Located in Bingchuan County, the Jizu Mountain is the 5th most famous Buddhist mountains in China, with the reputation of “Holy mountain and Buddhist town”.
宾川鸡足山 The Jizu Mountain in Bingchuan County, Dali, Yunnan
It is said that Mahakasyapa, a senior disciple of Sakyamuni passed away here. The Jizu Mountain has Mt.Cangshan and the Erhai Lake in front and the Jinshajiang River behind. Hillocks, ridges, gullies, forests, and valleys constitute the grand, elegant, quiet, and specific natural sceneries. The elevation of Tianzhu Peak, the highest peak of the Jizu Mountain, is 3240 meters.
There are 4 scenes on the top: viewing the sunrise in the east, auspicious clouds in the south, Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake in the west, and Yulong Snow Mountain in the north. In addition, on the mountain there are other 8 scenes: “Halo of the Buddha”, “Thunder on a Fine Day”, “Mist Circling Over Erhai Lake”, “Old Snow on the Cangshan Mountain”, “Soughing of the Wind in the Pines in the Raviness”, “Splashing Waterfalls Piercing the Clouds”, “Cliffs in the Sunset”, and “Buddhist Temples and Pagodas in the Autumn Moon”, being chanted by poets and writers in the dynasties of past ages. Jizu Mountain enjoys a great reputation among the pilgrims in southeast Asia.
Geographic location: 30 kilometers northwest of Binchuan County, 100 kilometers from Dali and 400 kilometers from Kunming
Scenic status: a 4A national tourist attraction; the fifth most renowned Buddhist Mountain in China
Tour time: 1～2 days
The spectacular sunrise can be viewed at Jinding temple. Accommodation is available at Zhusheng Temple and Jinding Temple; with an altitude higher than Dali, the temperature is lower than that in Dali city, therefore tourists should bring appropriate clothes to keep warm.
Recommended Tour Route:
“Meeting at Sacred Mountain” Archway → Zhusheng Temple → Shengfeng Temple→ Maitreya Temple → Huideng Nunnery → the Hall of Kasyapa→ Huashou Gate→ Jinding Temple)
Basic facts of the mountain, Buddhist temples, four fantastic views and eight marvelous spectacles, Xu xiake’s records, Pilgrimage Festival
Images of the Jizu Mountain
Jizu Mountain enjoys the reputation of being “the fifth most renowned Buddhist Mountain in China”, after Buddhist Mountains such as E’mei in Sichuan Province, Wutai in Shanxi Province, Jiuhua in Anhui Province, and Putuo in Zhejiang Province. One of the 44 famous scenic areas approved by State Council, Jizu Mountain, the main scenic resort in Dali, earns its everlasting fame in China and the Southeast Asian countries. In 2004, Jizu Mountain won the title of 4A national tourist attraction.
This mountain lies in Jizu Mountain Township, 30 kilometers away from Jinniu Township in Binchuan, 100 kilometers away from Dali, and 400 kilometers from Kunming. With its former names as Qingdian Mountain, Jiuqu Mountain, and Jiuchong cliff, Jizu Mountain got its name for the three peaks in its front and one at its back which just resembles the shape of a chicken’s claw. Connecting Dali city and Eryuan in the west and Heqing in the north, Jizu Mountain stretches over a length of 7 kilometers from east to west, 6 kilometers from south to north, with an area of 2,822 hectares. Tianzhu Peak, the main peak of the mountain, is 3,240 meters above sea level.
Jizu Mountain, recognized as a multifunctional scenic spot, is characterized by Buddhist culture and ecology, offering a set of activities to visitors on pilgrimage, Buddhist research, sightseeing, and scientific investigation.
Tradition has it that Jizu Mountain is the place where Kasyapa, a disciple of Sakyamuni, preached Buddhism and sat in meditation to attain enlightenment at Huashou Gate (a place on Jizu Mountain). The Buddhist temples on Jizu Mountain, first built in the Tang Dynasty, were expanded and renovated during the successive dynasties up till today. During the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, Jizu Mountain possessed altogether 42 temples, 65 nunneries, 170 monasteries, and over 5,000 monks and nuns. The entire Buddhist architectural complex was built on a large scale, leaving an impression of grandeur with ethnic and religious characteristics.
Passing by the “Meeting at Sacred Mountain” Archway, the entrance of the scenic resort, one can arrive at Zhusheng temple, the largest temple on Jizu Mountain, all the way by car, which is situated halfway of the mountain.
