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Mount Wutai March 17 - 18

Visit to the Holy Buddhist Mountain of Wutai

sunny 29 °F
View Buddhist Pilgrimmage on inchinahil's travel map.

March 17

Our rented van came by the hotel this morning at around 0800, so we packed up and headed out to the Mount Wutai area. The weather was cool, almost cold with a few clouds in the sky. The trip took about three hours total which brought us to the normal entrance one expects to see at such a mountain site. Since we had made a packaged deal with the tour agency who provided us with the van, the driver had to make all the arrangements with the state-run cultural area.

01_MTWutaiMaps

01_MTWutaiMaps

Some very Tibetan-looking touts came up to sell us some maps. Of course, I had to buy one, against the wishes of Sunee.

01_WutaiHotel

01_WutaiHotel

About forty minutes up the mountain we are dropped off at our hotel. The hotel was just OK but later we would find that it had little or no heat and the temperature was going to get really cold at night.

02_Lunch

02_Lunch

Since it was around noon when we checked into our hotel rooms, we went ahead and had lunch at the hotel restaurant. Not too expensive and not too good but enough to get by.

03_buswaiting

03_buswaiting

There is always a system of transportation on all of these famous mountains from Emei to Huang. Usually the entrance ticket will get one a free ride on buses going up and down the mountain. Wutai was no different. We walked out to the front of our hotel and caught the first bus headed up the mountain. We traveled on it all the way to as far as it was going and then worked our way down. Actually we did not have that much time so we only visited three temples.

04_IncenseBurn

04_IncenseBurn

The temple where the bus stopped was very small and obviously very old. It was active as I saw several monks strolling around or studying in the courtyards.

05_firstvisit

05_firstvisit

The wood on the entrance was well-worn but still in good shape. We spent about half an hour in this small temple and the pictures taking opportunities were excellent as you can see from the following samples.

05_insidebuddha

05_insidebuddha

06_Monkstudy

06_Monkstudy

07_Monkclose

07_Monkclose

08_columns

08_columns

08_WutaishanHdr2

08_WutaishanHdr2

09_insidebuddha

09_insidebuddha

10_Prayders

10_Prayders

When we came out of this temple I saw this older gentlemen sitting on the steps in a position of prayer or meditation. Very authentic!

11_waiting

11_waiting

We also saw this group of nuns waiting for the bus. One came in about ten minutes and we all climbed aboard headed to the big temple we had seen coming up the road.

12_onbuspass

12_onbuspass

On the way down, I snapped this picture of a temple on the left. It appeared to be a temple where the monks were interned after their passing. Reminded me of what we had seen at Shao Lin Temple in Hunan Province and the little temple near Fuhu Temple on Mount Emei.

13_GreatWhiteDagoba

13_GreatWhiteDagoba

The Tayuan Temple on Mount Wutai with its Great White Dagoba is supposed to be one of the most important. We spent a couple of hours visiting it and, of course, I took a lot of pictures.

14_tayuan

14_tayuan

15_mtntemple

15_mtntemple

16_TayuanEntrance

16_TayuanEntrance

17_tayuanside

17_tayuanside

18_Monkandguys

18_Monkandguys

19_HappyBuddha

19_HappyBuddha

20_HappyBase

20_HappyBase

21_walkway

21_walkway

22_coldcourtyard

22_coldcourtyard

As is evident of the snow, the temperature was right at freezing and with the wind it was downright cold.

23_toilets

23_toilets

When one has to, one has to. One of the worst "has to" places I have had the misfortune of visiting outside the silk road to Western China. Talk about rustic!

24_smalldagoba

24_smalldagoba

25_fish

25_fish

26_MainHall

26_MainHall

27_Burner

27_Burner

28_TempleCourtyard

28_TempleCourtyard

29_monkwork

29_monkwork

30_swingprater

30_swingprater

One of the most interesting areas of the temple was the prayer wheels that wen all around the base of one of the buildings. I saw several monks and nuns walking around this base and spinning the wheels.

31_PrayerWheel

31_PrayerWheel

32_spinning

32_spinning

33_Morespinners

33_Morespinners

And the spinning continues, continues, continues. . .

34_WutaiPagodaview

34_WutaiPagodaview

This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip. It was taken from the side of Tayuan temple looking out toward the mountains in the distance. Beautiful!

36_tourguide

36_tourguide

This is the tour guide who eventually helped us get a van the next day for our continuation trip to Datong. She looked to be very Tibetan but was very nice.

37_pagodafront

37_pagodafront

One final picture of the temple (HDR with multiple exposure modes). The sky was especially beautiful this day.

