Jiu Hua Shan Pilgrimage

Jiuhuashan, one of the remotest of the Chinese holy mountains, is located in Anhui province, west of Shanghai. The Jiuhuashan range actually covers about 100 square km and consists of 99 peaks, the tallest being 1341m. Originally revered by Taoists who first built temples in the third century, Jiuhuashan then became a site for devotees of the Bodhisatva Kshitigarbha, guardian of the earth, after a devout Korean Buddhist named Jin Qiaojue went there in the eighth century and lived as a hermit in a cave on one of the peaks. Once there were over 3,000 monks and nuns at Jiuhuashan and is still perhaps the most religiously active of China's Buddhist holy mountains. It is much visited especially on the Bodhisatva Kshitigarbha’s birthday, the 30th day of the 7th Lunar month (falling sometime in August or September). Note that Huangshan, often considered to be China's most picturesque mountain, but which is not a holy mountain, is also part of the same range.

Getting There

The fastest way to get there is still fairly slow - take the train from Shanghai to Nanjing (2-4 hours depending on train type). Transfer to the Hanfu Jie bus station and take the bus directly to Jiuhuashan (4-7 hours depending on roads and traffic).
Alternatively, an even slower, but perhaps more interesting way, is by boat from Nanking to Wuhu (a day), from where you may take a bus (3 hours).

Getting Around

Start at Jiuhua village (where there are also several temples, particularly Huacheng Si and Roushen Si) and make your way along mountain paths and explore 70 Buddhist temples and monasteries that dot the mountains. If you do not want to walk, take a cable car from the valley to Tiantai Zheng peak at 1341m or hire porters to carry you up.
The largest temple, at the base of the eastern ridge, is the Qiyuan Si. Above it, is the Baisui Gong, consisting of several towers and courtyards.

Staying There

There are many hotels and hostels in the village of Jiuhuashan. If you want to hike and stay along the way, arrangements can be made at monasteries, as well as small inns.

Buddhist Holy Mountains
Pu Tuo Shan, Zhejiang province, 284 meters. Sacred to Kuan-Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Wu Tai Shan, Shanxi province, 3061 meters. Sacred to Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.
Emei Shan, Sichuan province, 3099 meters. Sacred to Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Benevolent Action.
Jiu Hua Shan, Anhui province, 1341 meters. Sacred to Kshitigarbha, the Bodhisattva of Salvation. 

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