Mount Emei: A Breathtaking Buddhist Mountain and Geological Wonder

“Emei Mountain’s moon hangs round in autumn, casting shadows across Pingqiang River’s flow.”​ “Shu boasts numerous enchanting mountains, yet ascending Emei is particularly challenging.”

Mount Emei

Emei Mountain, a sub-range of the Qionglai Mountains, is situated on the southwestern edge of the Sichuan Basin in China. It is located near the enigmatic 30 ° north latitude. Extending 23 kilometres in a north-south direction, the mountain covers an area of approximately 110 square kilometres. Mount Emei, is positioned in Leshan City, Sichuan Province, and its highest peak, Ten Thousand Buddhas, reaches an elevation of 3099 meters above sea level. It is one of the four renowned Buddhist mountains in China.

Emei Mountain has many peaks, including Da Eshan, Er Eshan, San Eshan, Si Eshan, and 72 others. The highest peak is 3099 meters above sea level. It is known for its natural beauty, Buddhist culture, flora and fauna, and unique geology. Emei is also called the “Fairy Mountain Buddhist Kingdom,” “Plant Kingdom,” “Animal Paradise,” and “Geological Museum.” It is a fault-block mountain with a flat appearance and cliffs on all sides.

Emei Mountain’s main geological formation is a short anticline running north to south. The landforms can be categorized as erosional or accumulative based on their shaping process. They can also be classified as structural, flowing water, karst, or glacial. The area has a subtropical monsoon climate with more clouds, less sunshine, and abundant rainfall. In January, the average temperature is 6.9 degrees, while in July, it rises to 26.1 degrees. From the top of Mount Emei, one can admire the sunset reflecting on distant mountains, creating a beautiful illusion of rolling clouds. If lucky, Gongga Snow Mountain may be seen in the distance.

Mount Emei, known for its stunning sea of clouds, is a popular destination for Buddhists. The climate changes with altitude, with the lower regions experiencing mild temperatures and abundant vegetation. As you ascend, the temperature drops significantly. Mount Emei is also a cultural hub, with influences from Buddhism, Taoism, martial arts, and literature. Recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO, it is protected as a National Key Cultural Relic and is designated as a National Scenic Area.

1 Dae-san

Mount Eshan is the highest point of Mount Emei, standing at an elevation of 3099 meters. The mountain peaks have an undulating terrain, with thick layers of green rock stacked on top. Spanning thousands of meters from the foothills to the summit, there is a stone path that appears to float, stretching straight into the sky. At Jinding, there are extensive areas covered in weather-resistant basalt, while on the eastern side of Jinding, Paleozoic carbonate rocks can be found. Water dissolution along anticlinal fissures has formed steep cliffs, known as body cliffs, and deep streams that can reach heights of up to 800 meters.

2. Mount Er

Mount Eshan, also called Pengshan and Suishan, is made of granite and dolomite. The primary peak, standing at 1909 meters high, resembles a kettle. The area is rich with willow trees, bamboo, and forest farms, as well as various other trees. It is a habitat for native tea, bamboo shoots, tung oil, raw lacquer, and Chinese medicinal resources. On the west foot of the mountain lies the Taoist site called Pig Liver Cave. In the south, you can find the Purple Kidney Cave, believed to be Tang Lu Chunyang’s training ground.

3. Saneyama

Three Asan, also known as Hua Edge Mountain, is situated in the southwest of Leshan Shawan Town. It spans a length of 13 km and is 7 km wide, with the main peak reaching an elevation of 2027.1 meters above sea level, towering 1625 meters higher than Shawan Town River. The summit is adorned with basalt and the eastern slope is remarkably steep. Various minerals such as copper and aluminium can be found in this area.

4. Shiayama

Eshan is 20 miles north of Mount Da Emei in Sichuan Province, with the urban area of Emei Mountain situated five kilometres further north. The mountain, also known as Huashan or Wuyang Longwei Mountain, resembles a flower and has an elevation of 982 meters above sea level. It is famous for its “Shuijing note” nickname. At the summit, there are Yuantong Temple and the ancient Kuan Yin, which were established by a Ming Dynasty monk. This location is renowned for its Zen reverence.

