The Peak Flown From Afar is a notable scenic spot that is part of the West Lake Scenic Area. Also known as Feilai Feng, the hill lies to the southwest of Hangzhou and is known for being completely composed of limestone, which is very rare in China. Due to its unique nature, the material of the mountain is perfect for carving images of Buddha.
The small mountain is located in the eastern part of Ling Yin Si and is isolated from the other hills and mountains in the area. Standing at 209 meters tall, the Peak Flown From Afar is accompanied by an interesting legend. According to legend, during the Eastern Jin Dynasty, the Indian monk Huili went to the limestone hill and noticed its resemblance to another limestone hill found in India. He then remarked, “This peak is the Eagle Hill in India. How could it fly here?” This is where the name Peak Flown From Afar came from.
The Peak Flown From Afar is considered as a National Cultural Heritage; thus, it is under the protection of the government.
Things to do
When visiting the Peak Flown From Afar, the experience is one that combines a climbing, walking, trekking, and sightseeing adventure. For Buddhist devotees, the experience is also a spiritual pilgrimage set against the backdrop of Hangzhou’s natural beauty.
The first notable thing you will see is the peak itself, which, as a limestone formation, is unlike most hills. However, aside from the hill itself, visitors can’t help being mesmerized by the Buddhas that were carved there since ancient times. The number of the carvings now exceeds 500. Some of the carvings date back to the Five Dynasties, the Song Dynasty, and the Yuan Dynasty.
The Buddhas also come in varying poses; some are standing, some are sitting, and some are even squatting. A number of carvings also feature Buddha in a sleeping position. The biggest of all the carvings is one called Maitrey, which has a cloth bag on the shoulder and with a laughing expression on its face as its breast and belly are exposed. It is also called the Buddha of joy; it is quite easy to spot as it is seated on a cliff just along a brook. This carving has been there since the Northern Sung Dynasty.
Another popular image that can be found on the Peak Flown From Afar is a carving of the King Da Li Ming, but with three heads and eight arms. The king is stripped down to the waist and is adorned with a crown on his head and a pearl and jade necklace around the neck. This carving dates back to the Yuan Dynasty.
Nature itself has been tempted to make carvings near the peak of the mountain, where the limestone has been ravaged by time to form figures that resembled a flying dragon, an elephant in mid-stride, a crouching tiger, and a fleeing ape. These sights never fail to amuse visitors.
Moving to the other side of the peak, visitors will also see a pavilion called Cui Wei. The pavilion was built in memory of the national hero Yue Fei, a man who played a key role during the war between the Southern Song Dynasty and the Jin Tribe. The pavilion has undergone multiple restorations after being destroyed several times in the past. The restorers, however, tried hard to preserve the original look of the pavilion and to refresh the structure by painting it anew.
The Peak Flown From Afar is right next to the Lingyin Temple, so after exploring the limestone hill, you can also visit the temple. Note, hoever, that visitors are advised to wear comfortable sports shoes for the trek up to the peak.