Jiǔhuá Mountain Summit
Jiǔhuá Mountain Summit information
The real highlight is walking up the mountain alongside the pilgrims, following a trail (天台正顶) that passes waterfalls, streams and countless nunneries, temples and shrines. Jiǔhuá Mountain summit is on a mountain range behind the village. The hike up takes a leisurely four hours; count on about two to three hours to get back down to the village.
You can begin just after the village’s main entrance, where a 30-minute hike up the ridge behind Zhīyuán Temple leads you to Bǎisuì Gōng , an active temple built into the cliff in 1630 to consecrate the Buddhist monk Wu Xia, whose shrunken, embalmed body is coated in gold and sits shrivelled within an ornate glass cabinet in front of a row of pink lotus candles. If you don’t feel like hiking, take the funicular to the ridge.
From the top, walk south along the ridge past the Dōngyá Temple (东崖禅寺, Dōngyá Chánsì) to the Huíxiāng Pavilion (回香阁, Huíxiāng Gé), above which towers the seven-storey 10,000 Buddha Pagoda , fashioned entirely from bronze and prettily lit at night. A western path leads to town, while the eastern one dips into a pleasant valley and continues past the Phoenix Pine (凤凰松, Fènghuáng Sōng) and the cable car station (one-way/return ¥75/140) to Tiāntái Peak (天台正顶, Tiāntái Zhèng Dǐng; 1304m). The two-hour walk to the summit is tough going, passing small temples and nunneries. The cable-car ride takes 15 minutes each way. Note that there’s still a 1km walk up flights of stairs even if you take the cable car!
The summit is slightly damp, with mist shrouding the area. Within the faded Tiāntái Temple (天台寺, Tiāntái Sì) on Tiāntái Peak, a statue of the Dizang Buddha is seated within the Dìzàng Hall (地藏殿, Dìzàng Diàn), while from the magnificent 10,000 Buddha Hall (万佛楼, Wànfó Lóu) above, a huge enthroned statue of the Dizang Buddha gazes at the breathless masses mustering at his feet. The beams above your head glitter with rows of thousands of Buddhas.
There’s another trail to your right before the main stairs to the Tiāntái Temple. This one leads you to one of the highest and quietest points of the mountain, Shíwáng Peak (十王峰, Shíwáng Fēng; 1344m), where you can stop and let the rolling fog sweep past you.
An easier route is to take a bus (return trip included with the ¥50 bus ticket) from Jiǔhuájiē village up to the Phoenix Pine area to take the cable car. You can also walk to the summit in two hours from here. The bus option doesn’t pass Bǎisuì Gōng.