Sacred steps in China

Someone once said “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

While the sentiment is admirable, you’ll notice in China that it’s no longer entirely accurate, thanks to the introduction of cable cars. Yes, even the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains can be reached the quick way, but as Lucy Hordern discovered, if you take the traditional route you definitely won’t regret it…

“Anyone who has experienced smog in a city in China will understand the urgency with which one needs fresh air! Emeishan is a World Heritage-listed sacred Buddhist mountain near Chengdu, in Sichuan Province. It takes 3 days to make this pilgrimage and the altitude makes the going tough and the cobblestone steps are steep. BUT it is worth every step!

When I am tired and feeling down at home I relive this trip and am uplifted and revitalised instantly. What does it for me is remembering the covered bridges, the worn path winding through bamboo groves and then coming across a 16th century monastery out of the mist. It sounds like fariyland and it felt like it too.

There were pavilions overlooking waterfalls, tea houses clinging to cliff faces and pilgrims being jogged along in sedan chairs. The mountain was the site for the Bodhisattva Samantabadhra to land his flying elelphant and there is a stunning temple devoted to them both. Samantabadhra had magical powers and that is why pilgrims make the effort to visit the pool where he and his elephant took a break from flying!

So it really is a magical place with romantic temples, like Crouching Tiger Temple, dotted along the way where you can stay. Many meditating monks lived there in the past. I could imagine them practicing tai chi and writing sacred poetry, inspired by the surrounding quiet and beauty – as was I.”

Photo by Kevin Trew – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Hey, just read your article and realized that’s my picture from 6 years ago!!!

Seems like a long time ago but Intrepid have made sure I’ll always remember China fondly.. especially meeting a 109 year old monk..

And your article is spot on, EmeiShan in Sichuan is the closest to heaven on earth

Hey Kevin,
Thanks so much for your comment. We have just updated this article in our new blog format, so we’re excited that now your great photo looks even better. What an experience it must have been to meet that lovely old monk in the picture. Here’s hoping he’s made it to 115 years young by now!
Happy adventures,
Sue, Intrepid Express Editor

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