Mengshan Mountain Buddha (蒙山大佛 - Méngshān dàfú)

Rem Sapozhnikov / April 2014
The next day, after my arrival in Taiyuan, I planned to visit the suburbs. I chose a giant stone Buddha as the first place to visit. Everyone knows sitting Buddha of Leshan, carved in the red rock on the riverbank of Minjiang, recorded in UNESCO World Heritage Site. Moreover, almost no one has heard about the Buddha on the Mengshan mountain, which is 162 years older than its Sichuan brother and is much closer to Beijing.

Guided by Google maps, I took the bus to the desired stop, somewhere in 20 km to the south-west from the center of Taiyuan. After getting off the bus, I was immediately surrounded by minivan taxi drivers, who for 10 yuan offered me a ride to the entrance to the mountain park, where the Buddha is located. The distance from the bus stop to the park entrance is about 2 km. 10 yuan is, probably, too much, but no need to wait until the vehicle is filled with passengers.

Minibuses take you to the gates closing the entrance into the park.
To my surprise, the entrance was free, no need to buy a ticket. Buddha can be reached by foot along a mountain road, but it is better to cover part of the road by electric car for 12 yuan.
Blown by rather cold wind I go up. The final stop is in front of Guanyin Hall. From there onwards one should go on foot to Buddha.
Tourist map. ↑ Click for detailed view ↑
(蒙山大佛景区游览图 - Méngshān dàfú jǐngqū yóulǎn tú)

Once again: electric car brings tourists to the area, which is drawn on the map in the bottom left corner. I'll move along the route counterclockwise. In the same manner are arranged photos on this page.
Guanyin Hall (观音堂 - Guānyīntáng).
Take a look inside. ↑ Click for detailed view ↑
An information stand near the Guanyin Hall.
The road goes through souvenir shops and eateries.
蒙山晓月 (Méngshān xiǎoyuè). Literal translation – moon dawn in Mengshan.
The Moon in these mountains appears earlier and leaves later than in other places.
Therefore it is considered that this is a great place to watch the sunset, watch the stars and see the sunrise. The modern young people simply jump on the rocks sticking out of the pond.
Top view of the pond. This photo was taken much later, on the way back.
Mini Waterfall.
People in different parts of the Earth pray in their own way.
Further up.
Then I did not yet know that these climbing stairs is nothing compared to what awaits me in the coming week.
Dormant Buddha sits here for almost one and a half thousand years.
On October 2, 2013, for a week, the Buddha was clad into a golden robe similar to that worn by Buddhist monks in monasteries. In this way local residents expressed their respect to Buddha and, in addition, drew attention to the problem of the destruction of the statue. Also potential tourists have learned about this unjustly little-known attraction.
I wish so that Buddha should sit here still for many millennia and go further, but by different stairs.
Kaihua Temple (开化寺 - Kāihuàsì).
Iron Buddha.
Lianli Tower (连理塔 - Liánlǐ tǎ). The name can be translated as accrete tower. The structure has a common foundation. It was built in 990 during the Northern Song Dynasty under the Emperor Taizong (976-997), during the reign of Chunhua (990-994). Later the towers were renamed in the stupas. The below translation is free and may not be accurate.
The Southern (left) one was renamed in the stupa of Buddha incarnation (化身佛舍利塔 - huàshēn fú shèlì tǎ).
The Northern (right) one in the stupa of Buddha who lightens (定光佛舍利塔 - dìngguāng fú shèlì tǎ).
↑ Click for detailed view ↑
Buddha remains sitting peacefully in its place in the midst of the mountain tranquility, and I go back to the parking lot of electric cars, go down the mountains, reach the city bus stop by a minivan and continue my way.

Continuation :
Tianlongshan Grottoes

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