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Mount Wutai*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Temples in Mount Wutai
State Party Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference 1279
Region** Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 2009  (33rd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Mount Wutai
Elevation 3,058 metres (10,033 feet)
Translation Five Plateau Mountain (Chinese)
Location Shanxi, China
Coordinates 39°0′N 113°35′E / 39°N 113.583°E / 39; 113.583
Easiest route hike

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

Mount Wutai (Chinese: 五台山; ||pinyin]]: Wǔtái Shān; literally "Five Plateau Mountain"), also known as Wutai Mountain or Qingliang Shan, located in Shanxi, China, is one of the Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism. The mountain is home to many of China's most important monasteries and temples. Mount Wutai's cultural heritage consist of 53 sacred monasteries, and they were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.[1]

Each of the four mountains are viewed as the abode or place of practice (dàocháng; 道場) of one of the four great bodhisattvas.

Wutai is the home of the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjusri or Wenshu (Traditional: 文殊) in Chinese. Mount Wutai also has an enduring relationship with Tibetan Buddhism.[2]

It takes its name from its unusual topography, consisting of five rounded peaks (North, South, East, West, Central), of which the North peak, called Beitai Ding or Yedou Feng, is the highest, and indeed the highest point in northern China.

Wutai was the first of the four mountains to be identified and is often referred to as "first among the four great mountains." It was identified on the basis of a passage in the Avatamsaka Sutra (Ch: Húayán jīng; 華嚴經), which describes the abodes of many bodhisattvas. In this chapter, Manjusri is said to reside on a "clear cold mountain" in the northeast. This served as charter for the mountains identity and its alternate name "Clear Cool Mountain" (Ch: Qīngliáng Shān; 清涼山).

The bodhisattva is believed to frequently manifest himself on the mountain, taking the form of ordinary pilgrims, monks, or most often unusual five-colored clouds.

Mount Wutai is home to some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618–907). This includes the main hall of Nanchan Monastery and the East Hall of Fuguang Monastery, built in 782 and 857, respectively. They were discovered in 1937 and 1938 by a team of architectural historians including the prominent early 20th century historian Liang Sicheng. The architectural designs of these buildings have since been studied by leading sinologists and experts in traditional Chinese architecture, such as Nancy Steinhardt. Steinhardt classified these buildings according to the hall types featured in the Yingzao Fashi Chinese building manual written in the 12th century.

In 2008 Chinese authorities hope that the shrine at Mount Wutai will be considered for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Local residents, however, claim they have been forced from their homes and relocated away from their livelihoods in preparation for the bid.[3]

Major Temples

The Xiantong Temple, a major temple at Mount Wutai

A palace hall at Mount Wutai

Nanshan Temple (Chinese: 南山寺) is a large temple in Mount Wutai, first built in Yuan Dynasty. The whole temple comprises seven terraces, divided into three parts. The lower three terraces are named Jile Temple (极乐寺); the middle terrace is called Shande Hall (善德堂); the upper three terraces are named Youguo Temple (佑国寺). Other major temples includes Xiantong Temple, Tayuan Temple and Pusading Temple.

Other important temples inside Mount Wutai includes: Shouning Temple, Bishan Temple, Puhua Temple, Dailuo Ding, Qixian Temple, Shifang Tang, Shuxiang Temple, Guangzong Temple, Yuanzhao Temple, Guanyin Dong, Longquan Temple, Luomuhou Temple, Jinge Temple, Zhenhai Temple, Wanfo Ge, Guanhai Temple, Zhulin Temple, Jifu Temple, Gufo Temple, etc.

Outer Mount Wutai temples includes: Yanqing Temple, Nanchan Temple, Mimi Temple, Foguang Temple, Yanshan Temple, Zunsheng Temple, Guangji Temple, etc.


  1. China’s sacred Buddhist Mount Wutai inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  2. Tuttle, Gray (2006). 'Tibetan Buddhism at Ri bo rtse lnga/Wutai shan in Modern Times.' Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 2 (August 2006): 1-35. Source: [1] (accessed: Saturday, April 11, 2009)
  3. [2][3]


External links

Template:Sacred Mountains of China

Template:World Heritage Sites in China

Coordinates: 39°1′50″N 113°33′48″E / 39.03056°N 113.56333°E / 39.03056; 113.56333

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