On numerous spiritual sites, the ancients have left their mark, and visitors from the country and beyond continue to be led to these beautiful and inspiring locations.
Leshan- The Giant Buddha
Leshan’s Giant Buddha in Sichuan Province is a Tang Dynasty architectural wonder. Carved from a cliff face, this is the world’s highest stone Buddha statue, and maybe the highest pre-modern statue in the world. The Giant Buddha overlooks three rivers ‘ confluence and faces the holy Mount Emei. The construction history is a fascinating one.
In 713, a Chinese monk named Haitong had the idea of building the Giant Buddha in hopes of calming the tumultuous waters that made the ships ‘ passage tough at the time. After some hiccups with government funding, construction was finally completed in the year 803 as tourists can visit the site today with calmer waters and engine-powered ferries.
Longmen Caves- Henan
Make your way to Luoyang, Henan, for the Longmen Caves, for another spiritual place that is a testament to classical art and skill. The region extends one kilometer along the Yi River and houses to some 1,350 caves and 40 pagodas. Like Leshan’s Buddha, these statues are sculptured from the cliffs, adding to the meaning of creating art with nature a whole new dimension. The design you see here is a reflection of art not only from the Tang dynasty, but over half a millennium of art in China as carving work lasted from the 5th century A.D. for 500 years.
Not only do the caves feature religious artifacts, but they also have fascinating inscriptions such as those contained in the Medical Prescription Cave, which includes prescriptions for a wide range of illnesses. The platform has English descriptions that are always a relief to those who prefer to travel independently without a guide. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as if you were going to explore thoroughly, you would walk up and down several stairs.
For Taoists, Mount Taishan is one of the five holiest or spiritual mountains. Located in the province of Shandong, Mount Taishan extends over three towns and its highest peak, the Jade Emperor Mountain, is more than 1,500 meters high. The mountain has great historical and cultural importance for the Chinese and has been worshiped for thousands of years by royalty and regular folks.
According to a legend, 72 emperors from different dynasties made pilgrimages to Mt. Tai to pray to heaven, earth, and ancestors. To be inspired by its majestic beauty, poets and scholars have visited the peak. The Temple of the Taishan God hosts a thousand-year-old Taoist masterpiece painting and trees. What is interesting about Mount Taishan is that man-made elements such as architecture, painting and sculpture are well blended into the mountain landscape, showing that man and nature are doing well in harmony with each other.
The Taoists, like the Buddhists, have their holy mountains. For Chinese Buddhists, Mount Jiuhua in the province of Anhui is one of the four spiritual mountains. Shrines and temples dedicated to Kshitigarbha, the Salvation Bodhisattva, are nestled in the mountains. A touch of delicate tranquility brings to this position the presence of lakes, caves and woods.
Historically, a Silla prince had been cultivating himself on Mount Jiuhua for more than seven decades, and Li Bai, one of China’s greatest poets, had himself visited the mountain. Be ready for a long trip and climbing, but if you get a glimpse of the surrounding scenery, it would all be worth it.
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