Jiǔhuá Shān

Mountain in Ānhuī

The Tang-dynasty Buddhists who determined Jiǔhuá Mountain (九华山; Jiǔhuá Shān; Nine Lotus Mountain) 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, Jiǔhuá Mountain, has a powerful gravitas, heightened by the devotion of those who come here to pray for the souls of the departed.

It is among the four most sacred peaks in China and 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 over-priced joss sticks and jade carvings come together with the ochre-coloured monasteries, flickering candles and low, steady drone of Buddhist chanting emanating from pilgrims’ MP3 players to create an atmosphere that is both of this world and of another entirely.