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.”
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* photo by Kevin Trew – Intrepid Photography Competition