A day trip to Yinshantalin (Silver Mountain Pagoda Forest)
Another place for sightseeing just out of Beijing (well about 50 kilometres away which with traffic means about an hour and half drive) which I don’t think is really that well known to the general tourist population, nor are they on the top ten places to visit in Beijing are the Silver Mountain Pagodas.
The pagodas are located at the bottom of Yin Shan (Silver Mountain), and is so named because in winter the snow-covered mountain is as white as silver.
It’s funny I mentioned that I didn’t think this was on the top ten places to visit in/near Beijing… but the mountain was listed as one of the twenty-eight designated tourist destinations during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and in the Ming and Qing dynasties it was one of the eight greatest scenic spots of Beijing. So for me it was definitely worth a visit. I arranged for a group of my friends and myself to go there one Sunday in winter and we hired a bus and driver to take us there.
The three peaks of the mountain are not very high, however the cliffs are very steep, like a wall, so this meant that the mountain was called also called ‘Silver Mountain Iron Wall’ by ancient Chinese.
The mountain used to be a famous Buddhist shrine and over four dynasties (Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing) many monks’ tomb pagodas were built, most of which were Lama pagodas shaped like inversed bowls. Now there are eighteen pagodas in the area including seven multi-eaved and eleven overturned-bowl-shaped structures. Pagoda architecture was introduced to China from India along with Buddhism and blended with unique Chinese wooden structures such as pavilions, terraces and towers which give Chinese pagodas a different look to those in India.
The multi-eaved pagodas which were built in the Jin Dynasty represent the largest and best-preserved in China. The pagodas are among the 100 still existing in China built over 800 years ago. Silver Mountain Pagoda Forest is now a cultural heritage site and because of its history is also a sacred place of Buddhism.
I particularly loved the sign near the Forest advising visitors not the walk on the luxurious grass [see for yourself not much luxurious grass there!!!] but perhaps the sign is more relevant in spring and summer.