Shan Emei Mountain Landscape (World Heritage)
The 3099 m high Shan Emei is one of the sacred mountains of Buddhism. Of the once more than 100 temples, only a few have survived since the Cultural Revolution. The most spectacular object in the mountain region is the seated Big Buddha of Leshan, which was carved out of the mountain by monks in the 8th century and, with a height of 71 m, is the largest Buddha statue in the world.
Shan Emei Mountain Landscape: Facts
|Official title:||Mountain landscape Shan Emei and “Leshan Big Buddha”|
|Cultural and natural monument:||since 1982 landscape and nature reserve, including zones for the preservation of threatened plant species, including for the preservation of 29 rhododendron species, for the preservation of the up to 20 m high pigeon tree (Davidia involucrata) and the Judas tree leaf (Cerdifiphyllum japonicum), for the preservation of Kingdonia uniflora and the three-leaved species Trillium tschonoskii; 3099 m high »Golden Summit« (Jinding) of Emei Shan with temples such as Baoguo Si (»Temple of Commitment to the Land«), Wannian Si (»Temple of the 10,000 Years«) and a 60 t heavy copper statue of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (982), Leiyin Si (“Temple of the Thunderbolt”), the Qianfo’an (“Monastery of 1000 Buddhas”), the “Pond of the Bathing Elephant” (Xixiang Chi); 71 m high “Big Buddha” from Leshan (713-803)|
|Location:||Emei Shan and the “Giant Buddha”, southeast of Leshan, at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi, southwest of Chengdu|
|Meaning:||the “Buddhist Paradise” of China|
|Flora and fauna:||5 vegetation zones, including evergreen subtropical rainforest below 1500 m and subalpine coniferous forest above 2800 m; 3200 plant species, including 31 nationally protected species, 1600 species of medicinal plants, only occurring here such as the peppery Piper omeiensis and the birch family Betula trichogemma; 2300 animal species, of which 157 are endangered or specially protected such as serau, panda bear, collar bear and Chinese giant salamander|
Pilgrim Mountain and Giant Buddha
Like the elegantly curved eyebrows of a beautiful woman, the Emei Shan massif stands out against the sky. This also gave it its name: “Mountain of the curved eyebrow”. In addition to the mountains Wutai, Putuo and Jiuhua Shan, the Chinese count the enchanted mountain landscape of the Emei among the “four sacred mountains of Buddhism”. It is considered to be the home of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, the “universally blessed” who is venerated in East Asia as the patron saint of meditators. In the distant past, Samantabhadra is said to have set out in distant India to cross the Himalayas, to settle with his white elephant on Mount Emei and since then have shown the believers the way to salvation.
The pilgrimage path, on which thousands of devout Buddhists and also less religiously motivated hikers flock to the summit every year, leads through lush green forests and past clear streams and waterfalls. In the higher regions, narrow stone steps wind their way up the rugged slopes, which are populated by herds of monkeys. They act as highwaymen who do not shy away from brazen attacks on the pilgrims’ provisions.
Dark monasteries along the way, filled with the scent of incense, offer pilgrims simple accommodation for the night as well as tea and simple vegetarian meals to strengthen themselves. If you lose your strength, you can also let yourself be carried up the mountain on the back of a porter.
Probably the most interesting temple of the mountain range is the “Temple of 10,000 Years”, which houses the centuries-old monumental bronze sculpture of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra on his mount, the white elephant. In the “elephant bathing pond” at a small, crooked monastery, which is picturesquely nestled against a cliff, the said white elephant is said to have refreshed himself while bathing from his long journey from India.
When you finally reach the summit region of the Emei Shan, however, suddenly the rest and contemplation is over, as a road ends here today, which brings busloads of tourists up the mountain. A modern gondola lift finally overcomes the last few meters to the 3099 meter high “Golden Summit”. Everything is crowded here to observe a rare natural phenomenon, »the light of Buddha«: circular refractions of light, so-called »halos«, glowing in all the colors of the rainbow. In the past, this “dance of lights” was interpreted by pious Buddhists as signals from the Buddha. They viewed this as the entrance to nirvana, the redemption from the suffering of the world. Some of these “enlightened ones” therefore tried to pass through the rings of light and plunged into the depths in anticipation of redemption.
When the view is clear, one can see another, much more concrete attraction of the area with the naked eye from the summit: the monumental Buddha statue in Leshan, 30 kilometers away, is 71 meters high and is the largest seated Buddha figure in the world and early 9th century was struck from a cliff at the confluence of the Dadu, Qingyi and Minjiang rivers on the initiative of a monk named Haitong. Since at the confluence of these rivers boat people were repeatedly shipwrecked in the strong current, a monumental, originally gilded and painted Buddha figure was supposed to protect them from this misfortune. Even if in a less psychic way, this goal was actually achieved, since the rock that fell into the river when the statue was carved out
Until recently, according to mathgeneral, Chinese families enjoyed picnicking on the Buddha’s big toe. Today this is forbidden, because although the figure was equipped by its creators with an internal pipe system for the drainage of rainwater, the figure threatens to be destroyed by weathering. Recently there have been plans for a huge transparent hood, which should protect the figure from wind, weather and the air pollution that is unfortunately omnipresent in China.