Emei Shan – Golden Summit

Golden Summit - Jinding

Having followed the Canadian girl’s advice to take the bus up Emei Shan, we got to the near-top and went straight for the cable car. The 3-minute ride to the Golden Summit temple complex saved us two hours of walking. Once we stepped off the cable car along with fifty Chinese tourists, it was a mere 15-minute walk uphill to the summit at an altitude of 3077 m (10150 feet). I was in awe when I saw the tall golden temple with elephants at each corner sticking out of the fog and visitors running in every direction – although, this is not apparent from the photos as the number of visitors and amount of fog changed dramatically from minute to minute.

Golden Summit Temple in Fog

In addition to making offerings in the form of burning incense or lighting candles at the Golden Summit Temple (Jinding Si), most people come here to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, if weather permits. And this is a big IF.

Tony at Golden Summit

During our five hours on the summit, the weather changed from simply overcast, to I-cannot-see-my-own-hand-foggy, to blindingly sunny, back to overcast and even rain. While it was raining, we hid inside the tall golden temple walking in the Buddhist tradition clockwise around an enormous Buddha statue. I was close to the point of enlightenment when the monk inside started screaming at a bunch of Chinese tourist who were snapping pictures and talking on their cell phones while walking counterclockwise – a big Buddhist taboo.

As soon as the sun came out, we walked from viewpoint to viewpoint and even experienced the rare phenomenon called the Buddha’s Halo where rainbow rings show up around a person’s shadow in the cloud sea below the summit. According to some guide books, devout Buddhists would sometimes jump off the cliffs upon seeing Buddha’s Halo thinking this was a call from beyond. Give me a parachute and I may think about it.

Golden Summit is the end point for most pilgrims and tourists but for us, who chose the path of least resistance, this was the starting point for our hike down.

Golden Summit Temple in Sun

3 responses to “Emei Shan – Golden Summit”

  1. avatar lisanunn says:

    What a fantastic place. People really know what they are doing when they build temples in hard to reach places. It sounds like this one is in a weather-warp (something akin to a time-warp–yes I made that word up) which makes it feel all the more transcendental, teetering on the cusp of this world and the heavenly one. Kind of like when people go out in the wilderness and starve themselves for several days, hoping for a “vision” from God. They almost always manage to see a vision. That one’s called a hunger-warp in my book. But same idea here, only it’s the weather playing with your mind.

    I miss you two.

  2. avatar evelyn says:

    Fabulous pictures, you two, and this is fabulous writing, Thomas. I am walking with you guys, feeling the ‘weather-warp,’ as Lisa would say. Keep up the great blogging, both of you! And belated happy birthday, Thomas! No one said it in German, and I have no idea if these work. They’re a mouthful. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! und, Ois Guade zu Deim Geburdstog!

  3. avatar laurelle says:

    Ooh, ooh! I have to share this with you. I have seen Buddha’s Halo around my own shadow on a cloud in the Olympic Mtns. of Washington state! (That’s a lot of prepositions) I think I even have an old photo of this phenomenon taken at a place called Hurricane Ridge. I’m so excited. I never knew it had a name . . .

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