Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tianmen Mountain. Tianmenshan Temple.


Given that we are in a National Park, I did not expect to see a temple here but indeed there is one.  I guess that really should be no surprise as this was not park area when the temple was originally built.  From the Coiling Dragon glass skywalk, we made our way along the Coiling Dragon trail to Tianmenshan Si ("Heavenly Gate Mountain Temple").

First, we walked through an area filled with red ribbons.  We had come across a similar area on our walk through  Huangshi Village and I had jokingly named the section Red Ribbon Forest. 




Looks like someone beat me to the idea.  Not quite the same in English but I bet you it's the same in Chinese! :-)


There's really only one path that takes you around Tianmen Mountain so you can't get lost but you also can't be afraid of heights as the path literally hugs the side of the mountain, following every bit of curve.


I appreciate the overall look of the pathway.   I think the railing was even designed to look like tree branches that had been twisted, if they could have been twisted, into position to form a barrier.  The paint even matches the rock wall so the whole effect is that unless you are either fairly up close to or look very carefully at the railing, you don't really see it; it blends very well into the background.




As crowded as the skywalk was, it was surprising how few people were on the trail.  The four of us are very good at being solo so I don't think I spoke with anyone on this trip - it was just about enjoying the scenery around me.





The building sits atop the summit of the mountain which is known as Fairy Peak.



Seemingly, in the middle of nowhere, we came across the oddest of structures.  Yim and Sal entered but they were back out in literally a few seconds.


Here's the plaque describing the structure.  I still don't get what it's all about.  Maybe it's just space where you can go and meditate?


Chinese love rocks and this one, which I thought looked like a giant clamshell, caught my attention so much so that I didn't even see the temple at first. 


With my back to the clamshell rock, I now had a full view of Tianmenshan Si.

The Buddhist temple complex, as it exists today, was built on the site of an older, considerably smaller temple that was erected during the Tang (618-907 AD) Dynasty. The replacement temple was erected about 500 years ago, during the Qing (1644-1911 AD) Dynasty, though it has been completely rebuilt in 1949 while maintaining the temple architectural style of the Qing Dynasty period.


Lee gave us a few minutes to wander about the complex on our own.  In all honesty, I have see so many Buddhist temples this year (with Thailand, then Myanmar and Korea) that seeing yet another one was really not something I was keen in doing so I did walk around but I didn't bother to go inside any of the buildings.  If I could easily just peek inside the door or window, that was good enough for me.




Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings

Drum Tower

Bell Tower


To get to our next destination, inside the park, we had to take the chair lift .  That was a fun ride! 


Yim and I watched Mal and Sal take off before getting into our lift; Lee rode by herself right behind us.






I don't know where all the tourists were but I was not complaining.  Not only did we not have to wait to get our chair lifts but the ride over the peaks and dips in the mountain landscape was a lot of fun.  We did cross chair lift paths with a happy bunch of Colombian tourists who were most likely heading to the temple that we had just left.  We exchanged a few words which is how I know where they were from. :-)

Look ma!  No hands!  But seriously, these chair lifts were moving so slowly and there was no wind blowing, it was an easy ride!

It was about a 20 minute or so to get from one end to the other.


There's a tower at the top of Fairy Peak where you can go to get a panoramic view. 


We didn't stay here very long as we still had one more place to go to in the park before calling it a day.