. For Buddhism, the tablet is devoted to Samantabhadra, for Mt. Emei used to be the ritual site of Samantabhadra; for Daoism, the tablet is devoted to Guangchengzi, the man said to be the incarnation of Senior Lord Li. He once preached Daoism in Mt. Emei; for Confucianism, the tablet is devoted to Chu Kuang, a contemporary of Confucius. The king of Chu offered him an official position, but he declined by pretending to be mad and later lived in seclusion in Mt. Emei. The establishment of Huizong Hall reflected the section of history in which Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism were fused in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Today, as a main attraction on the way to the Mountain, Baoguo Monastery is a center of Buddhist activities of Mt. Emei and popular with pilgrims and tourists alike.

Mount Emei is where Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Pho Hien Bo Tat) practiced his meditation, for which his statue in the Wannian Temple (Van Nien Tu)on the mountain has become the most famous one among others. The statue of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is enshrined in Puxian Hall of the Wannian Temple, which was constructed by superior techniques with no single beam used. The statue was created out of the hand of Buddhist master Maozhen in the Baishui Temple in 980 A.D. with gold and copper granted by a Song emperor. Wearing a gold Buddhist crown with a Ruyi Rod in hand, the Bodhisattva sits on the lotus platform placed on an elephant back with the expression as if he is preaching. The elephant has a long nose and strong legs with eyes looking ahead as if it’s going to send the Bodhisattva for preaching down the mountain. The whole statue is out of master hand and appraised as a National-level Cultural Relics Preservation Unit by the State Department.

Other places of interest visited

Phong Hoa- land of the FutureBuddha Maitreya (Di Lac).

Suzhou- Han Son Temple.

Located right on the Grand Canal, Hanshan Temple is Suzhou’s most significant landmark. It was built from 502 to 519 and named after Han Shan, a monk who lived here during the Tang dynasty. Through the centuries, the temple had been destroyed and renovated several times. The last restoration was done during the late Qing dynasty and thus, the temple is a good representation of the dynasty’s architecture.

Zhangji, a famous Tang dynasty poet, wrote about this temple in his renowned poem “Anchorage by the Maple Bridge”. If you visit the temple, you can see the Maple bridge, described by Zhangji, with the poem inscribed in stone. Unfortunately, you will not be able to see the huge bell from the poem because it was seized by the Japanese, but there is a bell in its place. You can, for a small donation, strike the bell for good luck.

Suzhou famous silk factory

The No.1 Silk Factory was founded in 1926 as a state-owned factory. Visitors will experience the amazing process that the silkworm creates its cocoon out of a single silk thread that is continuous for approximately 3,600 feet. Then you will see how the Chinese people produce silk with the old style machine, and the process of producing handmade silk qu ilt.

Arriving at the factory visitors would be ushered into a small conference room where a representative gave a brief talk about the process before they went into the factory to observe the process. In the conference room there are all of the various life-cycle stages of the silkworm preserved so that you could easily inspect them.

Wuxi (Vo Tich)- Linh Son Dai Phatwith Buddha Amitabha’s (A Di Da)

The Grand Buddha at Ling Shan situated in the small Ling Shan area in the south of the Maji Mountain, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. The Grand Buddha and the historical famous one thousand year old "Xiangfu Temple" nearby are the well-known scenic resorts in today's Wuxi.

The Grand Buddha at Ling Shan is a bronze Sakyamuni standing Buddha outdoors . It is 88 meters high, made of tin and bronze, and built in the end of 1996.

The Grand Buddha lies in the Small Ling Shan named by the famous Great Monk Xuanzang in Tang Dynasty, this is how the Grand Buddha in Ling Shan got its name. The Grand Buddha was completed according to the record of the Buddhist scriptures Tathagata 32 images.

Standing solemnly at the site of famous Tang Dynasty Xiangfu Temple, the Grand Buddha is pleasing to the eyes and very kind, widely looking at all the living creatures. The left and right hands have hand print with "wish", wishing the world happy and welfare and the mark before the chest represents solemnity and virtue.

The whole Buddha is not only rounded and strong, but also solemn and auspicious, created very carefully and vivid, appears the image of Buddha's mercy.

