EXTRA: Nanhai Guanyin Area, Putuoshan, Zhejiang

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on December 19, 2011.)

This giant statue of Nanhai ("South Seas") Guanyin (南海观音) is
20 meters high on a 13-meter base--a total of 33 meters, a number
sacred to Guanyin. The statue dominates the southeast area of
Putuoshan in Zhejiang (浙江, 普陀山).
August 20, 2009 - The day after my return from Hangzhou, I went to Mt. Putuo, one of the "Four Buddhist Mountains" of China. (The others are Mt. Emei in Sichuan, Mt. Wutai in Shanxi, and Mt. Jiuhua in Anhui. I haven't been to any of these yet!) [Note in March of 2014: only Emei Shan remains!]

The best way to get to Putuo Shan is by direct bus from central Ningbo, by bridge to Zhoushan Island and then to the short ferry to Putuo Shan's island. As I was in Beilun, far from the center of Ningbo, I took a taxi to Beilun port, then a l-o-o-ng local bus ride along Zhoushan before reaching the final ferry.

Landing on the island, I caught a shuttle bus to the Purple Bamboo Hotel, where I checked in before taking an evening walk up to the area around Puji Temple. Outside the gates of the temple I saw the beautiful Duobao ("Plentiful Treasure") Pagoda, the oldest building on the island, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). However, I wouldn't enter the temple grounds until two days later.

The next morning I headed for the 33-meter-tall Nanhai Guanyin, built in 1998. Each of the Buddhist mountains belongs to a Bodhisattva (a kind of Buddhist "saint"), and Putuo Shan is Guanyin's. As the bodhisattva of compassion, he (sometimes she) is one of the most popular in China.

Near the huge modern statue are some older locations.

The Xifang Jingyuan is a small temple which guards access to "Guanyin's Leap," a "footprint" in a stone. This is where Guanyin is said to have landed after leaping from Luojia Shan, a small island 10 kilometers away, where she had been undergoing Buddhist practices.

Also nearby, Bukenqu Guanyin Temple was built when a Japanese monk tried to take a statue of Guanyin from Mt. Wutai to Japan back in 916. As storms kept driving him back to Putuo, he realized that the statue "refused to leave" (the meaning of "Bukenqu"), and so he built a temple and stayed. Numerous temples (and statues) have replaced the originals throughout history; what we see today was built in 1998. The temple has a fine set of modern Japanese statues of the thirty-three appearances of Guanyin; just below the temple is the Chaoyin Dong, or "Cave of Tidal Sounds," which makes quite a roar when waves crash into it.

As I left the area, I entered the Purple Bamboo Temple (Zizhulin) which I had passed on the way in. It's a typical small temple, though much larger than the other two I had visited that morning.

From there, I headed up the hill to catch the bus near Puji Temple, on my way to Huiji Temple on the island's highest point.

GPS Info:
  • 29.97622, 122.39406


View The 142 Maps: Map View in a larger map


Duobao ("Many Treasures") Pagoda outside Puji Temple, built in the Yuan Dynasty
The 33-meter Nanhai Guanyin, built in 1998 (see postcard version above)
Full view of Nanhai Guanyin
Xifang Jingyuan sits atop the hill, as seen from "Guanyin's Leap"
Guanyin is said to have leapt from the island in the distance to the stone on the left, leaving a footprint on top
Entrance to Bukenqu Guanyin Temple; the "Cave of Tidal Sounds" is just to the right
Corridor at Bukenqu Guanyin Temple housing statues of Guanyin in 33 forms
The "Cave of Tidal Sounds" is surrounded by railings next to Bukenqu Guanyin Temple
Jade statue of Guanyin in the second hall at Zizhu Lin (Purple Bamboo Temple)


The images here were created from my photos (including some above) and intended to resemble vintage postcards. Enjoy!

This statue of a pilgrim (香客) is seen prostrating just outside the dock area as one arrives on Putuoshan.
There is said to be a footprint of Guanyin (观音) on top of the rock in the foreground, where he/she leaped
over from Putuoshan (普陀山) to Luojiashan (洛迦山) for some quiet practice. The island itself looks like Guanyin
reclining, and is a little over five kilometers away--quite a leap! Located inside Xifang Jingyuan (西方净苑).
The gateway to Bukenqu Guanyin Yuan (不肯去观音院).
Guanyin (观音) with the usual attendants--Dragon Girl (龙女) and Sudhana/Shancai (善財)--in a hall inside Zizhulin (紫竹林).

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