No. 127: Pusa Ding, Wutai Shan, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on April 13, 2015.)

These steles stand in the courtyard at Pusa Peak (菩萨顶), Wutai Shan, Shanxi (山西, 五台山).

August 27, 2012 - At last, the summit! The path linking the temples I visited earlier in the day (Shifang Tang, Luohou Temple, Yuanzhao Temple, and Guangzong Temple) climbs up a mountainside until it reaches "Pusa Ding" (Bodhisattva's Peak), which sits on top of Vulture Peak.

Originally built between 471 and 499, the temple now called Pusa Ding has been rebuilt and renamed many times. The current name refers to this being the residence of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom whose presence was once perceived here.

This temple was popular with the Qing emperors Kangxi and Qianlong (reigned 1661-1722 and 1711-1799, respectively). Kangxi stayed here four times, and Qianlong twice.

For this reason, when the temple was rebuilt in Qing Imperial style, it was granted the right to use the imperial color yellow on its roof tiles. Lamas took over the temple's operation in 1705, during Kangxi's rule, and the temple became the chief over all other Tibetan establishments on the mountain. This is all the more important as Tibetan temples once outnumbered Han monasteries on Wutai Shan.

The temple is reached by a flight of 108 steps, representing the 108 distractions from the spiritual life. Entering the gate, one turns right into the East Courtyard to see a most amazing sight.

The Dragon Stele is a piece of white marble 258 centimeters (over 101 inches) tall. In addition to the stunning dragon carvings at the top, the sides are carved with a poem written in the temple's honor by Emperor Qianlong in 1786. What makes it unique is the languages used: Manchurian, Mandarin, Tibetan, and Mongolian, one on each side.

Having basked in the achievement of reaching the top, I started back down to see two more temples on my itinerary.

GPS Info:
  • 39.01323, 113.59466


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

108 steps lead to Pusa Ding

A sutra carved in the wall of a side courtyard

The Dragon Stele stands in a side courtyard.

The historic Buddha and Tibetan Master Tsongkhapa in the main hall

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