The holy land of Mount Wutai, Shanxi province is a much quieter, more somber place in winter than during the lively summer season, more like an ink wash painting and an impressionist one, with an eternally blue sky and white everywhere, except for the dots of red or grey tile, the evergreen trees, and the stunning architecture, which take you back to the distant past.
The winter wind on the mountain will also bring you out of your torpor and make your mind clearer, and if you encounter the snow, it's perfect for a walk through the fairy land. But it wasn't so long ago when this beauty was not so easy for tourists to get to in winter because of impossible road conditions that sealed the mountain off. Now, however, not only are the roads much better but so are the tourism facilities, reception, and services, so that winter tours to Mount Wutai are becoming more popular.
There are also winter travel activities on the mountain to keep the visitors happy and involved and sightseeing spots to help tourists enjoy the snowy view, and some temples holding Christmas or the New Year ceremonies where people can pray, or just experience the Buddhist culture.
Starry sky over Mount Wutai, the night of Jan 7. [Photo/wutaishan.city.sohu.com]
Winter travel guide for Mount Wutai
Key spots: The temples include Xiantong, Tayuan, Luohou , Shuxiang , and Zhenhai, as well as Pusa Peak and Dailuo Peak, and the Wuye Shrine, all easily accessible.
Buddhist winter activities: On Nov 17, 2014 of the Lunar calendar (Jan 7, 2015), there is an Amitabha celebration; on Dec 8 (Jan27, 2015), there is a Sakyamuni celebration; on Dec 29 (Feb 17, 2015) there is a celebration and Tibetan King Kong dance, to exorcise evil spirits.
Getting there: If you drive, the recommended route is to enter from the south, on Wuxin Highway; other methods are the Mount Wutai bus line, from the city of Taiyuan, or the city of Xinzhou's coach station.
Accommodations: Popular star hotels include the Youyi Hotel and Jindu Villa, while family inns in the town of Taihuai on the mountain are a reliable alternative.
Food: There are many vegetarian courses to taste in this Buddhist world, to follow the Buddhist life followers. One noteworthy delicacy on Mount Wutai is the mushrooms, a type of imperial food for the court of Chinese emperors during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). They are prepared in a variety of ways, and are believed to have health benefits.
Attention: Winter temperatures can reach 30 degrees below zero, and there are often strong winds, so clothing is an important item, including cold-proof shoes and gloves. You can watch the weather forecasts, but protect yourself.
Edited by Roger Bradshaw
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