When you stand before the Grand Buddha, you cannot help praising how perfect the Chinese Buddhist work it is!

Hangzhou(the old capital of the Ngo dynasty).

tomb of Lien Tri Dai Su, the 6thGrand Master of Tinh Dobranch.
Ho Tayand the Bamboo Park.

Linh An Tu, where The Most Venerable Te Dienlived and practiced.

Tea factory for Long Tinh tea.

Datong

Yungang Grottoes (Van Cuong Thach Dong)- 1000 carved Buddha statues,

The Yungang Grottoes belong to a string of early Buddhist cave temples that stretch across northern China. Buddhism spread east from India along ancient caravan routes leaving a lasting mark on China. Rock cave temples in China, serving as centers for Buddhist worship, date back as far as the second century with the main carving activities occuring during the fourth to ninth centuries. Other well known grotto sites include the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhunag in Gansu Province, the Longmen Caves at Luoyang in Henan Province, and the Kizil Grottoes in Xinjiang. Over 250 grotto and cliff statue sites exist nationwide throughout China being concentrated primarily along former trading routes known as the "Silk Road" and along the river basins of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers.

The Yungang Grottoes are carved into the side of a cliff in the Wuzhou hills overlooking a river valley by the village of Yungang. Yungang is located approximately 16km west of the industrial city of Datong near the Inner Mongolian border in northern Shanxi Province, China. Excavation of the Buddhist cave temples at Yungang began in 454 A.D. under the patronage of the emperor of the Northern Wei Dynasty, Wen-ch'eng. Over a period of approximately a half century, twenty major caverns and numerous smaller caves were carved out of the sandstone cliff (Mizuno, 1950; Knauer, 1983; Caswell, 1988).

The largest grottoes are similar in architecture. A passageway dug into the cliff face at ground level opens into a large man-made cavern excavated behind the cliff face. These rooms within the cliff are typically rectangular, between 10 to 15m long on each side and approximately 12.5m high. At the rear of some caverns, and at the center of others there is a huge pillar that stretches from the cave floor nearly to the ceiling. This central column typically is carved into a monumental statue of the Buddha, but there are examples of pillars that take the form of a pagoda. The walls and ceilings of these caves are covered by thousands of carved, and in some cases painted, sculptures that include objects of reverence to the Buddhist faithful and tell stories of the life of Buddha. Many of the caves are built with entrances open to the outdoor air allowing abrasive windblown dust and air pollution present in one of China's largest coal mining districts to enter the caves and subsequently deposit onto the sculptures without restriction. The deposits of dust obscure features of the statues and degrade the painted surfaces.

Nine Dragon Screen (Cưu Long Bich), image001Rate Details:

The Datong Nine Dragon Screen, built over 600 years ago, is presently the oldest and largest glazed screen in China today. It is three times larger than that in Beihai Park , Beijing City.

The screen, built for the thirteenth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), has been well preserved and remains intact to this day. It is made up of 426 specially-fired glazed bricks, with a height of 8 meters (about 26 feet), 2.02 meters (6.6 feet) thick and 45.5 meters (149 feet) long. The Screen can be divided into three parts, the pedestal, body and roof.

The pedestal is rectangular shaped with a height of 2.09 meters (6.9 feet). Its narrow middle section is composed of 75 glazed tiles with images of oxen, dogs, deer rabbits and other animals.

The design of the body is that of a green wave on the lower part and a blue and yellow cloud on the upper part. It consists of nine flying dragons, with a golden-scaled, shiny-eyed dragon located in the center. On each side of the central dragon is a pair of light yellow dragons with their heads pointed East and tails pointed towards the central dragon. A second pair of elegant yellow dragons is next with their heads and tails pointed west. A third pair is ferocious-looking purple dragons which seem to be wrestling with the sea. The fourth pair is highly spirited dragons. The nine dragons are life-like and illustrating their ability of calling the wind and controlling the rainfall. The areas around the dragons are supplemented with images of plants, mountains, stones, water and grass. These patterns along with the nine dragons compliment each other.

The roof is covered with glazed tiles.

There is a pond with a stone bridge located in front of the screen. The reflection of the dragons becomes dynamic, especially when a breeze disturbs the surface of the water.

