Emei Shan - History and Facts | History Hit

Emei Shan

, Sichuan, China

Emei Shan was the site of China’s first ever Buddhist temple and remains one of its most holy sites.

Peta Stamper

24 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Emei Shan

A cool and misty perch atop the Sichuan basin, Emei Shan or Mount Emei is amongst the holiest of Buddhist sites with a history stretching 2,000 years, and is located within the Sichuan Province of China. It was here that China’s first ever Buddhist temple was built and it is on the mountain of Emei Shan that one can still find 30 temples as well as the famous Giant Buddha of Leshan, the largest in the world.

Emei Shan has resultantly been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, with UNESCO describing it as “one of the four holy lands of Chinese Buddhism”.

Emei Shan history

A medicinal plant farmer built the first Buddhist temple near Jinding summit in the 1st century AD, although the slopes of Emei Shan have been inhabited for around 10,000 years. In the 3rd century, the Puxian form Buddhism devoted to Bodhisattva became dominant on the mountain, leading to a Chinese monk called Huichi to built a temple at the foot of the Guanxinpo Terrace.

During the mid-9th century, the Song Emperor Zhao Kuangyin sent Buddhist monks to India who were allowed to build temples on Mount Emei. Ever since, Mount Emei has been one of the holiest Buddhist sites and has brought pilgrims to the mountain for thousands of years.

Emei Shan today

Today, hikers tend to spend three days exploring the historical and natural wonders of Emei Shan. Amongst the highlights of the tour is the oldest surviving temple building on the mountain, Wannian Si. Built in 1611, it contains a famed golden statue of the Buddhist enlightener Puxian.

Visitors also clamour to see the beautiful Qingyin Ge, the vast Ming dynasty bell of the temple of Baonguo Si – said to the audible for 10 miles – and, of course, the stunning views from the Golden Summit which rises to over 10,000 feet.

Emei Shan is also noted for its rich range of plants and animals at the eastern edge of the Himalayan highlands. It’s worth mentioning the monkeys found at Emei Shan which are known for their aggressive behaviour.

Getting to Emei Shan

The town of Emei is the transport hub and lies 6.5km east of the park entrance. Most buses terminate at Emei Shan central station, directly opposite Emei Railway Station. The High-Speed Train Station is the closest to Baoguo Village, around 4km away.

A taxi from Emei town to Baoguo Village is about ¥25. Local bus 8 connects the Emei town train station with the park entrance. You can get the cable car up the mountain, stopping at various sites upwards.

Featured In

China Historic Sites

Discover China's rich history at these 10 sites across the country, from the ancient Terracotta Army to the birthplace of Mao Zedong.