A buddhist monk in a prayer meditation under the famous Ginkgo tree. Photo by Demilked
A Buddhist monk in a prayer meditation under the famous Ginkgo tree. Photo by Demilked

China has countless Buddhist temples but one of them in the country’s Zhongnan Mountains is a one of a kind because of an unusual gigantic tree that sheds its cute-looking yellow leaves in the temple’s compound during the autumn.

The 1400 years old tree in the front yard of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple is a stunning beauty to behold due to it’s sea of yellow leaves both on its branches and on the ground that lights up the adjacent temple. This unique phenomenon has drawn thousands of curious tourists from all over China and abroad to come and have a look or take striking pictures.

This happens during the fall from mid-November when the normally green leaves slowly turn to yellow and then drop to the ground creating a mesmerizing beauty that also makes a perfect space for meditation, reading or bonding with nature.

The enormous tree is so old that its species are dated way back hundreds of million years ago when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and took refuge under its cool shades. That is why it is also said to be one of the only living links to the dinosaur era. The tree is said to look very identical to what similar trees looked like about 200 million years ago and despite all the climate changes, this particular and rare Ginkgo tree has survived majestically until today. It is because of this wonder that Ginkgo trees are sometimes referred to as living fossils.

The tree’s vibrant yellow color gave it the nickname of Maidenhair and nature photographers make the biggest number of tourists that frequent it. Buddhist monks revere it so much that there’s a Buddhist god idol under it where monks from the neighboring temple usually come to chant, pray and meditate.

The 1400-year-old tree is just in front  of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple
The 1400-year-old tree is just in front of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple

The best time to see the mystical tree shedding its golden-brown leaves is during autumn. You’ll be inspired while seeing the leaves, which some say look like the summer sun, drop and turn the brown grounds into a golden-yellow carpet or a yellow ocean.

Visiting the tree is part of the autumn celebrations for the nearby locals and the Buddhist faithful. The tree is believed to have been planted during the reign of Emperor Taizhong of the Tang Dynasty between 626-649 AD. Due to its rich nature and cultural heritage, the Ginkgo tree is treasured countrywide and also listed on China’s national list of protected trees. This was done to preserve its importance in both the religious and natural life of the people surrounding it.

Visiting this tree will enable you to take your best photos ever and also visit the nearby monastery and the Buddhist temple. But the sight of the compound soaked in the yellow leaves will always remind you of how China is truly blessed by nature. The yellow compound can be perfectly viewed from almost every angle and you’d do well to travel there before crowds of other tourists swell up. Plan doing this in early to mid-November and you won’t regret.