Four Buddhist Holy Mountains in China

Temple enshrining ceremony at sacred Wutai Mountain

China Photos/Getty Images

While many of China’s mountains have become revered over history, four, in particular, are believed especially sacred. Mountains are where heaven and earth touch and in this vein, Chinese believe that bodhisattvas, or Buddhist disciples who have reached nirvana but come back to earth to help mortals on their own paths to enlightenment, dwell in four sacred mountains.

Revival of the Buddhist Sites

Over the centuries, Buddhist monasteries have built large complexes in the mountains and pilgrims from all over China visit these sacred peaks. While most were ravaged during the cultural revolution, a revival in Buddhist traditions and tourist dollars have helped to begin restorations and renovations in many of the mountainside temples.

Why Go?

These mountains represent the most sacred in Chinese Buddhist beliefs. They are wonderful places to visit not only to hike and experience Chinese nature, such that it is, but also to experience the renaissance of Chinese Buddhism.

What to Expect While Hiking

China’s sacred mountains have been pilgrimage sites for hundreds of years. You won’t find secluded mountain trails but rather stone steps carved out of the mountainside – or recently renovated concrete-poured steps. While relatively unknown as destinations in the West, these sites are places of worship for devout Buddhists from all over the world as well as recreation for young Chinese hikers. Therefore, you probably won’t be alone on the mountainside.

The Four Holy Mountains

  • Wu Tai Shan (north)
  • Jiu Hua Shan (south)
  • Pu Tuo Shan (east)
  • Emei Shan (west)


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