Mount Emei: Overflowing with Natural and Spiritual Wonders

Mount Emei's valley walk. (Image:  Tom Britt via  flickr CC BY 2.0 )
Mount Emei's valley walk. (Image: Tom Britt via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

Mount Emei (峨眉山 Éméi shān), sitting at the western rim of the Sichuan Basin, is one of the most famous mountains in China. This incredible site has deep ties with the origin of martial arts and Chinese Buddhism. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has an area of 154 square kilometers and its highest peak is 3,099 meters (1.9 miles) above sea level. Mount Emei is known for its high percentage of endemic plant species, with approximately 200 distinct species in various plant families. This exceptional ecosystem is also rich in animal species with some 2,300 species, including several that are globally endangered.

Mount Emei is known for its high percentage of endemic plant species, with approximately 200 distinct species in various plant families. (Image: Michael Lowell via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mount Emei is known for its high percentage of endemic plant species, with approximately 200 distinct species in various plant families. (Image: Michael Lowell via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mount Emei is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China and is traditionally regarded as the Bodhimaṇḍa, or place where Bodhisattva Samantabhadra attained enlightenment. During a specific time of year, people will see a rainbow ring of light, somewhat like an aureole, rise from the peak. They call it the “Buddha’s Halo.”

Mount Emei has 76 Buddhist temples where Chinese people have worshipped Buddha since ancient times. Nowadays, thousands of visitors spend their time at Mount Emei admiring the majestic sunrise, sea of clouds, ancient temples, rare plants, and the enormous Buddha statue, the Leshan Giant Buddha. Beautiful vistas can be viewed from the top area of the mountain, known as the “Golden Summit.”

Buddha’s Halo

There is a huge rainbow ring of light that sometimes appears at the mountain’s peak. When the rainbow ring crosses with the clouds, people see their shadows within the clouds, surrounded by all the colors of the rainbow. The phenomenon leaves a mystical impression of the wonder of this spiritual mountain. Interestingly, each person can only see his or her own shadow in the rainbow ring, but not anyone else’s.

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