Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Usnisa Palace on Niushou Mountain near Nanjing 牛首山文化旅游区

The massive Niushou Mountain Scenic Area comprising the stunning Usnisa Palace, Usnisa Pagoda and Usnisa Temple is one of my best memories of my 7 day trip to Jiangsu province in China. Niushou Mountain is just a short 45 minutes drive south of Nanjing so it is a Must See, if you are visiting Nanjing city.

On arriving at Niushou Mountain, we climbed a flight of stairs leading to the 88 metres tall, 9 storey Tang Dynasty style Usnisa Pagoda.

We did not enter the pagoda this time but our guide told us that the highlights are the Usnisa Vajra Clock made of bronze on the 8th floor and Buddha Statue on the 9th floor. From the top floor, visitors can get a panoramic view of the entire Niushou Mountain Scenic Area. I would love to visit the Usnisa Pagoda when I come to Niushou Mountain again. You can check it out, if you are here.

At the top of the stairs is a big square. In the background is the pagoda of Usnisa Temple. We did not visit the sprawling temple complex but was briefed that it houses the monastery, meditation hall, preaching hall, halls for dining, tea pavilions, as well as the monks' living quarters.

The original Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) temple was destroyed during the Taiping Revolution (1850 - 1864) and rebuilt in 2015. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom had its capital in Nanjing before it was defeated by the Qing forces.

The main attraction for most visitors to Niushou Mountain is the stunning Usnisa Palace which externally comprises a sail like structure (left) and a huge dome (right).

The massive "sail" covering most of Usnisa Palace is inspired by Buddha's flowing robe.

There is a large, serene pond outside Usnisa Palace conducive for reflection and meditation.

The angular roof tiles covering the top of Usnisa Palace's dome reminded me of those covering Singapore's Theatres by the Bay.

The dome symbolises Buddha's skull. A piece of parietal (skull) bone from Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama himself is interred at Usnisa Palace.

The base of the dome symbolises Buddha's lotus seat. The dome has 9 levels - 3 above ground and 6 underground.

I quickly grabbed a shot of the beautiful walkway around the dome before the rest of the tourists arrived 😛 Usnisa Palace is an extremely popular tourist destination. It takes 15 minutes to just walk around the circumference of the dome.

The Reclining Buddha at the upper level inside the dome of Usnisa Palace. The 9 metre Reclining Buddha rotates slowly on a revolving platform.

Devotees celebrate Buddha with lights, music and dance at the Reclining Buddha.

The main sanctuary of Usnisa Palace is 6 levels underground. We took long escalator rides down like descending into a deep underground mine (the site was actually an old iron mine).

Reaching the bottom level, the beautiful passageways prepared us for the magnificence we were about to experience at the sanctuary.

The crowd moved along silently, each person immersed in their own thoughts as they approached the sanctuary.

The grandeur and splendour inside Usnisa Palace's main sanctuary was simply jaw dropping. Everyone was stunned into silence. All was quiet except for hushed sighs of awe and wonderment.

We were completely enveloped by the aura of the sanctuary. The sheer scale of the splendour surrounding us was humbling and put us back into perspective of our minuscule, transient existence in the great Universe.

I think even if I spend an entire year at Usnisa Palace to admire the exquisite elements of the sanctuary, it will not be enough. The scale and level of detail throughout the sanctuary was beyond belief. 

One of Four Heavenly Kings guarding the sanctuary.

(The precious Buddha's skull bone relic is interred in the deepest sanctuary and not open to the general public.)

👉 I asked a friend who had been to Nanjing a few years ago if she visited Niushou Mountain before - she replied that she cannot remember. I remarked that, in that case, I am quite sure that she hasn't, because no one can visit Niushou Mountain and not remember it 😄

If you are in Nanjing, a day trip to Niushou Mountain is a Must. If your tour agent didn't include Niushou Mountain in your Nanjing itinerary, tell them you Must visit it 😄

Niushou Mountain Scenic Area 牛首山文化旅游区

AddressDongshanqiao Town, Jiangning District, Nanjing 211153, China 
Tel: +86 25 5289 0877
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm (allow at least 2 hours for a visit)

Date visited: 12 May 2018

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  1. Hi Tony, your sharing on Niushou Mountain tour (esp. on the pagoda & palace) is very interesting. Could you please provide the details of your tour agency. FYI I am residing in JB. THANKS.

    1. Hi Kelvin,

      You can try to look for Ik Chin Travel, Chan Bro, Travel Hub etc, they have Nanjing packages and willing to advise you more information. You can like and follow fb@ExploreJiangsu to get Jiangsu latest news too.

    2. Hi Kelvin, you answers :-D Wish you a great trip.

      Meizi, Thank you.


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