Saturday, March 12, 2011
Lianhuashan 莲花山 (Lotus Mountain) – Guangzhou, China
July is the hottest month in Guangzhou. However, it is the most perfect time to capture pictures with clear view and good lighting. After school day, I and my other three friends visited Lianhuashan in Panyu area, which is located quite far from my dormitory. We took MTR and it took us almost one hour to reach the Panyu station. We got off at the Panyu station and took a taxi since we did not know how to get there by public transport.
At the entrance gate, I was wowed by the beautiful scenery presented by the park to welcome the visitors. There was a golden bronze bull statue and artificial waterfall with the statue of Cartoon character Mickey Mouse scattered around the waterfalls.
The admission to the mountain is 30 Yuan and there is an extra cost 20 Yuan for a rented car to take you to the top of the mountain. If you are not willing to spend an extra cost, you could just climb to the peak of the mountain on foot. However, it would be overtiring since the journey is quite long. I would suggest you to take the car so you can save your time and energy.
Strategically located 45 km to the south of Guangzhou at the bank of lion sea and estuary of Pearl River, and occupying a massive area of 2.23 square kilometers, Lianhuashan which means Lotus Hill is a rare landscape in China and was once a site of ancient quarry by the local Chinese dated back to the Xihan Dynasty 2000 years ago. Because of its massive area, it is going to take you the whole day to visit the whole site.
Formerly, the site was an ore yard where the ancient Chinese stonemasons mined stones on a large scale from the mountain with very simple instruments and left numerous excavated cliffs and caves. They only used simple and clumsy tools but they were very skilled in stone mining. They proved their expertise by making three holes on a rock and struck it, and the rock fell with a loud crash. The shape of the mountain did not come from a pure natural process, but instead the Chinese ancestors played a big role in that. Through over than thousands of years of stone cutting and natural weathering, the carved stones have formed unique structures with different shapes if seen from above looks like a blooming lotus, which is the shape of the mountain today.
Although most of the shapes of the mountain were influenced by human, the stones and even the sheer cliffs look almost natural. The result of this quarry is very impressive and fascinating that once commented “manpower has exceeded nature's engineering”. For this reason, this famous landmark has been nominated as the National Preservation Unit of Key Cultural Relic, Guangdong Provincial Tourist Attraction”, and “Top 8 Tourist Attractions of the New Century in Guangzhou City”. The mountain is indeed a witness to the bravery and hardworking of the Chinese ancestors.
The mountain measures up to 105 meters above sea level, and because of its lotus-shaped stones, it was rewarded the Lianhua Wonderland in Guangzhou. Some of the rocks in this mountain are Baxian rock, Lotus rock, Guanyin rock, flying eagle rock, Nantianmen, Shenxian bridge and many others. In the past, the mountain functioned as a defense line against the British in the Opium Wars. For this reason, it is also called the “Great wall of Guangzhou”. At the foot of the hill, there are various shops, restaurants, and picnic spots where you could relax and enjoy your time with your family.
Based on the local legend, the name Lianhuashan is derived from a story that once there was a furious dragon in the south sea that came to the pearl river mouth bringing destructions to the local farmers. Nobody could defeat the dragon until the goddess of mercy passed by and saw what happened. She then threw her lotus flower into water to control the dragon. The lotus then turned into a giant stone and became today's Lianhua mountain. Lianhua mountain is made up of 48 red gritstones, which is a type of stone that has high density and quality. Gritstones are used as grindstones, which make a good material for wall foundation. Experts claimed that 8 of 12 stones used to build the Nanyue King tomb were derived and transported from this mountain.
Some of the major interesting sites in the mountain are Lotus Pagoda from the Ming Dynasty, Lotus Wall from the Qing Dynasty, and the holy land of Guanyin which makes up of the Bodhisattva statue and Guanyin pavilion with 1000 Guanyin images.
