Xuedou Mountain has something for everyone
Famous peak in Fenghua of Ningbo features host of attractions including nature, history and arts
Noted mountains are usually known for beauty spots, celebrities, famous artworks or renowned temples. Xuedou Mountain in Ningbo's Fenghua district can be said to boast each of them.
The mountain is the highest peak among the offshoots of Siming Mountain in East China's Zhejiang province, with an elevation of 1,081 meters.
Traveling from Sanyin Pool to Qianzhang Cliff of Xuedou, visitors can see waterfalls that endow the mountain with liveliness and charm amid its secluded valleys. Other pleasant scenery includes jagged rocks, peculiar trees and flowers. Up on the peaceful slopes, tourists can listen to birds and insects chirp.
From Xikou town, where Xuedou is, to Liangnong town in Yuyao city, rolling hills create winding roads. On these, while appreciating distant mountains, quaint waters and rosy clouds, people can shift their attention to pine trees, bamboos and red maples in ancient villages.
Standing on the Miaogao Terrace in the Xuedou Mountain scenic area, visitors can enjoy picturesque scenery including a lake surrounded by mountains. They may also think of the poem On Climbing Youzhou Tower written by Chen Zi'ang, a poet in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Other poets from that dynasty, such as Fang Gan and Meng Jiao, climbed the mountain to find traces of noted people — such as Wang Xizhi and Sun Chuo from the Western and Eastern Jin dynasties (265-420) — and wrote more than 100 poems.
Wang Yangming, a philosopher in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and writer Yuan Mei in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) also created works that extolled the mountain.
Scenes in the mountain in spring and autumn may dispel tourists' worries.
Xuedou Temple on the mountain dates back to more than 1,700 years ago. It has housed many noted monks since it was established. Monk Zhijue finished a well-known work on China's Buddhism when he managed the temple.
Monk Mingjue wrote a work on Xuedou, which was read by Su Shi, a writer in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). So good was the book that Su regretted not visiting Xuedou.
The most popular abbot of the temple in modern times was Master Taixu. He proposed Xuedou Mountain become one of China's five renowned Buddhist mountains in 1933.
The other four are Wutai Mountain in Shanxi province; Putuo Mountain in Zhejiang; Mount Emei in Sichuan province; and Jiuhua Mountain in Anhui province.
Xuedou Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt five times. After it was reconstructed in 1985, the temple ushered in a new era.
The National Religious Affairs Administration gave approval to build an outdoor Maitreya statue there in September 2005. A ceremony was held to consecrate the 56.74-meter-tall copper Buddha figure in November 2008.
Monk Budai from Fenghua is known as an incarnation of Maitreya, or the "future Buddha". He lived in the late Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960).
Budai loved visiting Xuedou Temple, which was therefore called Maitreya Holy Land.
Xuedou interacts frequently with other four noted Buddhist mountains. Administration committees of the five mountains scenic areas signed an agreement on tourism cooperation in November 2008.
The Maitreya Cultural Festival of Xuedou Mountain has been held 14 times since 2008.
There is also a Maitreya statue in Feilai Peak in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang.
The two regions' cultures and natural sceneries attract each other's residents. Hangzhou has become a city where rural residents want to visit. Meanwhile, Xuedou Mountain is a rural site urban people desire.
The mountain has promoted tourism facilities, offered rural homestays and planned a Maitreya shrine, where tourists can enjoy a live show in near future.
Based on Monk Budai's stories, the show will use science and technology to display arts of Maitreya culture.
Jiang Xin, deputy marketing director of Ningbo Xuedou Cultural Tourism, said: "We initially set the duration of the performance for 70 minutes and we can hold 2,500 people at most."
The show will attract more tourists to take a night tour in Xikou town, Jiang said.
Xuedou Mountain now is a center for inheriting humanistic Buddhism thought and an area for religious sinicization practice.
Fenghua has been given the title of a center for cross-Straits exchange by Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the title of the land of China's Maitreya culture by the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association.
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Picturesque Xuedou Mountain in Xikou town, Fenghua district, houses a 56.74-meter-tall Maitreya statue. JIANG MINGHAO/FOR CHINA DAILY
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