Jiuhuashan (九华山), one of the 4 great Buddhist mountain in China, dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Great Vow, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (地藏菩萨). It is located on the southern end of Anhui province (安徽省), just south of the Chang Jiang river (长江) and north of the famous Yellow mountain (黄山).
Day 1 - To Jiuhua Shan
I left on the 17th May (Thursday) early morning and boarded the 7.36am T776 express train from Wuxi (无锡) station. It cost 87RMB for the ride with another 10RMB for my train reservation by my hotel. The train will take me past Nanjing (南京), which is the furthest I have been so far in China, to the rural countryside of Anhui province and finally to the city of Tong Ling (铜陵).
On the 5 hours ride, the train travel from the bustling urban skyscrapers of Jiangsu to the remote agricultural regions of Anhui.
Lunch was served early at 10.45am after it departed from Nanjing. Costing 10RMB, the packet lunch has quite a good spread of meat, vegetables, eggs and rice. My carriage was only 20% occupied after Nanjing, so everyone can easily take a nap throughout the journey. This long ride also gives me the opportunity to read up and study for the coming trip. For me, this trip is a cross between sight-seeing and prigrimage.
For visitors who are also travelling to Jiuhuashan from Tong Ling, there are no long-distance bus departing from the official bus station in the afternoon. There are only two services which depart from there in the morning. But there are express buses which are stationed directly outside the train station which provides transport to Jiuhuashan also. It cost 20RMB for a single trip and takes 2 hours in all. They will depart only when the buses are full, these buses are stationed there just to pick up visitors alighting from the T776 train from Shanghai. The bus which I was taking departed at 1.25pm, 30 minutes after I got off from the train.
Tong Ling is a small city, but it has a number of heavy industries as can be seen from the photos below. Pipelines linking up different areas of heavy industries is a prominent sight along the route.
An hour and a half after departure, indications that we are arriving soon to Jiuhuashan come into sight. There are many shops selling incense and a strong scent of fragant incense permeat through the entire area.
In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at the official entrance of Jiuhuashan park. From here is officially the base of the mountain and it is here where visitors purchase the entrance ticket to the park. It cost 140RMB and allow visitors to hop on the internal buses freely for 3 days.
I boarded the internal bus which is expected to take me up to Jiuhua village which is located at mid-mountain, some 600 metres above sea level. The ride passes by some picturesque scene of mountain valley and finely cultivated agricultural land.
The bus began its vertical ascent. The roads are narrow and winding as with all mountain track.
After 20 minutes, we finally arrived at Jiuhua street. This is the main official entrance of the entire park where the entrance ticket is stamped.
There are a large number of accommodations and restaurants in this area. With many coming forward to offer lodging if you have not done so.
I made my way round the street first and came upon this large temple after a 5 minutes walk.
It is here where I decided to go into every temple which I come upon in Jiuhuashan to offer my respect. A further walk down the street is to the one of the main track up the mountain. It actually leads to the 肉身宝殿.
There are several great masters which are encased in this hall. The most prominent of which is Kim Di Zhan (金地藏). He was a Tang dynasty monk from Korea and was renowned for his great spiritual achievements. After his passing at the age of 99, his body was do not undergo the normal decomposition process as with normal people for many centuries, even up to today.
From the hall, it is a long pathway down back to the street.
Passing by several pavilions along the way.
Here is the main temple hall at the bottom of the hill.
There is a large lotus pond at Jiuhua street. But non of the lotus are booming now.
In the middle of Jiuhua street is a large pond where people can release fishes and turtles. Liberation of animals is consider a great deed.
After walking through the entire length of Jiuhua Street, I guess it is time for me to check to a accommodation. I had intended to stay overnight at one of the temples, and I happen to ask one of the venerables at the Min Tian Gong (闵殿宫) temple whether do they know of any temple offering lodgings. Coincidentally they do, so I just accept it happily. The rate is 20RMB per night and I opted for breakfast and dinner which goes at 3RMB per meal.
The bathing facilities are mediocre but it is acceptable. Sun set at 7.15pm daily and the temple begins its evening chants at 9pm. Thereafter is all lights-out. The morning is started each day at 3am with morning lessons, breakfast is served at 6am. Generally I have my dinner at 6pm and breakfast at 7am. The dishes are simple with porridge and some vegetables being served for breakfast, and dinner being rice and a few more vegetarian dishes.
Day 2 - To the mountain top
Just next to Min Tian Gong is a flight of stairs leading to the top of the mountain. It took my 30 minutes to climb to the top. But there are pavilions, stupas and ancient carvings along the way to the peak. So it is worth the climb up.
The sight at the top is really refreshing after a vigorous journey up. But I was slightly surprise to note that there is a valley that separate this peak to top of the mountain.
Temples and pagodas dot the top of this mountain range.
There is a temple procession going on in one of the temple.
Past the temples, there is a flight of stairs leading to a gold plated Pagoda, the 10,000 Pagoda.
From the pagoda is another 30 minutes walk down hill to the bottom of the valley. There is a village at the valley. It has quite a sizable number of temples, shops and houses.
The oldest pine tree in China is at Jiuhuashan.
From the village, it is another 5 km of mountain track up to the highest peak. Here is where the climb begins.
The mountain has lots of bamboo trees, temples, and pavilions on the way up. Fortunately, there are also frequent rest stops where travellers can stop for a can of drink.
The view from the mountain top is really majestic.
Some noteworthy prilgrims prostrated their way up from the mountain base.
Getting to the mountain top where the cable car is took me a full 1 hour walk.
At the mountain top, there are many unique and famous rock formations.
And here we are! Mount Tian Tai. Tian Tai temple (天台寺) provides lodging and meals for visitors. Lodgings are ideal for travellers who would like to catch the sunrise the next morning. I had my lunch there which cost 5RMB. In all, I arrived at 11am to the top, with three and a half hours spent in all walking from Jiu Hua street to Mount Tian Tai.
There are many mountain tracks linking to other parts of Jiu Hua Shan. A small mist start to descend upon the mountain.
When the wind blows, the entire mountain start to resonate like sea waves. It is actually caused by bamboo fluttering in the wind.
I took a cable car down from the top. It cost 55RMB up and 50RMB down.
There is another temple a distance from Jiu Hua street which has an eminent monk encased in it. It is Bai Sui Gong (百岁宫). It is whitewashed, giving it a look similar to the Potala Palace in Tibet.
Finally I am back to Jiu Hua street and visited the museum to find out more about its history. The museum is situated around a temple, which is one of the first temple to be built in the mountain.
Finally, sun set upon this beautful landscape.