The Lotus Pagoda
The pagoda was erected in the Ming Dynasty in 1612 known as the memorial column of the capital of Guangdong, while the lotus city was built in the Qing dynasty in 1664. Towering to 50 meters high, the pagoda is located at the highest peak of the mountain. It has been nominated as the protected natural site which consists of nine floors outside and eleven floors inside. The building looks like an octagon from outside and was built using bricks and timber. Climb the small staircases to reach the top of the building. Since the tower is the highest point of the mountain, people used it as a mark when they traveled by ship to the pearl river. The tower once experienced several threats and damages. In 1938, the Japanese army dropped a bomb at the site causing severe damages and countless bullets marks left on the body of the tower. Fortunately, in 1981 and 1997, the tower was renovated. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to take a photograph of the pagoda since the route I took when I exited the park was different from the one I took when I entered.
The Guanyin Bodhisattva Statue
Towering to 40.88 meters, the Guanyin Bodhisattva statue facing the sea stands remarkably at the peak of the mountain. The statue was set up on October 23, 1994, weighing 120 tons and coated with 180 liang of gold that makes it the highest gold-foiled bronze statue in the world. Pious men and women even tourists worship the statue. At the night of Guanyin's birthday, every first and fifteenth day of the month, the statue would shine out light to an area of several miles.
Built on October 20, 1997, the Guanyin pavilion is located next to the Guanyin statue. It houses Guanyin goddess of mercy of a thousand hands and eyes statue with other statues surrounding the main statue. Occupying an area of 3872 square meters, the pavilion houses 1000 Guanyin icons made of various materials such as jade, wood, copper, and colorized porcelain. Therefore, it is named the pavilion of a thousand Buddhas.
The pavilion showcases architectural artworks. Almost everything inside the pavilion including the windows, doors, wooden square blocks between the top of a column and a crossbeam, shrines and altars are made of rare rosewood with walls made of levigated old blue bricks. On the first floor of the pavilion in the middle of the hall, there is a giant statue of Guanyin with a thousand eyes and hands, sculpted using fragrant champor wood. Standing as high as 12 meters, the Buddha statue sits with crossed legs and shows a serene expression. The Buddha statue in this pavilion is different from Buddha statues in other temples. In most temples, a Buddha statue only has 42 arms, however in this place, it really has a thousand eyes and a thousand hands. If you do not believe it, you could try to count them.
There is an open balcony on each floor of the pavilion where you could view the scenic panorama of the mountain. Along the edge of the Buddhist pavilion is avenue of shops selling religious ornaments of various sizes. The place is visited by people who offer prayers for fortune. In front of the temple, gigantic joss sticks are presented to the gods and devotees pray before them.
On top of the hill, you could see a stunning view with green plantations and paddy fields below.
Pilgrimaging road, with the Guanyin statue in the middle, is wide and straight paved with bluestone.
Lion rock is located at the eastern foot of Lianhua mountain. Because it looks like a lion lying at the cliff facing toward the east and roaring toward the mouth of the pearl river, it is called lion rock. According to archeologists, the mountain was originally an island, however, because of the subsiding and rising of sea water, the island became hills and the sea level became land. Lion rock was one of the rocks that retained its current shape through millions of years of beating and weathering. It has been a watcher of the mountain ever since.
100 blessings stone, “baifu”. The locals believe if you take a photo here, you will live with 100 blessings.
Lianhuashan is well known for its spectacular lotus flowers that makes it become an exotic sightseeing destination. Two grand festivals related to flowers often held by the local people in Lianhua mountain are Lotus Festival and Peach Blossoms Festival. The Lotus Festival takes place from June to August every year. During this festival, 4000 jars and 100 species of lotus flowers decorate the Guanyin area, which is a rare occasion when over than 100.000 lotus flowers are in full bloom. Lotus flower is a special flower to Buddhists for its purity. In the Peach Blossom Festival, thousands of peach blossom to welcome the spring. So, if you would like to see thousands of blooming lotus flowers, come and visit Lianhuashan mountain during the lotus festival. I could guarantee visiting the mountain is a great travel experience you will never forget.
Personal experience and additional information from other online articles