Huayan Monastery (Hoa Nghiem co tu),

(Local Name: Huayan Si) The Huayan Monastery, to the west of the town center, is one of the few well-preserved sacred buildings from the Liao period (916-1125). Huayan was a school of Buddhist teaching, of which there were many at that time. In 1122 the monastery was destroyed and a new building soon replaced it. Basically, there are two separate complexes: Lower Monastery (Xia Huayan Si) and Upper Monastery (Shang Huayan Si). This division has been in existence since the 15th C. Both monasteries are famous for their religious works of art.

Shanhua Monastery (Thien Hoa Tu).Shanhua Monastery is located in central Datong within the old city walls.Construction commenced in the 8th C but in 1122 a large part fell victim to the fire of that year. It was rebuilt between 1128 and 1143. Today the monastery comprises the Sumptuous Hall of the Great Hero (Liao period, 916-1125), the Hall of the Three Holy Ones (12th C) and the Puxian Pavilion, or Puxian Ge (1154). The temple houses some intricately carved Jin dynasty (265-420AD) statues and has a screen wall decorated with dragons.

Beijing

Summer Palace (from the Ming and Qing dynasties).

Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated, in 1960 by the State Council, as a Key Cultural Relics Protection Site of China. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), during the succeeding reign of feudal emperors; it was extended continuously. By the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. Originally called 'Qingyi Garden' (Garden of Clear Ripples), it was know as one of the famous 'three hills and five gardens' (Longevity Hill, Jade Spring Mountain, and Fragrant Hill; Garden of Clear Ripples, Garden of Everlasting Spring, Garden of Perfection and Brightness, Garden of Tranquility and Brightness, and Garden of
Tranquility and Pleasure). Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name toSummer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public.

Composed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, The Summer Palace occupies an area of 294 hectares (726.5 acres), three quarters of which is water. Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens exquisitely so that visitors would see marvelous views and be amazed by perfect examples of refined craftwork using the finest materials.

Centered on the Tower of Buddhist Incense (Foxiangge) the Summer Palace consists of over 3,000 structures including pavilions, towers, bridges, and corridors. The Summer Palace can be divided into four parts: the court area, front-hill area, front-lake area, and rear-hill and back-lake area.

Front-Hill Area: this area is the most magnificent area in the Summer Palace with the most constructions. Its layout is quite distinctive because of the central axis from the yard of Kunming Lake to the hilltop, on which important buildings are positioned including Gate of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Moral Glory, Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, etc.

Rear-Hill and Back-Lake Area: although the constructions are fewer here, it has a unique landscape, with dense green trees, and winding paths. Visitors can feel a rare tranquility, and elegance. This area includes scenic spots such as Kunming Lake and Back Lake , which presents a tranquil beauty, Garden of Harmonious Interest , built by imitating the layout of Southern China's classical gardens, and Suzhou Market Street, endowed with a strong flavor of the water town Suzhou.

Court Area: this is where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu met officials, conducted state affairs and rested. Entering the East Palace Gate, visitors may see the main palace buildings: the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity served as the office of the Emperor, the Hall of Jade Ripples where Guangxu lived, the Hall of Joyful Longevity, Cixi's residence, the Garden of Virtue and Harmony where Cixi was entertained, Yiyun House , where once lived the Empress Longyu, and Long Gallery, which measures the longest in Chinese gardens.

Front Lake Area: covering a larger part of the Summer Palace, opens up the vista of the lake. A breeze fluttering, waves gleam and willows kiss the ripples of the vast water. In this comfortable area there are the Eastern Bank and Western Bank, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Nanhu Island, the largest island in Summer Palace, Bronze Ox, an imposing statue beside the lake, and Marble Boat, built in western style with elaborate decorations . On the western bank float six distinct bridges amongst which the Jade-Belt Bridge is the most beautiful.


Great Wall of China

The Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 8,851.8 kilometers (5,500 miles) from east to west of China.

The Great Wall as we see today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It starts from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west traversing provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Gansu.

With a history of more than 2000 years, some of the sections are now in ruins or have disappeared. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance.

Ung Hoa Palaceto admire the 18m statue of Buddha Di Lac.