Getting back to the hotel was a breeze as we only had to wait a few minutes to catch it. The tour guide made the appropriate phone calls and we had a van to our next destination scheduled at around 1000 the next morning. That night, however, was the coldest I have been since we lived in Alaska in the early 1980s. It was cold!

March18

The next morning we got up really early. Sunee had made arrangements for us to take a couple of taxis up to the Guan Yin Temple about half an hour or so away. She wanted to visit this temple specifically because she had been watching a lot of Chinese movies with this temple as the backdrop. The wind was gusting and the air was very cold when we got into the taxi and went to visit the temple.

101_StepsFront

101_StepsFront

Arriving to the temple found it locked up tight. It took a good fifteen or twenty minutes to roust the monks up to open the doors for us. They were friendly but professional as we entered the temple.

102_Guanyingfront

102_Guanyingfront

103_Guanyingtowerview

103_Guanyingtowerview

105_Gurnyingview

105_Gurnyingview

107_roustedmonk

107_roustedmonk

I was able to take several pictures outside before we got a monk to open the doors. He was neither unhappy nor happy to see us.

108_WheelBuddha

108_WheelBuddha

Inside we found Guan Yin as expected but also a beautiful temple.

109_FirstCourtyard

109_FirstCourtyard

110_SecondCourt

110_SecondCourt

The temple had at least two courtyards and it was obvious that this temple was very old but well maintained.

111_Guanyin1

111_Guanyin1

112_Guanyin2

112_Guanyin2

114_Guanyin4

114_Guanyin4

Back inside out of the wind (but not the cold) I took several more pictures of the images. We were in a hurry so we got our taxis back down to our hotel where our van to Datong awaited us. Sunee negotiated a shopping stop on the way out of the area, so I had a few more minutes to find some things to photograph.

115_anothertemple

115_anothertemple

This temple was across the street from where Sunee and family were shopping. It was about half way up the mountain and very nice.

116_Coldgirl

116_Coldgirl

In front of the store where Sunee was shopping, I saw a bunch of Tibetan women hanging around waiting for something. This was the best I could do from inside the van without bringing any attention to myself. It was just too cold to get out of the car and take pictures!

We left Mount Wutai about 1100 and it took a little over two hours to get to our negotiated next site - The Wood Pagoda.

118_Frontgate

118_Frontgate

Bye bye Mount Wutai!

119_Mutatown

119_Mutatown

Hello, Yingxian and the wooden pagoda or Shuozhou Pagoda. Sunee and I stopped here on our Courtyard Trip the year before and I loved it.

120_mutafrontgate

120_mutafrontgate

This pagoda is about 45 miles from our next destination of Datong so we could spend a couple of hours here and have lunch as well. The pagoda is the oldest and highest wooden structure in China. According to the TravelChinaGuide internet site (http://www.travelchinaguide.com)it is regarded as the 'First Pagoda in the World." It was built around 1056 and is

Built during the Liao Dynasty (about 1056), this wooden pagoda has about 900 years of history. It has a height of about 220 feet tall with around 100 foot diameter long. "The Pagoda appears as a five-storey structure, but in fact it has a total of nine stories with four hidden inside." Unfortunately ne can only go up to the second floor. This time all the windows were closed to keep out the wind so there was very little to see. I got some great shots the last time from this second floor. The wood in the structure is in fairly good shape with a lot of wear and tear in some areas. I have always wondered how this structure survived the Cultural Revolution when so many of these old temple buildings were burned to the ground.

121_mutadoubleguardshdr

121_mutadoubleguardshdr

122_Mutafront

122_Mutafront

123_mutaguanyin

123_mutaguanyin

124_Mutahappy

124_Mutahappy

126_scary

126_scary

127_Mutastraight

127_Mutastraight

128-Sidebuddha

128-Sidebuddha

As you can see, I still took lots of pictures. The pagoda grounds had been cleaned up and the whole area looked as if it had been revamped for the tourist trade. We actually had visited this place two years previously. A lot of positive changes had been made over the course of those two years. BRAVO!

It took another two hours to get to Datong and find us a hotel. The hotel we found was inexpensive and fairly nice. We did, however, have a hard time finding a place to eat as we were located fairly far from downtown Datong. I was amazed at how friendly the people were who walked by us. Everyone we saw seemed to greet us with a smile. This was not what I had expected from reading the guide sites on the internet. I had a good feeling about this town. Too bad we would only get to stay here overnight.

Posted by inchinahil 03:54 Archived in China Tagged shopping china shaanxi_province tourist_site buddhist_mountain mount_wutai

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