This post is about the second Buddhist Mountain my family visited, for the post about the previous Buddhist mountain we visited and vegetarian food there, click here.
From Pu Tuo Shan 普陀山, we took a boat and bus to Ningbo and then to Hangzhou. Travelling on the overnight train at 3am it took us around 6 to 7 hours to reach Chizhou in Anhui, where we can take a 12 Yuan bus to Jiu Hua Shan 九华山.
Jiu Hua Shan is another of the 4 great Buddhist mountains in China dedicated to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Di Zang Wang Pu Sa). This was because in the Tang Dynasty, the Korean prince by the name of Kim Gyo Gak ordained as a monk and travelled to Jiu Hua Shan to cultivate the Dharma. When he passed away at 99 years old, devotees placed his body into a stone casket. 3 years later they opened the casket to place his body into a pagoda, and discovered his skin colour remained like a living person and the joints in the body rang like metal locks. Based on this and the description in Buddhist scriptures, people knew that this monk was a transformation of a Bodhisattva, and because his ordination name was Di Zang and he looks similar to Di Zang Pu Sa, they knew he was a transformation of this Bodhisattva. His body is now kept in the pagoda at Rou Shen Bao Dian.
There was also another monk - Wu Xia, whose body was found to remain perfectly preserved 3 years after he passed away in a cave. One of the Qing Emperors had his body covered in gold and placed at the Bai Sui Gong temple.
Jiu Hua Shan in general, has 3 different levels for visitors. One at the bottom of the mountain where you can buy the tickets to take the bus up the mountain. The middle level is at the circular Jiu Hua street (九华街) which is where the bus will drop you. The highest level is near the Tian Tai temple where you have to take another bus from Jiu Hua street up to Feng Huang Song (凤凰松) and then take the cable car nearby up. If you are quick and take the cable cars instead of walking, you should be able to cover most of the more famous temples and major scenic spots in 1.5 days.
We stayed 2 nights at a farmer's house at the bottom of the mountain where they build a couple of hotel-like rooms especially for receiving tourists - 3 pax for 80 Chinese Yuan a night. Hot showers, air-con, CCTV with English and Chinese movies, good beds. Very worth it - the best budget stay we had for the whole trip.
Note: If you stay at the bottom of the mountain, before leaving the mountain, make sure you inform the man at the bus drop-off point at the gates near Zhi Yuan Si (祗园寺) that you are re-entering the mountain the next day.
We hardly eat anything for breakfast and survived on some of our own veg food which turned out to be beneficial for doing lots of walking and climbing.
For dinner both nights, we treated ourselves to the Jiu Hua Shan Vegetarian Restaurant (九华山素食馆).
This vegetarian restaurant is located at the bottom of the mountain, at a small alley across the road from the ticketing building where you take a 20 minutes bus ride up to Jiu Hua Street (九华街). When I went they put this red banner up on the street outside. Just walk in towards the rows of shops and you will see the restaurant.
This vegetarian restaurant has just been opened for around 2 months and with mostly vegan options. The owner himself and his wife are vegetarians.
This was what we had for the 1st night which was very filling, luckily no more climbing after that.
Green tea with snacks b4 dinner was served.
Vegetarian dumplings served in soup (水饺). This was really good, especially when you are thirsty and hungry after all that climbing and walking.
Stir-fry broad beans (清炒蚕豆). I wasn't a great fan of broad beans but my family ordered this. It was pretty ok.
Jiu Hua Di San Xian (九华地三鲜) I thought this was and interesting dish. Literally, the "3 freshest from the land" refers to potato, brinjal and green pepper. This dish is popular in North-eastern China, and it is tasty.
Stir-fry Shan Yao (a kind of yam) (清炒山药). Nicely done - not too crunchy, not too soft. This dish can also be prepared with olive vegetables.
The total bill for 3 pax is 100 Chinese Yuan.
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