The Thousand Buddha Mountain lies 2.5 kilometers from Jinan in Shandong Province is a very popular place to visit. The mountain is around 258 meters in height. In 1959, the area had been developed as a park and it covers an area of around 166 hectares.
Things to Do
Thousand Buddha Mountain along with Baotu Springs and Daming Lake are the most popular scenic spots in Jinan. In the past, the mountain was known as Mount Li. However, during the reign of Sui Dynasty, several Buddha statues had been chiseled along the mountain and the temple itself had been constructed. Very soon it became quite famous and received the name it has today. There are several historical relics and scenic spots throughout the mountain.
Thousand Buddha Mountain has several beautiful carved statues which were carved mostly from 618 to 684 AD. It is believed that the first ever Buddha statue had been carved by a 70 year old Buddhist monk in 619 AD known as Sha Dong. After 25 years, two more sculptures were carved by an old monk called Ming De. The monk also donated some money to get more statues carved on the mountain.
The Political Implications
During Tang Dynasty in China, the official policy was to encourage people to convert to Taoism. Carving of these Buddhist statues were a risk politically but the monks continued to do so because their only purpose was prayer instead of expressing their political opinions. Despite all the difficulties, various other Buddhists continued with carving these sculptures. Eventually the location became the largest ever collection of cliff Buddhist statues in the area.
The Halls And Temples
Thousand Buddha Temple had been renamed Xingguo Temple later. The temple leans against the mountain cliff and overlooks the beautiful Jinan City. The temple is home to various attractions such as Kwan Yin Hall, Duihua Kiosk, Laughing Buddha Hall and Daxiong Baoding. There are four characters carved along the cliff close to the temples and these inscriptions are highly celebrated in the area. In the Lishan Coutyard, visitors can see Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism harmonize with one another. Yilan Kiosk, Wenchang Pavilion, Luban Temple and Shun Temple can also be found here.
Over 130 statues of Buddha can be found carved on the southern side of this mountain. The cliffs also hold four different caves called Ivzu Cave, Qianlou Cave, Jile Cave and Longquan Cave. Wanfo Cave is around 500 meters long and it had been constructed along the northern side of Thousand Buddha Mountain. It draws the elite from the four popular Chinese grottoes- Maiji Caves, Yungang Caves, Longmen Grottoes and Mogao Caves. Around 23,000 different statues with designs of Guardian Kings, Disciples, bodhisattva and Buddha can be found there revealing the impressive workmanship of Song Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Wei Dynasty of China.
On the east of Thousand Buddha Mountain is a well known cemetery of Shandong Revolutionary Martyrs which was established in 1911. The cemetery is under provincial protection since 1979 and is another popular tourist attraction. Thousand Buddha Mountain and the Park there was listed in 1995 as one of the 7 Beauty Spots in Shandong Province. Many efforts are made recently to add other attractions such as ropeways, gardens etc to make the spot more attractive.