Mount Emei (an elevation of 3,099 meters), located 165 kilometers from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, draws the most attention for its 154-kilometer spread, attracting tourists since ancient times with phenomenal views all the year round.
Its highest peak, the Wanfo Summit, starts at 500 meters above sea level and rises to 3,099 meters above sea level, giving it a remarkable variation of temperatures. Therefore as the saying goes, four seasons co-exist on one mountain, where the temperature of one place is different from another only five kilometers away. Indeed, in March when flowers bloom at its base, Mount Emei's Peak is still thick with snow. In summer, it is scorching hot at the foot but comfortably cool higher up. The seasons each bring its own stunning beauty to Mount Emei. The azaleas of springtime are brilliantly red, while summer is lush and verdant because of the trees and grass. In autumn, the mountain is decorated by autumnal leave, only to be blanketed in winter by fresh white snowfall. Ancient temples, trees and mountain slopes are all covered with snow. The snow can absolutely dazzle tourists. Bitter cold hardens it into ice, turning the trees into "ice flowers".
A local story about how Mount Emei got its present name reflects the legendary stature of the beauty and romance of the mountain. Emei is a poetic term for "beautiful women". Legend has it that there was a temple outside the west gate of the town where a monk gave shelter at one time to a painter. The painter repaid his kindness with four pictures, each of which had an elegant, and lovely young girl on it. The painter told the monk the paintings must remain in a trunk for 49 days after his departure. But the monk, too impressed to give attention to the painter, hung them on the wall immediately. When the monk returned that evening, he was shocked to see four girls giggling away in the hall, the pictures now completely blank. As the monk realized that they had leaped from the portrait, the girls ran out of the room. Giving chase, he was only quick enough to hold the skirt of the youngest girl who, in desperation, escaped his clutches by changing into a mountain peak. The other three, hating to abandon her, did likewise, which explains why Mount Emei had three peaks close together and a fourth standing a little distance apart.
Mount Emei is more than a big mountain to many people. It can also be a frame of mind, and not just because looking up at its monumental heights forces tourists to recognize their smallness. For centuries, the Chinese people have believed nature has a mysterious influence on man's character, and mountains supremely exemplify nature. Mixed up with this tradition was the ancient folk belief that mountains were the magical habitants of immortals.
Like the three other sacred mountains - Wutai Mountain, in Shanxi Province, Juihua Mountain in Anhui Province, and Putuo Mountain in Zhejiang Province - Mount Emei's sacred character has been thoroughly institutionalized by many temples on its mountain slopes. Buddhism arrived on Mount Emei some 2,000 years ago and left behind more than 30 temples, including over 10 that represent a unique Mount Emei style.
Famous spots on the mountain: The Baoguo Temple, The Wannian Temple, Hongchunping, Elephant's Bathing Pool, Golden Summit, The Fuhu temple, etc.
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