Thousand Buddha Mountain in the heart of Jinan, China. Once you’re at the top, you’ll have a panoramic view of the entire city.
Here’s a quick look at our day among the Buddhas:
1,000 Buddhas – 1,500 Years
Thousand Buddha Mountain (Qian 千 = 1,000, Fo 佛 = Buddha, Shan 山 = Mountain) is famous for it’s Buddha carvings and statues some of which date to the Sui Dynasty (581-618 CE).
The Legend of Thousand Buddha Mountain
Duan Chengshi, a writer from the 800’s, states that Thousand Buddha Mountain was originally located by the sea. The Mountain God wanted to move it inland.
A Sea God put a lock and chain on the mountain so the Mountain God could not move it. At some point, the lock broke and the Mountain God threw Thousand Buddha Mountain to its current location.
Near the peak of Thousand Buddha Mountain, you can still see the lock and chain.
Buddhism in Jinan
Buddhism became popular in Jinan in the 500’s. At this time Buddhist monks came to the mountain and carved Buddha images and statues into the mountain. Monks and various rulers also built many temples and buildings over the centuries.
War and Restoration
War and other conflicts destroyed many of these structures. Various rulers rebuilt many of them in the 1400’s. Activities during the Cultural Revolution destroyed much of Thousand Buddha Mountian. Restoration of this damage began in the late 1970’s.
Buddha images and statues continue to be added. Recent Buddha additions include the Maitreya Buddha competed in 2000 and the lying Buddha carved from granite in 1996 as well as many others.
Several natural caves in the mountain contain over 100 Buddha images and statues. A large artificial cave houses multiple Buddhas statues from the four famous Chinese grottoes dating from the 300’s to the 1200’s.
Steep Steps and More Steps
Thousand Buddha Mountain is a steep climb. It starts with a moderate incline from the entrance to the first temples, statues, and vendors [PICTURE]. At this point, you climb a few stairs interspersed with flat walkways.
Many new statues with interesting interpretations of the Buddha line this walkway.
Here, you can buy snacks and souvenirs from the many stalls on either side. Take time to veer off this walkway and see the temples which are slightly set back.
Once you reach the Reclining Buddha the climb begins. It’s all steep steps from here to the top. If you are looking for a great workout this is it.
There are pavilions and temples to stop at for a rest. Do stop at the temples and spend time exploring. I find something new each time I walk around the temple complex.
This is where you will find some of the natural caves as well.
You will also get amazing views of Jinan from here.
Near the peak is Lover’s Lookout. An overview of the mountains which has thousands of ‘love locks’ attached to the railing. You can buy a lock from the shop located there.
The Maitreya Buddha
Continue over the peak and down the steps toward the Maitreya Buddha. The Maitreya Buddha is a 20 meter-tall sitting Buddha which was completed in 2000. It is the largest Buddha in northern China.
Before you reach the Maitreya Buddha you will pass Wanfo Cave. Wanfo Cave is a 500 meters (1,640 feet) long manmade cave in the north side of Thousand Buddha Mountain. Wanfo Cave is difficult to find if you are not specifically looking for it. It is hidden in a ravine at the bottom of the mountain as you walk toward the Maitreya Buddha. It’s just below a large statue.
Recently, new walking paths, an amusement park, a chairlift, and a slide down the mountain, as well as many souvenir shops have been added.
Thousand Buddha Mountain will take at least 3 to 4 hours to see. Bring water and dress like you are going on a strenuous hike. If it is cool, dress in layers because you will heat up. Pollution is a serious issue in the winter here. Wear a pollution mask during the smog season. Thousand Buddha Mountain is a public park and has an admission fee.
Getting to Thousand Buddha Mountain
Public buses no. 2, 16, 39, 48, 62, 65, 110, 115, K139, K301, K56, K68 or K93 will get you there.
Depending on which bus you take, you may be dropped off several blocks from the entrance. An inexpensive taxi will get you to the entrance. Show the driver this: 千佛山