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Mt. Jinhua

Jiuhua Mountain rises in Chizhou Prefecture in the south part of Anhui Province to a height of 4,400 feet above the sea level.   To its north is the Yangtze River.   The mountain range is 25 miles from the south and over 18 miles from the east to the west.   The road we traveled was lined with bamboo forests.   The big bamboo, 6-8 inches in diameter at the base of the tall shafts.   The bamboo bends in the winds and provides a wave of green.   The road was very narrow in places with sharp hairpin curves.

We awoke to a fine day and had an hour or so trip to look forward to for the day.

Once we arrived it was time for a restroom stop at a local hotel.   Just outside the entrance to this hotel, several of us spotted this moth, I think it is a moth.   It was located on a gold colored fabric covered column and it was most difficult to photograph.   It is about six inches long.

Jiuhua Mountain is one of the four holy Buddhist mountains in China.   Ancient temples and beautiful scenery attract Buddhist followers and tourists from both home and abroad.   The desolate and tranquil environment attracted many Taoists and Buddhists to build temples on Jiuhua Mountain.   Taoist services started as early as the Western Han Dynasty (2068.C-25A.D.   During the Ming Dynasty the number of temples was once as many as 190 with 5,000 monks and nuns.   Buddhist followers, including some from the Southeastern Asian countries came to pay homage to this holy mountain.   So far 59 temples have been renovated and are open to visitors, more than 1,000 Buddhist statues have been gilded again, 2,000 items of cultural relics have been sorted out, 13 historical sites have been restored.   Today there are 86 temples, 6,800 Buddhist statues and 700 Buddhist monks and nuns on Jiuhua Mountain.

Qiyuansi, or Tending Garden Monastery, is the largest of the Jiuhuashan temples.   Originally built in the mid 16th century during the reign of emperor Jiajing of the Ming dynasty, the current architecture is more influenced by the renovations that occurred during the Qing Dynasty.   The temple holds the only known copies of Buddhist sutras printed by imperial order in that era. Visitors entering the temple will first see the Bier Palace Hall (Linggong Dian) that houses a statue of the Buddha flanked by two warrior attendants.   Next is the Buddhist Deities Hall (Tianwang Dian) where four statues guard the four heavenly directions.   A few steps away is the Grand Hall (Daxiong Baodian) that houses a Buddhist triad on lotus flowers.   The other halls contain numerous statues of arhats and Buddhas.

Just as we were entering this temple a large group of monks also entered.   They took their seat and after a time started to chant as we have heard Buddhist monks do.   It was quite nice to hear the chants although none of us knew what the chant was about.   Arnold told us that these were new to monk hood and were learning the chants.

On our way to the next temple, we passed this lotus pond and a shop selling Chinese medicinal herbs.   These look like either mushrooms of some type or sliced lotus root.

Dabeilou (part of Zhantanlin Temple complex) is a modern interpretation of a traditional temple.   Of the three main halls, two are under construction and one is newly built.   The largest hall, which will sit in the middle, does not yet even have a foundation.   The complex is called Tanchanlin and is being built with the cooperation of the architecture school at Tsinghua University in Beijing.   The halls have concrete foundations and brick walls in places, but they also have traditional wood and tile roofs and the yard, when photographed, was full of huge tree trunks that will be used as the support pillars for the roof of the large central hall.

This is, for lack of a better description, a wooden bell.   However, it does not have a clapper but is struck on the outside.   It is about 24 inches from the bottom to the top of the handle.

Zhantanlin Temple is an architectural complex with a history of more than 200 years.   In the center is a rostrum built of blue rocks, on which is the main hall of the temple where is enshrined a gold-coated statue of Sakyamuni, together with the statues of Guanyin and King Dizang.   Non-painted wooden sculptures are found everywhere in the temple.

There was more to see at the top of the mountain.   It was a short ride on a funicular.   From the point where we stopped it was a walk over a narrow trail to another temple, featuring a mummified Buddha.   It was impossible to photograph because it was so dark.   Along the trail, there we came across a number of padlocks that had been locked to a chain.   There was a little stand where the locks could be purchased and engraved with names or passages.   The locks were symbols of a couple's love for each other and for good luck.

Also here was another building housing 500 Buddhas.   They were numbered so there were 500.   The building is shown on the left in the first photograph below.   A little difficult to find where the Buddhas were but there was a man there pointing us in the right direction, down that way and up a very narrow and steep stair.

Finished here, it was back down the funicular, walk back to the bus and the trip down the mountain to our boat.   Oh, except for the top of the mountain, it was hot, very hot.   Drank lots of water.

Tomorrow — Jindezhen