Putuo Mountain is one of the four famous Buddhist Mountains in China, making it one of the most famous landmarks in China. Putuo became renowned both at home and abroad, especially among people of Southeast Asia, due to its mystical Buddhist Sanctuary, which since the Tang Dynasty and through the Yuan Dynasty has been known as the “Putuo Mountain of the South Sea.”
This solitary mountain rises above the East China Sea. Its main peak, the Buddhist Top Peak, is 300 meters above sea level. This marks it as one of the famous landmarks in China.
In A.D. 863, during the Tang Dynasty, a Japanese monk tried to ferry a stature of Guanyin back to Japan, but encountered a storm. He had to leave the statue on Mt. Putuo. A local resident, Zhang, took the statue home and named it “Guanyin who does not want to leave.”
In A.D. 916, after Zhang passed away, a temple was built by the locals, which they called “The temple of Guanyin who does not want to leave.”
Located in the eastern part of the Zhoushan Archipelago, which is full of mystic caves, tranquil vales, overhanging cliffs, and golden beaches, the mountain is known for its rough terrain and exquisite landscapes. It also has great religious significance.
For a thousand years, the temples on Putuo have endured tornadoes, fires, and rebuilding. In addition, they did not fare well during the cultural revolution, when all the Buddhist statues in the temples were destroyed.
The temples were permitted to be rebuilt in 1979 after the death of Mao in 1976, and went through large-scale reconstruction during the 1980s and 1990s to meet the demands of tourism. Now, the mountain is described in Chinese tourism literature thus:
“The Mountain is not only a sacred place of Buddhism, but also an ideal summer resort. It has a mild climate, intriguing surroundings, and unique scenery. It is cocooned in verdant trees, and looks like a place of great wilderness.”
The mountain features many caves, of which the Chaoyin and Fanyin (Cave of Buddhist Sound) caves are the most renowned. The Fanyin cave is sandwiched between two steep cliffs some 100 meters high. When the sea level rises, water pours into both these caves with a thunderous roar.
Most visitors to the mountain come to see its three famous temples — Puji, Fayu, and Huiji — but are unacquainted with the sacred teachings of true Buddhism due to suppression by the communist regime.
Many Chinese people believe that praying to the Buddha statues in these sacred temples brings good fortune. The mountain is particularly crowded on the three days sacred to Bodhisattva Guanyin — her birthday (Feb 29 on the Chinese lunar calendar), the day on which she began studying Buddhism (June 19 on the Chinese lunar calendar), and the day she became a nun (Sept 19 on the Chinese lunar calendar).
On these dates, there are all-night ceremonies and chanting, and the temples are packed with people. Putuo Mountain has thus become one of the famous landmarks in China.