In Photos: Wutaishan Scenic Area, Shanxi, China

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Wutai shan Scenic Area

Wutai Shan Scenic Area

Wutai Shan (or Five Plateau Mountain) refers to Buddhism’s sacred northern mountain range in Shanxi Province. The area is considered the earthly abode of Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. It’s a popular pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and Chinese tourists alike.

The five peaks form a valley that contains fifteen temples and a small town called Táihuái. There’s not much to Táihuái, apart from cheap hotels, tourist restaurants and religious artefact shops. The town is pretty dead, and a rare visiting foreigner seems to be the days amusement for most of the inhabitants.

Panorama

The surrounding hillsides contain another thirty temples and many more under construction.

Xiantong Temple

Xiantong Temple - the temples are surrounded by pink cherry and peach trees

 

Renegade Monk

Renegade Monk

 

Monks

Monks about to get angry

 

Tayuan Temple Stupa

Tayuan Temple Stupa

Tayuan Temple

The main stupa at the Tayuan temple has become the symbol of the temple area. Pilgrims come to walk it’s circumference, spinning the numerous prayer wheels.

Not everything is peaceful here. After the local monks left their meeting they discovered a ragged-looking monk from another temple praying outside the scripture hall. I expected them to welcome him and offer sustenance, but instead they surrounded him shouting and waving sticks. The visiting monk was declared a renegade and a pilgrim who offered him water was also berated as encouraging him.

I obviously don’t know the full story, but it didn’t look particularly religious to the casual observer.

Tayuan Temple Stupa Detail

Tayuan Temple Stupa Detail

 

Xiantong Temple Interior

The interior of the scripture hall

The Beamless Hall

Further inside Xingtong Temple is the Beamless Hall. This area if famed for containing some of the oldest wooden buildings in China, so entering the Beamless hall was quite a surprise. The walls and high roof are built from deep layers of bricks, reminiscent of the churches in Eastern Europe.

Inside is another Buddha, a small golden pagoda and rows of rather unnerving monk mannequins.

Beamless Temple

The Beamless Temple

 

Beamless Temple Interior 2

Inside the Beamless Temple visitors are watched by rows of monks

 

Beamless Temple Interior 1

The pagoda and even more monks inside the Beamless Temple

Hall of Manjusri

The final building at ground level is the Hall of Manjusri.

Hall of Manjusri

Monk tending the braziers outside the Hall of Manjusri

 

Hall of Manjusri Interior

The 15-faced, 1000-armed Bodhisattva

The Bronze Hall

After the Hall of Manjusri the temple climbs up to the Bronze Hall, surrounded by numerous small pagodas.

The Bronze Hall is a 5 metre high, 50 tonne miniature replica of a Ming pavilion made in 1606 and gilded in gold. It contains 10,000 mini-Buddha and a snoring monk.

Bronze Hall

Bronze Hall

 

Bronze Hall 3

 

Bronze Hall 2

 

Bronze Hall 1

From up by the Bronze Hall it’s possible to look down over the rooftops at the surrounding temples.

Temple Roofs
 

Roof Detail 1

Pusa Ding

Roof Detail 2

Newly painted temple atop Pusa Ding

There are 108 steps up to Pusa Ding, 108 being the number of beads on a Buddhist rosary

Pusa Ding 108 steps

The 108 steps up to Pusa Ding

Having finished climbing from the top to the bottom of the temple complex, we finally reached the cook house. The wok below is five feet across, and the room contains four – enough to cater for all the temples inhabitants.

Giant Wok

Giant Wok

See the previous post for Wutai Shan entrance fees and visitor tips

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5 Responses to In Photos: Wutaishan Scenic Area, Shanxi, China

  1. Alexa Meisler May 24, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Beautiful. I like the story about the crazy monks. It’s rare that you hear stories about them waving sticks wanting to hit them. Amazing shots!

  2. steve June 21, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    If anyone wants a Chinese version, it’s here, hotlinked images and all: http://www.ltaaa.com/wtfy/4522.html

  3. tripbetter.blogspot.com December 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Great photos! I was in Wu Tai Shan some time ago. Definitely impressive, but yeah I remember one funny story. When I was looking at a Tibetan monk prostrating himself on the ground he turned around and asked me for cash. No comment.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. (@BlogExpat) (@BlogExpat) - May 17, 2012

    RT @SteveWBT: In Photos: Wandering round the temples at Wutaishan Scenic Area, Shanxi, China – http://t.co/CRfmqXWq

  2. Our Oyster (@our_oyster) - May 26, 2012

    Reading: In Photos: Wutaishan Scenic Area, Shanxi, China – http://t.co/yU3O9DTB via @SteveWBT

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