I don’t know about you, but if someone were to mention “Summit of a Holy Mountain” to me a few months ago, I would’ve pictured a barren mountain top with a grizzled hermit meditating right at the pinnacle. (Jo’s been playing this “Draw Something” app for the past few weeks, so we’ve been getting quite a bit of practice at converting disassociated words into images)
We definitely did not expect full fledged monuments and elaborate temples at the top of the 3099m high Mt Emei (峨眉山). As far as we know, there are no discernible roads leading there (The cable cars we took stopped us 1.5 km from the summit and we had to hike the rest of the way up).
Anyway, even without the temples and the Buddhist statues, it’s not hard to imagine why Mt Emei is regarded as one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China.
For one, there are a few natural phenomenon which are supposedly exceptionally spectacular at Mt Emei. On the Golden Summit (金顶) of Mt Emei, you’re supposed to be able to see one of the world’s most beautiful sunrise (日出) and sea of clouds (云海). There’s also the naturally occurring phenomenon of the Buddha’s Halo (佛光) aka Broken Spectre, where you’d be able to see a magnified shadow of yourself in the clouds surrounded by a golden halo. The last of the four “treasures of Emei” are the Buddha lights (佛灯), vigil fires that can be seen floating through the valleys of Mt Emei.
Out of all the above, we were only able to see one of them – the sea of clouds, but it was a sight that literally warmed our cockles (well, mine anyway). Part of the appeal of trekking up Emei is that it is almost perpetually foggy and cool. It creates a magical,enchanted atmosphere, but after a while, it can get kind of dreary. So, we were really happy the moment we broke through the fog and got the sunshine again. It was something else entirely, when we looked out and saw this below us…
We’re not suicidal in any sense of the word, but we were sorely tempted to leap into the clouds just because they look so soft.
Last, but certainly not least, we all know that Mt Emei is immensely sacred quite simply because they told us so. No surface is safe from the gratuitous use of publicity material to spread this message.