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Mountain Putuo

An Introduction to Mountain Putuo

Mountain Putuo located in the east of Zhoushan City. Zhoushan City is situated on Zhoushan Island that in turn gives its name to a group of some four hundred small islands off the east coast of China in Zhejiang Province. These islands are in fact the peaks of submerged mountains and so rise steeply from the sea. Mountain Putuo dominates the small rhomboidal land mass with its total area of about 12.5 square kilometers.

The Mountain was originally called Mountain Meicun for a man named Meifu in the Han Dynasty had once lived here. It got the sacred spirit after a Japanese monk who came to China to seek for help. The monk planned to carry a Guanyin sculpture obtained from Mountain Wutai back to Japan. But unfortunately he was stopped by a storm at this area. He believed that the Guanyin was reluctant to live, so he landed and built the "Unwilling to Leave Nunnery" to host the sculpture. Since ever, the mountain has been heavily visited by pilgrims.

It is one of China's four sacred Buddhist mountains, particularly oriented toward the Buddhist deity Guanyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion. Legend has it that Guanyin once showed her bodily presence here and left a number of historical sites. The temples and shrines on the island are full of colorful sculptures depicting the deity in her various forms, from the common-seen South Sea Guanyin at her welcoming perch overlooking the sea, to various depictions of the Thousand-Hand Guanyin, whose tangle of limbs represents her ability to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.

Today, a giant statue of Guanyin looks out to the sea at the southernmost tip of the island. Built in 1997, the 33-metre statue is made of bronze and gold. It depicts Guanyin holding a ship wheel, signifying her watching over sea farers and fishermen. Guanyin literally means “observing the sounds” in Chinese, she is one of the most revered figures in Chinese Buddhism, known for her compassion as well as her supposed powers to grant male children.

Besides the must-see Guanyin statue, the three biggest temples on the island are Puji Temple, Fayu Temple, and Huiji Temple. Puji Temple, a main area of worship, houses a nine-metre tall bronze statue of Guanyin. Charming cobblestone streets lead to Haiyin Pool right in front of the temple. This is where the faithful set turtles free as a gesture to gain merit.

Mountain Putuo is known as "Buddhist country amidst sea and sky". It is also referred to as 'Oceanside paradise and Buddhist realm' and as 'The first sacred place in the world'. The island is green, tranquil and almost traffic-free. Putuo is not only the national center of Guanyin pilgrimage, but also the international pilgrimage center of Guanyin of the South Sea.

There offers many other attractions, from the carved stone murals surrounding the Nanhai Guanyin to various caves, grottoes and temples. As for those beaches, two of the more famous ones are One Hundred Step Beach and One Thousand Step Beach. Both are lovely, but they can be very crowded during the peak season.

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