Dailuo Ding, Wutaishan, Shanxi
(August 26, 2012)

(1) I had two choices for reaching Dailuo Ding: climb the mountain, or pay 50rmb (about $7US) for the cable car. Guess which I chose? As the cable car rose, I spotted this temple, which I would be accidentally visiting later.

In a misguided attempt to be clever, I had decided to stay in my room until the afternoon before going out. This being Sunday, I figured most of the tourists would be gone. WRONG. Many were still here. And in addition, about a half-hour after I went out, a massive rainstorm hit. Fortunately I was in a restaurant and waited it out. I never so much as got my shoes wet!

(2) This was more like a ski lift--a little scary for a fat man. The plus: almost everyone who passed me going the other way "hello'd" me. I had some fun, even posing for a couple of on-the-fly pictures!

(3) Once again on terra firma, I shot this view looking back to the valley below.

(4) Here's a view of the "White Pagoda," Wutai Shan's most famous landmark. I'll be at its base tomorrow.

(5) There were plenty of vendors on the approach to the temple, with their wares lined up on the wall along the walkway. This small statue kinda freaked me out.

(6) The gateway in front of the temple...

(7) ...and the Heavenly Kings' Hall behind the gateway.

(8) The first courtyard has this pretty little six-sided pavilion. I'm a sucker for these.

(9) The front of the pavilion, closer up.

(10) Over in the doorway of the drum tower, I saw a monk pulling the kernels off of this corn cob. When he left, I shot it, figuring I could say "he was feeding the birds."

(11) Then out came this little guy! I immediately gave this temple high marks for "Has compassion for all sentient beings."

(12) The next hall has "Manjushri of the Five Directions." (Chinese culture considers the Center a direction, too; hence five, not four.) Wutai is the mountain dedicated to Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Each of the five statues inside is unique.

(13) And the next hall is the Buddha Hall. I had a very interesting encounter there.

(14) In this view of the front of the hall, you can just make out a monk in the bottom right corner. Behind him (out of frame) is a sign which says, in part, that the hall features "Buddha of Past and Buddha of Future." Yet the statues were clearly Amitabha and the Medicine Buddha, not Dipamkara and Maitreya. In talking about it, we had a great time, and he asked me to write down the English for a bunch of Buddhist terms.

So I went off and did my prayers, and when I finished, he was standing next to me. He had arranged for me to meet Chang Shan, the abbot. The abbot and I had tea, and he gave me some beads; as honored as I was, I always find these encounters awkward because of my poor Chinese (he of course spoke no English). Anyway, it was a very cool and peculiar way to finish an odd sort of day on the pilgrimage trail.

(15) I chose to descend via the horse trail. It was faster, and had no stairs; although my choice did cause me to miss some of the sights, I also missed some of the crowds. Just below the cable car station was this very Tibetan tayuan (cemetery).

(16) The trail. The mud from the rains has been churned by hooves, and it has been "enhanced" by the horses; fortunately, there was usually a smaller, more solid alternative, as seen here on the right.

(17) The trail reached this hanging bridge; when I crossed it, I "accidentally" entered Jinjie Si--which I had seen earlier--from the top.

(18) Do not adjust your set! Around the temple is this green rock, which I had read about earlier.

(19) In front of the uppermost hall are these three stupas. The hall itself was closed; most of the temple is unfinished.

(20) This little hall down the hill is essentially finished, but barely.

(21) Inside are these horrid gold statues...

(22) ...and these beautiful clay ones. They looked quite old. I would be happy to own one, even if it were "manufactured old."

(23) A close up of one of the clay statues

(24) The woodwork in the ceiling was stunning, and had not been painted yet.

(25) As I left that hall, I saw this view of people riding horses down, with the cable car just visible in the upper right.

(26) A look back at the unfinished temple gate and its unfinished stairs, flanked by the unfinished drum tower and the unfinished bell tower. (It's unfinished.)

(27) Another sentient being near the horse camp at the base of the road; he's destined to a life of carrying tourists up and down the mountain. I guess it could be worse.

+ + + + + + + +

A quick bus home, a dinner of leftovers from my rainy lunch, and almost time for bed.

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Last Updated August 21, 2019

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