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Introducing Éméi Shān

A cool, misty retreat from the Sìchuān basin’s sweltering heat, stunning Éméi Shān is one of China’s four most famous Buddhist mountains (the others are Pǔtuóshān, Wǔtái Shān and Jiǔhuá Shān). Here you’ll find fabulous forested mountain scenery, ramshackle wooden temples and macaques demanding tribute for safe passage. There’s also the wonderful opportunity to spend the night in one of the many monasteries that dot the mountain range.

Only a few remnants of Éméi Shān’s original templework remain. Glittering Jīndǐng Temple (Jīndǐng Sì), for example, with its brass tiling engraved with Tibetan script, was completely gutted by fire. Other temples suffered the same fate, and all were looted to various degrees during the war with Japan and the Cultural Revolution. Some do still go back a few years, though, with Wànnián Temple, the oldest, clocking in at a very respectable 1100 years old.

The waves of pilgrims, hawkers and, most of all, tourists during peak season eliminate much solitude, but the crowds hover largely around the areas closest to the cable cars and the major temples. Away from them, the pathways, lined with fir, pine and cedar trees, make for peaceful hiking. Lofty crags, cloud-kissing precipices, butterflies and azaleas together form a nature reserve, and the mountain joins Lèshān, Jiǔzhàigōu and Dūjiāngyàn Irrigation Project on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites in Sìchuān.