Wanfo Peak

The Ten Thousand Buddha Summit is a scenic conservation area in China, boasting the highest elevation among the four famous Buddhist mountains. Rising 3099 meters above sea level, this summit is crowned by the Manjusri Nunnery, also known as Qingliang Nunnery or Elysium Hall. Originally constructed during the Zhengde years of the Ming Dynasty, it underwent reconstruction during the eleventh year of the Qing Guangxu period. The restoration included the repair of the Tripitaka floor and the acquisition of thousands of books. The peak of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Thousand Buddhas, and Jinding are arranged in ascending order, resembling Qinshou when viewed from the foot of the mountain. It is believed that the name “Qinshou Emei” originated from this formation.

Jinding Golden Buddha

Mount Emei’s Golden Top, located at an elevation of 3,079 meters, is not only the most stunning architectural marvel globally but also the largest Golden Hall in China. The Hall is meticulously adorned with gilt, including rare gold frescoes. These remarkable frescoes required the dedication of hundreds of craftsmen over two years. In Jinding, you can witness the four wonders of Mount Emei: sunrise, a sea of clouds, Buddha’s light, and the holy lamp. The Golden Buddha is a bronze-cast, gold-plated statue standing 48 meters tall and weighing 660 tons. It consists of a pedestal and ten Samantabhadra statues. The pedestal, measuring 6 meters in height and 27 meters in both length and width, bears the inscriptions of ten of Samantabhadra’s wishes. Its exterior is adorned with granite reliefs. The ten Samantabhadra statues, towering at 42 meters and weighing 350 tons, represent the forty-eight vows from the Buddhist sutras, symbolizing Amitabha Buddha’s salvation of all sentient beings.


Xixiangchi, one of the eight temples on Mount Emei, is situated on the Zhuantian slope at an elevation of 2070 meters. Originally known as “Chuxi Pavilion” during the Ming Dynasty, it was later converted into a nunnery called Chuxi Nunnery. In AD 1699, it was transformed into a temple by Xingneng Zen Master (Hongchuan Old Man). In the early years of AD 1736, during the Qianlong era, the monk renovated the Tiangpo road and the Luohan slope road and transformed the small pool in front of the temple into a hexagonal shape. Additionally, a stone elephant was placed beside the pool to symbolize the washing of elephants by the Puxian Bodhisattva. According to legend, a white elephant once bathed in the pool while being ridden by Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. As a result, the temple was renamed Xixiangchi, also known as the Smallpox Zen Temple.

Senbo-ji Temple

Xianfeng Temple, one of the eight temples on Mount Emei, is situated beneath the Xianfeng Rock at an elevation of 1725 meters. Formerly known as Ciyan Temple, it is characterized by its YinHuaYanding entrance. This temple was established in 1281 AD during the 18th year of the Yuan Dynasty. Originally a small nunnery, it was later expanded during the Ming Dynasty to house Tibetan scriptures presented by Mingshen Zong. It was further expanded in the Wanli era (1612 AD) by Benjiong Zen Master and came to be known as the “Xianfeng Zen Forest”. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire in 1643 AD during the 16th year of Ming Chongframe. However, in 1779 AD, during the 44th year of Qing Qianlong, the Taian and Yusheng monks rebuilt it and it has retained the name “Xianfeng Temple” ever since.

Ninety-nine turns.

The treacherous slope of Emei Mountain originates at Lingxiao Pavilion and terminates at Shouxing Bridge. Along the way, you encounter a succession of turns and slopes. At the end of each slope, there is a sudden peak, followed by another slope. When Samantabhadra arrived at Emei Mountain to construct the Ashram, he observed the steep and slippery terrain. Concerned about safety, he instructed Lingzu Bodhisattva to lead 3,000 men in the simultaneous construction of steps. This resulted in the creation of 3,000 stone steps, with each individual assigned to repair one step. The stone steps incorporate ninety-nine turns, hence the name of the slope.

Manne-ji Temple

Wannian Temple is located on Emei Mountain, approximately 15 kilometres below Lion Ridge, near Baoguo Temple. It was initially built in the Eastern Jin Dynasty and is known as Samantabhadra Temple. Later, Tang Xi Zong Hui Tong Chan Master reconstructed it and gave it the name Baishui Temple. In the Song Dynasty, it was once again renamed White Water Temple. In the 29th year of the Ming Dynasty (AD 1601), Emperor Shenzong celebrated the 70th birthday of the Empress Dowager at the Holy Life Temple. A renowned “wish building” housing the three treasures of the Wannian Temple, Buddha’s teeth, Beiye Sutra, and Royal Printing, stands behind the beamless brick hall.

