Wutai Shan Temples - 22nd June 2008 @ 10:06 am «   »

Location: China, Shanxi Province : Wutai Shan Temples

On Saturday morning we woke up to perfect blue skies! This was a big thing as it was the first time that we’ve seen actual rays of sunlight since we arrived in China. It was an absolutely perfect day and it was great to have the whole morning to explore a handful of selected temples in the village of Wutai Shan before having to take the bus back to Taiyuan.

We started with the main Tayuan temple and it’s distinctive white stupa. As you’ll notice from our photos, the enormous stupa can be seen from everywhere in the valley and was in fact visible from the trail the we did up the North Peak the previous day – more than 20km away.

The Tayuan temple is the main attraction in the village and is also the point through which most pilgrims pass (to spin the massive prayer wheels at the base) before making their way up the North Peak. We obviously did it in the opposite order, but we think we were blessed anyhow.

From there we popped into a smaller temple on the way to Xiantong temple as there was a live opera show being performed. The massive Xiantong temple holds, amongst a huge amount of attractions, a 15-faced, thousand-armed statue of Bodhisattva in the Manjusri hall. They were in the middle of a service when we arrived and we had the chance to see hundreds of monks perform ritualistic prayers and offerings.

Moving on past the 5m tall, 50 tonne golden Buddha statue we exited the temple and, after passing through a few smaller ones, eventually got to the top of Bodhisattva Peak which was our last temple for the day. It’s reached via a final 108 steps, the amount of beads on the Buddhist rosary.

It was noon and we had to get back to the hotel to gather our bits and get on a bus. The supposed 4-hour ride from Taiyuan took 6 hours on the way here so we had to leave plenty of spare time. To our delight the return trip was a comparatively swift 3 hours for some reason, but it meant that we had about 5 hours to kill before our overnight train to Xi’an. We spent some time in an internet cafe and had a lovely dinner before heading to the train station.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

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