Jizu Mountain nurtured many eminent monks who made a great contribution to the diffusion of Buddhism and the construction of temples. Xuyun, a distinguished monk among them, completed the construction of Zhusheng Temple with the aid of the Queen mother Cixi during the reign of Emperor Guangxu. Zhusheng Temple (also known as Yingxiang Temple), is notable for its reputation as the cultural relics under provincial protection and one of the State-level Buddhist temples. Entering the gate, visitors are exposed to a semi-circle pond and an octagonal pavilion named “Zhenbao Pavilion”. The most significant hall in this temple is the Majestic Hall. Above the door of it, two plaques are hanging: the plaque inscribed by Sun Yat-sen with four characters “Yin Guang Yan Ran” (Kasyapa remains dignified) as well as the plaque inscribed by Liang Qichao with the characters “Ling Yue Chong Hui” (The holy mountain brightens up). In the middle of the hall stands the statue of Sakyamuni surrounded by the statues of 500 Arhats along the walls. Other Buddhist architectures in this temple include the Hall of Heavenly Kings, Bell Tower, together with monasteries and storehouses in which many Sanskrit scriptures, valuable cultural relics, calligraphy, and paintings by celebrities are kept. A couplet in Zhusheng temple reads, “Opportunity will escape if one doesn’t cherish”. Both dialectical and philosophical, this couplet fully illustrates the feeling when ascending Jizu Mountain.
A visit to Jizu Mountain won’t complete without ascending the heart of the whole scenic resort, Jinding Temple. It takes at least one hour to walk there. For more visitors, however, a ride on the horse and the cable are also available. Jinding, the summit of the mountain, got its name from the former golden temple which was moved from the Phoenix Singing Mountain in Kunming to Tianzhu Peak on Jizu Mountain. The peak has an elevation of 3,248 meters. The golden temple was destroyed during the period of “Cultural Revolution”. This one was rebuilt with the support of local government and the donation from all works of life. On June 14th, 2007, people all over the country came to observe the completion ceremony. What visitors can see today at Jinding temple is a rectangular yard, with Lengyan Pagoda and other halls arranged along the axis and surrounding monasteries.
The new golden temple stands ahead of Lengyan Pagoda. The pagoda, a hollow inside, square pagoda with dense eaves, is similar to Qianxun Pagoda of Chongsheng Monastery in Dali. Longyun, the ex-governor of Yunnan appropriated a large sum of money for constructing this pagoda so as to comply with the request of the monks and inscribed it with “Fa Xiang Zhuang Yan” (the solemnity of Buddhism) when visiting Jizu Mountain in 1929. The 13-story pagoda is 42 meters in height. Climbing up to the second floor, visitors can enjoy the panorama of the whole mountain and four fantastic views: the splendid sunrise in the east, the auspicious clouds in the south, the vast Erhai Lake in the west, and the magnificent Jade Dragon Sown Mountain (in Lijiang, a City 200 kilometers from Dali) in the north. With these, Jizu Mountain is also known as “Four Views Observing Mountain”.
Of the halls on Jizu Mountain, the hall of Kasyapa has been renovated on a large scale so far. The project was brought to completion in 1994, under the leadership of Kuanlin, the president of Manjusri Institute in Sichuan, and his elderly disciple Master Hongdao. In the hall with four-tiered roofs sits the sandalwood statue of Kasyapa, which is 3.3 meters in height and 1.6 tons in weight.
Jizu Mountain has a total of 40 grotesque hills, 30 precipitous peaks, 34 precipices, 45 deep and secluded caves as well as over 100 springs and ponds. Endowed with exotic flowers, rare herbs, and ancient trees, the mountain is overwhelmed in the dense forest and nurtures more than 500 species of higher plants within over 80 families and tens of species of rare animals. In a distance, Jizu Mountain looks majestic and imposing; while at a short distance, it remains deep and serene. All over the mountain scatter temples, monasteries, and nunneries, forming a wonderful landscape of nature and humans in harmony.
Jizu Mountain is famous for its grandeur, steepness, uniqueness, delicacy, and serenity. Xu Xiake, a distinguished geographer and a traveler of the Ming Dynasty, visited Jizu Mountain twice. In his travelogue, he sang high praise of Jizu Mountain as “the miniature of ancient and modern places of interest”, “Jizu Mountain ranking as the first for its uniqueness and delicacy”, “the sacred mountain and the capital of Buddhism”, “the kingdom of Buddhism from heaven”, and “the first rank Buddhist Mountain in China”. This tourist resort is well-known for its four fantastic views and eight marvelous spectacles: “Halo of the Buddha at Tianzhu peak”, “Echo of roaring thunder at Huashou Gate”, “Accumulated snow on the Cangshan Mountain”, “Mist circling over the Erhai Lake”, “Wind whistling through pines and ravines”, “Waterfall piercing the clouds”, “Sunset tinting the cliffs red”, and “Autumn moonlight lighting up the Buddhist temples and pagodas”.
