Fanjing Mountain ( 梵凈山 )

Located in Tongren ( 銅仁 ) and spanning parts of Jiangkou ( 江口 ), Yinjiang ( 印江 ) and Songtao ( 松桃 ) counties in Guizhou (貴州 ) Province, Fanjing is the highest peak
Fanjing Mountain ( 梵凈山 )

of the Wuling ( 武陵 ) Mountain Range. Tranquil and unique, perilous and beautiful, Fanjing rises to 2493 meters above sea level and covers an area of 567 square km.

With many Sanskrit inscriptions, Fanjing Mountain has been a tourist attraction since Buddhist altars were erected during the Wanli Reign Period of the Ming Dynasty ( 明萬曆年 ). Harboring 150,000 mu (15 mu = 1 hectare) of pristine forest with 406 varieties of trees and with 304 kinds of animals, the mountain is one of China's most important subtropical wilderness areas and was designated as a state key natural reserve in 1978.

China has many scenic spots, but few are so serene as Fanjing. Far from noisy cities or towns, the mountain is surrounded by many smaller peaks, meandering rivers and overlapping woods. With innumerable brooks and streams flowing crisscross down its slopes, Fanjing offers waterfalls too.

Free from any dust-storm, but washed by frequent rains and caressing mists, Fanjing is a pollution-free scene of green mountains and crystal clear rivers, with fresh air that's often filled with the smell of fragrant flowers and deep-colored leaves. In fact it's name -- Fanjing means "Buddhist tranquillity" -- is attributable to this unspoiled beauty, the belief amongst Buddhists that a clean environment leads to a clean conscience.

Fanjing boasts an extraordinary range of rare plants and animals, many of them on the verge of extinction and extremely rare. Among the unique creatures that dwell here are Guizhou golden-haired monkeys, a species under state-level protection because there are only about 700 individuals left in the wild. Also rare is the Guizhou crape myrtle
Fanjing Azalea ( 梵凈山百里杜鵑 )

(Lagerstroemia indica), which locals regard as a deity. Included in the list of precious animals and plants are salamanders, red-belly tragopans, white-belly golden pheasants, musk river deer, Chinese pigeon trees or fossilized dove trees as well as rare firs.

Fanjing is also known for its remarkable mountainous formations. Mushroom Rock on Wanbao Rock resembles a mushroom cloud bursting from an atom bomb explosion condensed on the steep cliff. Eagle Rock looks like a male eagle frozen in flight as it feasts its eyes on the landscape.

Smaller Golden Top Stone resembles a seated fossilized Buddhist monkey with its head and body, eyes and ears, mouth and nose as well as the garment and decorations all true to life. A bit of imagination might conjure up images of the birthplace of Monkey King who made a mess of the Heavenly Palace. Are the Golden Sword Gorges not the very crack from where Monkey King came bursting out? Later on, according to the classics, the Golden Monkey became the Buddha and was fossilized here.

Beside the Wanbao Rock there are innumerable piles of "hardback books" from which emerges an imposing golden summit. Legend has it that the Dragon King's nine daughters enjoyed taking baths in the Nine-Dragon Pool between the Great Golden Summit and the Phoenix Mountain, causing the water to spill out in all directions and pour down from the mountaintop to form 99 zigzagging and crisscrossing streams.

Fanjing is also unique for its weather - a dreamy blend of sunshine, rain and mist. Standing atop the Golden Summit, rays of sunlight coming down through the misty clouds, you will see a wonderful multi-colored image of a halo around the Buddha. Like strands of yarn or silk, mist rubs the mountain so clean it seems to shine.

And it seems the weather is always changing. Standing on top of the Golden Summit with your head bowed down, you will find your face caressed by the foggy air, and with your
Golden Summit( 梵凈山金頂 )

head turned up, you will see cloudy clusters dashing against each other, and then in the twinkle of an eye, you will find your head spattered by a sudden shower of raindrops. At this juncture, if you have keen eyes, you will see how the clouds and fog evaporate, forming themselves into small drops which will eventually fall as rain. What a fantastic and fascinating experience!

Walking along a stony path flanked by woods, you don't notice Fanjing's perilous side when ascending to the campsite from the foot of the mountain. Unless you're really keen, you can hardly see the sheer cliffs. But the situation changes if you climb either one of the Golden Summits.

Greater Golden Summit features a huge square rock -- the heart-stirring Ten Thousand Book Cliff -- standing erect like a sky-piercing pillar and seemingly ready to topple over at any moment. If you are to scale the heights, you have to climb almost at a 90-degree
angle up a ladder made of iron chains, as if you're dancing in the air along the iron chains. And if you want to climb the Golden Sword Gorges on the Smaller Golden Summit, you will have to take a risky overpass with your heart leaping into your mouth.

On a clear day, when you stand on top of the Greater or Smaller Golden Summit, you will have a panorama of a cloudy sky stretching far and wide. And looking downwards,
Immortal Bridge ( 梵凈山仙人橋 )

you will see a flock of stone peaks at the foot of the mountain, as if they were ready to take off all at once. It's so beautiful and charming that you can barely tear yourself away from the scene.

In the mountain's tranquillity, uniqueness and perilousness there resides a stark beauty. From the unusual flowers and grasses, to the numerous birds and beasts and the wonderful scenery, it's difficult to exhaust Fanjing's beauty because it keeps changing all the time.