Qingyin Pavilion

Qingyin Pavilion, also known as Wo Yun Temple, is one of the eight temples on Mount Emei. It was constructed by Hui Tong Zen Master during the reign of Emperor Xi Zong of the Tang Dynasty. It houses the statues of Sakyamuni, Manjusri, and Samantabhadra. Founded in 877 during Tang Xizong’s reign, Guangji monks in the early Ming Dynasty renamed it Qingyin Pavilion, pondering the significance of “why silk and bamboo, the landscape has a clear sound.” It is situated on the ridge between the Heilongjiang and the Bailong Rivers, offering a precarious location. Behind the Pavilion, there is a dense forest.

Chunyang Hall

Chunyang Temple, formerly Lu Xianxing Cave, is located beneath Chicheng Peak and was established during the Ming Wanli period. The temple was reconstructed during the Qianlong and Jiaqing years of the Qing Dynasty. It consists of two halls: the first hall is dedicated to the pharmacist Buddha, while the left and right halls are adorned with bronze decorations and gold, representing the sun and moonlight Bodhisattvas as valuable Qing Dynasty cultural relics. The second hall houses the Sakyamuni Buddha, with eighteen Luohan on both sides. Additionally, there are two niches on each side for Puxian, Gezang, Guanyin, Manshu, and a Wei pack. Behind the temple, amidst the desolate grass, stand two well-preserved stone tablets that vividly depict the coexistence of Buddhism and Taoism in Mount Emei, as well as the eventual disappearance of Buddha and Fachang long and feather scholars.

Ryon-ji Temple

Lei Yin Temple, also known as the relief nunnery, is situated beneath Yunu Peak. Originally established during the Ming Dynasty, specifically the Jiajing and Longqing years (1522-1572 AD), it consisted of Guanyin Hall and was positioned at an elevation of 733 meters. In the Wanli period of the Ming Dynasty (around 1573 AD), it became the residence of the esteemed Zen master. According to legend, this master had exceptional abilities and achieved widespread fame. In the early Qing Dynasty, the temple underwent reconstruction under the reign of Guang Xu and was renamed Lei Yin to reflect its aspirations.

Hokuo Temple

Baoguo Temple is situated at the base of Mount Emei, at an elevation of 551 meters. It serves as the inaugural temple of Mount Emei, housing the Mount Emei Buddhist Association and serving as the hub for Buddhist activities. The mountain gate features a prominent plaque bearing the title “Baoguo Temple”, bestowed by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty and inscribed by Yufan. Inside the main hall, a solemn plaque displaying “Baoxiang” is hung. The gate’s columns are adorned with a pair of couplets, one reading “Phoenix spreads wings towards golden queue”, and the other proclaiming the frequent ringing of the bell on the jade steps. The horizontal plaques read “Puzhao Zen Forest” and “Illuminate the world with light”. Lastly, a joint inscription on the gate reads “Contemplate alone and recite sutras”.

Fusho-ji Temple

Fusho-ji Temple, one of the eight major temples on Emei Mountain, was established in the Tang Dynasty. During the Shaoxing period of the Southern Song Dynasty, it was rebuilt for 20 years in the Shunzhi period of the Qing Dynasty. It became one of the largest temples in the mountain. The temple gate leads to the Temple of Maitreya, housing a golden statue of Maitreya and divided on either side by statues of the four kings of heaven. Behind the Temple of Maitreya is the Temple of Weitou, featuring an image of Wei. Inside the temple, there is the Huayan Tower Pavilion, a copper Huayan tower from the Ming Dynasty. It stands at a height of 5.8m and has 14 storeys. The tower is adorned with over 4700 small Buddha statues and engraved with the text of the Huayan Sutra.

Thousand Buddhas

The mountain gate of the Thousand Buddha Zen Academy faces east, and the ten halls have eleven patios organized from east to west. The pharmacist hall of the Daguang Ming Building is situated opposite the south road of Foguang in the city. It serves as the entrance to the Thousand Buddha Zen House, a Ming and Qing-style city building which acts as the north entrance of the Zen House. Chanyuan occupies an area larger than 400 acres and serves as the primary gateway to worship Mount Emei, one of the largest jungles in Asia. Qian Fo Chan Yuan spans from west to east and is divided into three major functional areas: the north is the Buddhist worship area; the middle is the Buddhist garden culture sharing area; and the south is the Buddhist college education area, housing the Sichuan Buddhist Institute.

Leshan Emei Cuisine

Jellied bean curd, Braised beef, Leshan bowl chicken, roasted squid, Niu Hua Malatang, Su Ji rice flower candy, Macun Fish Head, Leshan Sweet Skin Duck, Cool cake, and ice powder.

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