Hundreds of renowned mountains and rivers lie in the vast expanses of China, among which four mountains are considered as the most sacred ones and attract countless pilgrims every year. They are: Mount Wutai, Putuo, Emei and Jiuhua.
Mount Wutai is located in northeastern Shanxi province, China. Being home of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri, it was the first of the four mountains to be identified and is often referred to as “first among the four great mountains.” Some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618–907) stand in the mountain. This includes the main hall of Nanchan Temple and the East Hall of Foguang Temple, built in 782 and 857, respectively.
Mount Putuo, an island southeast of Shanghai, is in Zhoushan prefecture of Zhejiang province, China. It is considered the bodhimanda of Avalokitesvara (Guanyin). Lying on Eastern Sea of China, the island displays the beauty between sea and mountain. Mount Putuo has been a pilgrimage site for over a thousand years. During the Tang dynasty, along with the development of sea silk road, Putuo Mountain became the center of Chinese Buddhism for Guanyin. In addition to more than 30 monasteries, there is the Institute of Buddhism, one of the largest Buddhist academic institutes in China.
Mount Emei is a mountain in Sichuan province. This is the location of the first Buddhist temple built in China in the 1st century. It is traditionally regarded as the bodhimaṇḍa, or place of enlightenment, of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra. Great spectacles there include the sunrise and Clouds Sea seen from the Golden Summit of the mountain.
Jiuhua Mountain is located in Qingyang County in Anhui province and is famous for its rich landscape and ancient temples. Many of the mountain’s shrines and temples are dedicated to Ksitigarbha, who is a bodhisattva and protector of beings in hell realms according to Mahayana Buddhist tradition. During the golden periods of the Ming and Qing dynasties, there were as many as 360 temples and 4,000 to 5,000 monks and nuns. The mountain is not only famous for its Buddhist culture but also noted for its natural landscapes featuring old pines, green bamboo forests, strange rocks, waterfalls, streams and caves.