We finish up our Holy Mountain tour with Mount Putuo
29.03.2011 - 30.03.2011 72 °F
The bus to Ningbo left at 0700 so we got up at 0500, checked out of the small hotel and went to where we were supposed to catch the bus. No bus station just a small restaurant where we bought our 150 Yuan tickets. We had a quick breakfast and boarded the ten-minute- late bus to Ningbo. It took us seven hours to finally get to Ningbo. The bus was not crowded and was comfortable.
On the bus, we met a monk traveling from Mount Jiuhua back to his monastery in Ningbo. He was personable and gave us a lot of information about Mount Putuo, our destination. He also told us about a very old temple called Baoguo Temple. Seems all major cities had a temple with that name. He invited us to go with him to visit the temple in his car. I had not done much research on Ningbo which I knew was once considered to be the financial center of the region but had been surpassed by Shanghai.
We arrived to the bus station (a very big one) and got a taxi with our friendly monk to his car. He then drove us to the temple which took over an hour from the bus station. And what a temple it was! It was the oldest temple in the region but was no longer a Buddhist place of worship but a museum. Check out the pictures from our visit.
Baoguo Temple is located on the mountainside of Lingshan Mountain, about 10 miles away from downtown Ningbo City. It is what the Chinese call a cultural relic. It was initially established in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and rebuilt and expanded in later dynasties. The present Baoguo Temple is a mixture of constructions made by various dynasties.
The Grand Hall is the main construction of the temple. Built in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), it is one of the oldest and the best-preserved example of wooden architecture south of the Yangtze River.
What was interesting about this Grand Hall was the fact that it was a thousand years old and collected no dust inside nor were there ever any insects to be found. The guide who went with us (the temple was actually closed but was opened just for our visit) told us that the wind blows through the hall in such a way that all dust and insects are carried out on a regular basis. The temple reminded me a lot of the wooden temple that housed the largest reclining Buddha in Gansu Province. The joints and trusses look the same. The wood was beautiful and well preserved. Well worth the visit.
Here is the picture of our friendly monk and the guide posing with Sunee at the front of the Main Hall
The complex was obviously set up as a museum with the grounds well-kept and information signs placed on the various items.
The column shown was the oldest part of the temple and dated back to the Tang Dynasty (618-97) or a couple of hundred before the current temple. Buddhism first came to China in 64 AD.
Inside the temple, along the central axis are located the Mahavira Hall (the Grand Hall), the Kwanyin Hall, the Devaraja Hall and the Scripture Repository. Around the Grand Hall are scattered the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower and the Guest House.
Half way up the hill to the main temple is a natural spring called Linlong Spring which formed Hansu Pool. It was very nice and the water was cold.
We finished our tour and invited the monk to join us for dinner when we found a Hanting Hotel in downtown Ningbo. He had just the place for us to have dinner - the most famous vegetarian restaurant in the city.
We enjoyed a fabulous vegetarian meal with our friend. The vegetarian food was as good as anywhere we had eaten in China and the world. It was not cheap but well worth the effort. We got the name and address of the monk and promised to keep in touch.
We checked into our hotel and made reservation for a tour to Mount Putuo the next day via the hotel. No problems getting to sleep this evening.
Our tour began at 0620 this morning with a van coming to pick us up. The first time around the van came while we were in the elevator coming down. The front desk called our room and got no response so the jerk in the van immediately left. We had the front desk call the tour service for the van to return. Jerk is the kindest word I would use for the driver. We did finally get to our bus which was filled with Chinese tourist planning to spend the night on the island.
The bus took us to the port which was about two hours away. We then got on a medium sized passenger boat which took us to the island.
Medium size boats like this carried passengers to and from the island on a regular basis. I counted four going and coming just in the few minutes we were waiting to board the boat.
Welcome to Mount Putuo, a highly successful commercial venture featuring Guan Yin as the main attraction. Emphasis should be placed on commercial as we paid a lot of money to come to the island with this tour. Everything is set up for tours and I doubt if many independent travelers can conveniently come here. I would not even try.
One must always start a new adventure with Good Luck.
The tour begins with the few of us on the day trip gathering around the welcome area just down the road from the entrance to the temple area.
We love Chinese courtyards so I take pictures whenever we come across one.
The Official Entrance to Putuoshan. The following represents what we saw in order. Commercial is the key word here.
The main Buddha for the island is Guan Yin and this statue seems to be the center point for tours. It looked to be new and was obviously set up for toursists. Nice, new and commercial. I took a few obligation photos as you can see.
This place was crowded tourists! We walked for several kilometers on a beautiful day.
After the tour up the side of mountain to see the giant Guan Yin, we came back down to the beach area to have lunch. A typical Chinese tour lunch with bland food and lots of rice. Eat quick and meet the tour group over by the door.
After lunch we followed our tour group to some ancient buildings that had be preserved nicely. This, to me, was much more interesting than the commercial stuff we had been visiting. It was obvious that these building were built several hundred years ago. In fact, this was the center for Buddhism in China during the Tang Dynasty.
Since a couple of bats visited our apartment at Mount Emei, we have seen lots and lots of stylized Chinese bats. Bats are good luck for Chinese. Here is but one example.
Once again, the operative word for these ancient temples and buildings was Commercial. We saw lots of monks and nuns so this place really is an active center for Buddhism but . . . the crowds, the crowds!
Finished with the temples it was time to climb another mountain. This would take us between two and three hours and we lost our tour crowd very early on so we enjoyed taking our "senior citizen" time. I took lots of pictures with the following providing a good sampling.
Finally we came to the end of the well-worn path that let down out of the mountain. This path was easy and well maintained - very commercially viable to make sure all the tourists could walk at leisure among the temples. It led back down to where the boat was waiting for us to climb aboard and return us to Ningbo.
On the way back to Ningbo, our tour bus stopped at a huge shopping area that specialized in local products. I talked Sunee into buying some Focha or Buddha Tea which had been processed on the island for a few hundred years. It is a green tea and it was extremely expensive.
We finish our final Buddha Mountain visit with a relaxing evening in our hotel room - sleeping and preparing for our morning trip to Hangzhou. We were tired from the excitement of visiting Putuoshan and the climbing of its many mountains.