Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Chinese Way>DoYouKnow

Zhoushan Archipelago: Buddhist paradise between sea and sky

2013-11-07 14:31:36

(China Today) By Wu Meiling


Legend has it that, around 2,000 years ago, a Japanese monk named Hui’e made a pilgrimage to Wutai Mountain, a sacred Buddhist site in Shanxi province. There he obtained a statue of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, with the intention of taking the figure back to Japan. After setting sail to a gentle breeze and fine ripples, a raging storm erupted as the vessel approached Zhoushan Archipelago in present-day Zhejiang province. After the tempest subsided, a vast floating carpet of lotus blossoms blocked the ship’s path. Hui’e took this as a sign that the image of the Goddess Guanyin was unwilling to leave China. Out of respect for her wishes, he took the statue to the nearest island and placed it in Chaoyin Cave at the foot of Putuo Mountain. A local resident surnamed Zhang who had witnessed the extraordinary event offered his house as a temple to Guanyin. He named it “Temple to the Goddess of Mercy, Who Declines to Leave.” Today, Putuo Mountain is one of China’s “Four sacred mountains of Buddhism,” and Zhoushan Archipelago is a state-level new district, known as Buddhist Paradise on the Sea.

Zhoushan Archipelago is actually an extension of the Tiantai Mountain Ranges in east Zhejiang province. Its higher peaks became islands 8,000 to 10,000 years ago when the sea level rose and submerged the lower mountains. Mount Putuo – Sanskrit for “beautiful white flower” – is one of the biggest islands. Celebrated for its beautiful scenery, the mountain has more than 10 natural scenic spots that feature grotesquely shaped stones, secluded caves, lush forests, sandy beaches and impressive reefs. There is an ancient Chinese saying that Hangzhou’s West Lake offers the most beautiful lake and mountain views and Putuo Mountain the most breathtaking mountain and sea vista. The island’s Buddhist legacy is manifest in the island’s architecture. The Tang Dynasty (618-907) when Buddhism was at its height in China, saw the building of three major temples, 88 small ones and 128 dwellings on Putuo.

We recommend:

Memorial archways: preserving history

Supernatural Beings in the Witchcraft Culture of Chu Tile Cat - Guarding the house from the roof
1 2