There are 8,800 steps you need to climb to reach this sacred temple in southwestern China. The climb takes up to four hours, depending on your physical condition, and along the way you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, which has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2018.
The temple is located on the highest peak in the Wuling range and it is sacred because it is the considered to be the bodhimaṇḍa of the Maitreya Buddha. How construction workers managed to transport the required materials to the approximately 100-meter-high rocky spire without modern technology is still a mystery to most scholars today.The temple was built in the Tang dynasty, and has been renovated many times since then. The most recent renovation was in the early 21st century.
Those who want to avoid the arduous climb, can also take a cable car to a rocky outcrop just before the summit. However, one would then miss the ancient inscriptions from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, carved along the thousands of steps, expressing the locals’ reverence for the sacred mountain. Once at the top, visitors first arrive at the Temple of the Buddha on the south side of the temple complex. One can then walk across to the Maitreya Temple via a narrow stone arched bridge.
The area is now a popular destination for both Buddhists and tourists from all over the world who come to enjoy the spectacular views. Incidentally, the mountain and the unspoilt surrounding area is also home to many rare and endangered animals, including the Chinese giant panda which just adds to its appeal.