“Halo of the Buddha at Tianzhu Peak”
In summer and autumn, after rain comes the sunshine and seven colorful circles occasionally appear in the sky at Tianzhu Peak wreathing in mists and clouds. Monks see the circles as “Halo of the Buddha at Tianzhu peak”, which is said to bring good luck to whoever sees the view. In fact, it is a natural phenomenon resulted by the refraction of light.
“Echo of roaring thunder at Huashou Gate”
Huashou Gate lies on the cliff to the southwest of Lengyan pagoda. It is a rock screen, resembling a huge door with the crack between two door leaves. In the middle of the door-like rock hangs “a stone bar”. The whole rock is over 20 meters in width and 40 meters in height. In summer and autumn, the rock echoes to the roaring sound of thunder far away. It is a fine day in Huashou Gate but stormy in the distance, hence the name.
“Accumulated snow on the Cangshan Mountain”
Covered with snow all the year round, the Cangshan Mountain sparkles under the sunlight. It is interesting that in winter the snowy ranges of 19 peaks in surrounding clouds looks like a white dragon mounting the clouds.
“Mist circling over the Erhai Lake”
Erhai Lake remains tranquil at sunrise. The mist from the surface rises up slowly into the air and then scatters as the gentle breeze comes, which enhances the beauty of Erhai Lake.
“Wind whistling through pines and ravines”
Jizu Mountain and all its sides are environed by forest unexplored thanks to the protection for generations. Overlooking from Jinding temple, one will be intoxicated with luxuriantly green trees. Thousands of shady pines, in particular, provide protection against the burning rays of the sun. The dancing trees whistling in the strong wind look like the surging waves of the sea, which gives forth a sense of pleasure and comfort.
“Waterfall piercing the clouds”
Of over ten waterfalls on Jizu Mountain, Yulong waterfall, one kilometer southwest of Zhusheng Temple, ranks the first. The waterfall measures over 60 meters in height, and it resembles a huge white screen hung on the cliff. This makes a marvel when occasionally the clouds and the mists float across the face of the waterfall.
“Sunset tinting the cliffs red”
When the departing sun kindled the sky, the dark green cliffs between Luohan Precipice and Jiuchong Rock, as well as the surrounding flowers and trees, run into the red as a flame.
“Autumn moonlight lighting up the Buddhist temples and pagodas”
At the foot of Wenbi Mountain and inside Zusheng Monastery stands a white pagoda which is over 20 meters high. This pagoda faces Guangming Pagoda (also known as Lengyan pagoda) across a great distance. When the moon moves to the west of Guangming Pagoda on a clear night, the two pagodas together with the moon stand in line. The magnificence of the two pagodas becomes more remarkable in the shroud of darkness. Xu Xiake happened to observe the scenery and acclaimed it as the best in China.
Jizu Mountain, a Buddhist scenic spot, features its natural landscape and Buddhist culture. Climbing up it, one can appreciate birds, camellia, precious plants, fantastic views, fir trees, treasures, animals and marvelous spectacles.
The Pilgrimage Festival on Jizu Mountain starts from the 1st day to the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar. During these days, people from Dali Prefecture and neighboring counties make a pilgrimage to pray for a prosperous country and peaceful life. On this occasion, Jizu Mountain is bustling with noise, songs, and laughter when visitors and pilgrims come in floods. Pilgrims are not supposed to miss a single temple so as to offer incense and donate money for the renovation of temples. On the last day of the festival, Jinding temple is crowded by thousands of pilgrims who long to see the splendid sunrise.
The climate on Jizu Mountain is varied, with a lower temperature at the top. The vegetation distributes vertically so that lots of precious trees grow there, such as pines, firs, and camphor trees. Therefore, Jizu Mountain is a good place not only for sightseeing but also for being a tourist resort.
In conclusion, this is a place blessed with numerous myths, legends, historical stories, and poems by men of letters, as well as rare animals and delicacies. Jizu Mountain is indeed a scenic spot with rich cultural implications.
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