Mount Wutai [Photo/VCG]
Mount Wutai sits in northeastern Shanxi province, 230 kilometers from the capital Taiyuan, and is, along with Sichuan's Mount Emei, Anhui's Mount Jiuhua, and Mount Putuo in Zhejiang province, one of the four famous sacred Buddhist mountains of China.
Covering 593 square kilometers, Mount Wutai is named after its five peaks which resemble five giant columns rising from the earth. Crowded with peaks and cliffs, the cool climate of Mount Wutai makes it a popular summer tourist resort.
Mount Wutai is also home to one of China's oldest Buddhist temple sites, which dates back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and sits at the feet of towering pagodas.
Mount Wutai's architecture draws from different dynasties, all of which utilized sculpture, stone inscriptions, frescoes and calligraphy. At the height of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the area held more than 300 temples and monasteries, but most were damaged or demolished over many centuries.
The area is now home to 41 monasteries, including the tallest surviving Tang Dynasty timber building, the East Main Hall of Foguang Temple and its life-size clay sculptures, and the Ming Dynasty Shuxiang Temple with its 500 statues detailing Buddhist stories and history.
Wutai is said to have been the residence of Bodhisattva Manjusri. During various historical periods, Buddhists from Korea, Japan and Mongolia, and those from as far away as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, made pilgrimages to Wutai or went there to study Buddhism. Wutai is also China's only Buddhist Bodhimanda to combine both Han and Tibetan Buddhism.
Mount Wutai generally operates as a tourist destination combining natural scenery, ancient architecture, historical heritage, Buddhist culture, folk customs and elements of a summer resort.
Mount Wutai was included in 1982 by the State Council in the first tier of national level scenic areas. Over the years, its standing and reputation have grown and it is now regarded as a national key scenic area, national geological park, national natural and cultural heritage location, and national 5A tourism scenic spot. Mount Wutai was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2009.
Address: Taihuai town, Wutai county, Xinzhou city, Shanxi province