Two great Maitreya Buddha statue is in internal Phuc.Các Vạn Phúc lại gọi là Lầu Đại Phật, là ngôi điện cao nhất trong Ung Hoà Cung.The Van Phuc again called Castle Buddha, is the highest power in the throne Ung Hoa Cung. Nó cao hơn 30 mét, tất cả kiến trúc đều làm bằng gỗ.No higher than 30 meters, all architectural wooden stand. Nhìn từ bên ngoài, trông như một toà nhà cao 3 tầng, nhưng nhìn bên trong thì là một ngôi điện không có sàn ngăn cách, chính giữa là tượng phật Di Lạc bằng gỗ đàn hương trắng lùng danh thế giới.Look from outside, looks like a 3 floor high building, but a look inside the test throne no power to prevent coral way, is the center of the Maitreya Buddha statue with white sandalwood world-renowned. Tượng phật Vi Lạc này cao 26 mét, trong đó có 8 mét chân dưới mặt đất, 18 mét ở ngoài mặt đất, đường kính 8 mét, cả tượng phật nặng 100 tấn, là tượng độc mộc điêu khắc trên lớn nhất trên thế giới.Buddha For Us is 26 meters high, including eight meters feet below ground, 18 meters outside the ground, diameter of 8 meters, all 100 tonnes heavy Buddha, statue is unique umbrella sculpture on the largest in the world.

Tiananmen Square (Thien An Mon),

bannerLoginLocated at the center of Beijing City is Tiananmen Square, where you can visit Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and see the national flag raising ceremony. Thousands of people come to the Square every day. It is the must place to visit in Beijing City.

At the north end of the Square is Tiananmen Tower. Initially built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.- 1644 A.D.), the Square was the front door of the Forbidden City. The most important use of it in the past was to declare in a big ceremony to the common people who became the emperor and who became the empress. Until 1911 when the last feudal kingdom was over, no one could enter the Tower except for the royal family and aristocrats.

The granite Monument to the People's Heroes is just at the center of the Tiananmen Square. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in China's history. 'The People's Heroes are Immortal' written by Chairman Mao is engraved on the monument. Eight unusually large relief sculptures show to the people the development of Chinese modern history. Two rows of white marble railings enclose the monument, simple and beautiful.

West of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. This building, erected in 1959, is the site of the China National People's Congress meetings and provides an impressive site for other political and diplomatic activities. Twelve marble posts are infront of the Hall which has three parts--the Central Hall, the Great Auditorium and a Banqueting Hall. The floor of the Central Hall is paved with marble and crystal lamps hang from the ceiling. The Great Auditorium behind the Central Hall seats 10,000. The Banqueting Hall is a huge hall with 5,000 seats.

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall is at the south side of the Square. This Hall is divided into three halls and our dear Chairman Mao's body lies in a crystal coffin in one of the halls surrounded by fresh bouquets of various famous flowers and grasses.

Another important place for the tourist to visit is the China National Museum at the east side of the Square. It just came into existence in 2003 and is a combination of Chinese History Museum and Chinese Revolutionary Museum. This National Museum faces the Great Hall of the People. Inside the Chinese Revolutionary Museum are a lot of material objects, pictures, books and models to present the development of modern China. The Chinese History Museum shows a large number of cultural relics illustrating the long history and glorious culture of China from 1,700,000 years ago to 1921 when the last emperor left the throne.

Five Star Red Flag-the Chinese national flag, flies high in the sky above the Square. To see the guard of honor raise the Flag is a must for the tourist visiting Beijing City. You have to get up very early and arrive at the Square before sunrise. Only by doing so can you see the ceremony clearly as there are crowds of people attending the ceremony every day.


The present Tiananmen Square has an area of 440,000 square meters and has become a relaxing place for the common people to fly kites and walk. On a holiday, the whole square is covered with fresh flowers.

Forbidden City (Tu Cam Thanh).

bannerLoginLying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 rooms. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Divine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park. The distance between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between the gates in the east and west walls is 750 meters. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside.

The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.

Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan, a suburb of Beijing. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces.

Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, the Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy 'modern civilians'.

Collected by Quang Tue Lien

----o0o---

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