Mount Wutai — Buddhism Holy Land and Valuable Ancient Temples

Mount Wutai in Shanxi Province of China

Mount Wutai or Wutai Mountain in Shanxi Province of China, Photo by Tiejiache. 


What Is Mount Wutai?

Mount Wutai or Wutai Mountain, also named Wutaishan, is one of the five Buddhism holy lands in the world, and the bodhimandala of the Bodhisattva Manjusri (Wenshu). 


Besides its beautiful natural views, Mount Wutai is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has many ancient and extremely valuable buildings.


The oldest existing wooden structure building in China is well preserved on Mount Wutai.  


On this grand mountain, Han Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism have been thriving and coexisting in harmony for centuries.

Pagodas and Buddhism Prayer Flags on Mount Wutai

Pagodas and Buddhism Prayer Flags on Wutai Mountain, Photo by Tiejiache. 


Important Data of Mount Wutai


  • Mount Wutai is located in Shanxi Province, the middle of China;


  • It is around 2837 square kilometers large;


  • It has 5 main peaks, and the highest summit is 3058 meters;


  • There are hundreds of temples scattering on the mountain range;


  • The most ancient temple was built in the year 782.

Ancient Buildings on Mount Wutai.

Ancient Buildings on Wutai Mountain. 


Cultural Importance



  • Rich cultures of both Han and Tibetan Buddhism throughout history;


  • Many antithetical couplets in buildings there are quite philosophical;

  • The well-preserved ancient buildings, statues, frescoes, and inscriptions inside, are all valuable cultural relics of the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907).

Ancient Building of Foguang Temple on Mount Wutai, Built in the Year 857

Ancient Building of Foguang Temple, Built in the Year 857, Photo from qyer.  


Who Is the Deity of Mount Wutai?


Mount Wutai has been the bodhimandala of the Bodhisattva Manjusri (Wenshu) for over 1600 years. 

Manjusri (Wenshu) is one of the Four Sacred Bodhisattvas in Chinese Buddhism, representing wisdom, whose mount is a cyan lion.

Statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri (Wenshu) the Deity of Mount Wutai.

Statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri (Wenshu) on Wutai Mountain.

Important Cultural Sites


Nanchan Temple — Oldest Existing Timber Building in China

Nanchan Temple was rebuilt in the year 782 and had survived all of the natural and human destructions in the following 1200 years for its smallness and Inconspicuousness. 

Inside this 3078 square meters temple are ancient Buddha statues and a pagoda from the glorious Tang Dynasty (618 — 907).

Nanchan Temple of Mount Wutai

Main Hall of Nanchan Temple, Photo from qyer.

Foguang Temple — National Treasure of Architecture and Buddhism


Foguang Temple, the second oldest extant timber building in China, was constructed during the reign of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei (471 — 499) and rebuilt in the year 857. 

The Foguang Temple is 34,000 square meters big, and every piece inside has great historic, artistic, and cultural value. 

Architecture, statues, frescoes, and inscriptions of the Tang Dynasty are the four main treasures of the Foguang Temple, which is respected as a national treasure. 

Main Hall of Foguang Temple of Mount Wutai

Main Hall of Foguang Temple, Photo by Kou Jie.

Xiantong Temple — The Most Historic and Largest Temple of Mount Wutai

Firstly constructed in the year 69, Xiantong was the second Buddhism temple that was built in history ever (The first one was the White Horse Temple in Henan Province, built in the year 68). 

As the origin of Buddhism in China, it had been rebuilt and expanded several times in history. 

Today's 80,000 square meters large Xiantong Temple mainly consists of buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 — 1912). 

Inside the Xiantong Temple, many valuable relics throughout history are well preserved, as well as a big copper hall that was built in 1606.

Buildings and Copper Hall of the Xiantong Temple

Buildings and Copper Hall of the Xiantong Temple

Tayuan Temple or Pagoda Temple — Symbol of Mount Wutai

Built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644), the most famous part of the Tayuan Temple is the white pagoda inside. 

The White Pagoda is 75.3 meters tall and decorated with 252 copper bells, built in the year 1302, and has been the symbol of Mount Wutai. 

White Pagoda in the Tayuan Temple of Mount Wutai

White Pagoda in the Tayuan Temple.

Bodhisattva Temple or Pusa Ding — Residence of Bodhisattva Manjusri and the Royals

It was first constructed during the reign of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei (471 — 499) and had been expanded and rebuilt several times.

This was believed the residence of Bodhisattva Manjusri, and one of the holiest places of Wutai Mountain. 

Shunzhi Emperor believed in Tibetan Buddhism, therefore, in 1660, he sent lamas there and changed this place into a Tibetan Buddhist temple. 

Afterward, Kangxi Emperor and Qianlong Emperor hold worship ceremonies on Mount Wutai several times and both stayed there, which made it a royal temple of the Qing Dynasty (1636 — 1912).

Bodhisattva Temple or Pusa Ding of Mount Wutai

Bodhisattva Temple or Pusa Ding.

Shuxiang Temple — Special Statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri

Rebuilt in the year 1487, Shuxiang Temple has the largest (about 10 meters) Statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri.

In legend, when people were constructing the statue, Bodhisattva Manjusri presented for a while, when the craftsmen saw the Buddha's appearance and built the figure based on their memory.

The Statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri in Shuxiang Temple

The Statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri in Shuxiang Temple, Photo from qyer.

Frescos of Yanshan Temple, Painted in 1167 by Artist Wang Kui

Frescos of Yanshan Temple, Painted in 1167 by Artist Wang Kui, Photo from qyer.

Stone Carving of Longquan Temple

Stone Carving of Longquan Temple, Photo from qyer.

Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) Frescoes of Gongzhu Temple

Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) Frescoes of Gongzhu Temple, Photo from qyer.


Impressive Natural Scenic Views.

Sunrise of Mount Wutai

Sunrise View on Mountain Range.

Cloud Sea of Mount Wutai

Seas of Cloud, Photo by Tiejiache.

Sunset Glow of Mount Wutai

Sunset Glow, Photo by Tiejiache. 

Peaks of Mount Wutai

Peaks of Wutaishan, Photo by Tiejiache.