If you are the kind of traveler who enjoys breathtaking scenery and serene landscapes coupled with nature's melodic music and visual beauty, then you must visit Mount Jiuhua. It will offer you a rare experience of communing with nature on an unparalleled level---the trip will surely be unforgettable. The mountain is considered as one of China's best summer tourist destinations. Incidentally, it is also a holy site being home to four sacred shrines of Buddhism.
The Name 九华山 "Jiuhua Shan"
The mountain's name literally means "nine glorious mountains". It is not only a sacred Buddhist mountain, it is also home to famous temples that had been revered since ancient times.
Initially referred to as Mount Linyang during the Han Dynasty and Mount Jiuzi during the Chen and Liang Dynastis, Mount Jiuhua's history stems back from a legend. During the Tang Dynasty, a poet named Li Bai was said to have reached the mountain and wrote that "Magic is divided to two branches, sacred mountain generates nine glories."
From there, Mount Jiuhua came to its present name, which as mentioned earlier meant "nine glorious mountains". Apart from the story of the great poet, there are other historic accounts regarding Mount Jiuhua.
It has been said that in the year 719 AD, a Silla prince who looked like Dizang Buddhisattva went to Mount Jiuhua. There, he cultivated for a total of five years. When he died at the age of 99, his physical body remained intact! Due to his resemblance to Dizang Buddhisattva, he was believed to be a reincarnation.
From then on, the monks held rites for him at the mountain. During the Qing and Ming dynasties, the mountain had around 360 temples with up to 5,000 nuns and monks.
Because Mount Jiuhua is considered a holy site, it has likewise been a pilgrimage site for many monks all across the globe. It was opened to the public in 1979 and tourists have been flocking to the site since then.
Located at Qingyang County in the province of Anhui, Mount Jiuhua is bordered in the north by the Yangtze River and covers a total land area of 120 square kilometers. There is a protection area and this covers around 114 square kilometers.
At the mountain, you may be able to view Mount Huangshan, which is its south border. Mount Jiuhua has a total of 99 peaks and around 18 scenic spots. The most famous peak, the Greater Tiantai peak, is considered the most important but it is not the tallest. Buddhists are said to visit the Anhui province just to climb this particular peak.
Who Mt Jiuhua is Suited to
A trip to Mount Jiuhua is most suited for travelers who are looking for pilgrimage destinations. Those who would like to bond with nature, meditate, and be exposed to sacred Buddhist relics and venues will also greatly appreciate the delicate magnificence of the mountain.
What to Bring
When visiting Mount Jiuhua, make sure to bring your camera---there are too many picturesque sites to capture on photo. Pack lightly and wear comfortable clothes. It would be best to visit the mountain in the summer so make sure to dress accordingly, consider not only the weather and the location but also the sanctity of the Buddhist temples.
What not to Miss
There are ten important sights at Mount Jiuhua that you must not miss: the Five Streams mountain scenery, Taoyan waterfall, Jiuzi singing stream, the Heavenly Pillar's celestial presence, the Heavenly Terrace sunrise, the Shutan Pool mirror of the moon, the Flat Terrace snow mantle, the East Cliff form, the Huacheng evening bell toll, and the Lotus Peak sea of clouds.
During the months of March to November, the admission fee is 190 CNY. It is cheaper during December to February, at only 140 CNY. It is recommended that you stay there at for at least one night or two in order to witness the above-mentioned sights. They are open from 8am until 5:30pm. The cable car runs the Baisuigong cable way for about 55 CNY per person (100 CNY for round-trip) and the Tiantai way runs for 75 CNY (CNY 140 for round-trip).
How to Get There
In order to get to Mount Jiuha, you have two travel options: by bus or by train. If you wish to reach the mountain by air, take a flight that leads to Wuhu, Nanjing, Hefei, or Huangshan airport first. From there, you can take the bus.
There are three bus stations that lead to Jiuhuashan. The Nanjing Zhongyangmen station has four travel times (7:40am, 12pm, 2:50pm, and 4:20pm) and these rides will get you to Jiuhuashan four to four and a half hours later.
The Hefei Tourism station has hourly bus rides to the mountain beginning 10am until 3pm. And lastly, the Huangshan Scenic area has two buses that go to Mount Jiuhua: one at 6:30am and one at 1:30pm.
For the train option, you must first go to Chizhou Railway Station. From there, you can find buses that will take you to Mount Jiuhua with minutes interval only. You will reach your destination around an hour later.