Mountain Putuo located in the east of Zhoushan
City. Zhoushan City is situated on Zhoushan Island that
in turn gives its name to a group of some four hundred
small islands off the east coast of China in Zhejiang
Province. These islands are in fact the peaks of submerged
mountains and so rise steeply from the sea. Mountain
Putuo dominates the small rhomboidal land mass with
its total area of about 12.5 square kilometers.
The Mountain was originally called Mountain
Meicun for a man named Meifu in the Han Dynasty had
once lived here. It got the sacred spirit after a Japanese
monk who came to China to seek for help. The monk planned
to carry a Guanyin sculpture obtained from Mountain
Wutai back to Japan. But unfortunately he was stopped
by a storm at this area. He believed that the Guanyin
was reluctant to live, so he landed and built the "Unwilling
to Leave Nunnery" to host the sculpture. Since
ever, the mountain has been heavily visited by pilgrims.
It is one of China's four sacred Buddhist
mountains, particularly oriented toward the Buddhist
deity Guanyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion.
Legend has it that Guanyin once showed her bodily presence
here and left a number of historical sites. The temples
and shrines on the island are full of colorful sculptures
depicting the deity in her various forms, from the common-seen
South Sea Guanyin at her welcoming perch overlooking
the sea, to various depictions of the Thousand-Hand
Guanyin, whose tangle of limbs represents her ability
to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.
Today, a giant statue of Guanyin looks out
to the sea at the southernmost tip of the island. Built
in 1997, the 33-metre statue is made of bronze and gold.
It depicts Guanyin holding a ship wheel, signifying
her watching over sea farers and fishermen. Guanyin
literally means ¡°observing the sounds¡±
in Chinese, she is one of the most revered figures in
Chinese Buddhism, known for her compassion as well as
her supposed powers to grant male children.
Besides the must-see Guanyin statue, the
three biggest temples on the island are Puji Temple,
Fayu Temple, and Huiji Temple. Puji Temple, a main area
of worship, houses a nine-metre tall bronze statue of
Guanyin. Charming cobblestone streets lead to Haiyin
Pool right in front of the temple. This is where the
faithful set turtles free as a gesture to gain merit.
Mountain Putuo is known as "Buddhist
country amidst sea and sky". It is also referred
to as 'Oceanside paradise and Buddhist realm' and as
'The first sacred place in the world'. The island is
green, tranquil and almost traffic-free. Putuo is not
only the national center of Guanyin pilgrimage, but
also the international pilgrimage center of Guanyin
of the South Sea.
There offers many other attractions, from
the carved stone murals surrounding the Nanhai Guanyin
to various caves, grottoes and temples. As for those
beaches, two of the more famous ones are One Hundred
Step Beach and One Thousand Step Beach. Both are lovely,
but they can be very crowded during the peak season.