Jiuhua Shan

Top choice mountain

in Anhui

The Tang-dynasty Buddhists who determined Jiuhua Shan to be the earthly abode of the Bodhisattva Dizang (Ksitigarbha), Lord of the Underworld, chose well. Often shrouded in a fog that pours in through the windows of its cliff-side temples, Jiuhua Shan possesses a powerful gravitas, heightened by the devotion of those who come here to pray for the souls of the departed.

One of China's four most sacred Buddhist peaks, there are dozens of active temples here, housing a population of some 500-plus monks and nuns. The mountain is not untouched by commercialism, however; the hawkers of overpriced joss sticks and jade carvings come together with the ochre-coloured monasteries, flickering candles and low, steady drone of Buddhist chanting emanating from pilgrims’ smartphones to create an atmosphere that is both of this world and of another entirely.