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Jiuhuashan - holy mountain of China

Just one of the several ancient temples open to the public at Jiu Hua Shan in Anhui Province on October 14, 2010.[Photo:]

Just one of the several ancient temples open to the public at Jiu Hua Shan in Anhui Province on October 14, 2010.[Photo:]

Outside of Tongling,in the southeastern part of Chizhou City, Anhui Province, lies Jiu Hua Shan. Its name literally means "Nine Brilliant Mountains," but the 100 square kilometer area actually consists of 99 peaks, with the tallest one reaching 1,341 meters. It's a lush, green mountainous area where Buddhist and Taoist monks live among the low hanging clouds and bamboo trees harmoniously with nature. Most of the Buddhist temples found here are of Mahayana Buddhism origins, with the more remote peaks belonging to the Taoist Buddhist school of thought.

In wanting to understand China more, I realized that it is necessary to explore the country's ancient past, rather than only on its recent history. How one goes about that and where one decides to start depends mostly on circumstance and luck. Thankfully there's no set way or prescribed path. It's more about being in the right place at the right time, where you accidentally stumble upon something you never knew existed. So after spending five days in Tongling, myself and other reporters from CRI were treated to an excursion through the holy area of Jiu Hua Shan, which was nice to way to end several days celebrating the 11th Annual Bronze Exhibition.

The bus up the mountain was a careful ride which took us on a winding and twisting journey through one of China's most sacred mountain ranges. As for its religious past, Jiu Hua Shan is known as the home to Dizang Pusa, the God of the Underworld.

Without question, Jui Hua Shan's 99 peaks make it one of China's most amazing scenic destinations—it could easily take days to cover this vast expanse. It's a vibrant place alive with the Buddhist and Taoist monks living there among ancient temples. You'll only find vegetarian restaurants here, along with small shops selling incense, local woodwork carvings, and other souvenirs. The area also offers affordable hotels for those who want to spend more time within this tranquil sanctuary. And please be respectful, cameras are not allowed inside any of the ancient temples, nor are visitors allowed to take photos even from the outside.