Mount Tai (Taishan) - The Greatest of Five Sacred Mountains in China

【Nature】Time:2024-03-27      Source:china discovery      Views:130

Mount Tai Facts 

Located in Taian, Shandong Province, and 1545m above the sea level, Mount Tai is a culturally and historically significant mountain. The tallest peak is Jade Emperor Peak. Visited by 72 Chinese emperors, it was the object of an imperial cult and Fengshan rituals for nearly 2,000 years. With historical relics and masterpieces found on this magnificent mountain, it was announced as a World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site in 1987.

Why is Mount Tai important

With nearly 3 billion years of natural evolution, Mount Taishan aka Mount Tai was formed through complicated geological and biological processes, with a gigantic rock mass and dense vegetation about 1545 meters towering over the surrounding plateau and sea. It forms a unique landscape, boasting 156 peaks, 138 cliffs, 72 caves, 130 streams, 64 waterfalls, and 72 springs. This majestic mountain is an outstanding combination of a beautiful natural landscape and a splendid process of Chinese civilization for thousands of years. Hence, it has been listed as a cultural and natural  heritage of UNESCO in 1987.

But far beyond this contemporary title, Mount Tai has crowned himself as the greatest of five China sacred mountains, the King of numerous Chinese mountains, symbolizing ancient Chinese civilizations and beliefs, and widely known as the sacred site of its special ceremonies and sacrifices, especially the Fengshan Ceremony. During the ancient times, a total of 72 emperors were recorded as visiting it, and six of them carried out the Fengshan including Qin Shihuang (219 BC) who unified China for the first time, Wudi (110 BC) of the Han dynasty, Xuanzong (726 AD) of Tang Dynasty, etc. Royals, scholars, celebrities, writers, authorities, came to Mount Tai to hike, acquire inspiration, compose poems, write essays, paint, carve inscriptions, and set up monuments, let alone the greatest sage of China Confucius. He reached the peak, overlooking his country Lu, and sighed with one of the most philosophical words, “the world is small”. Besides the influence of Confucianism, Mount Tai has also witnessed the development of both  Buddhism and Taoism. Hence, a great many cultural relics were left on the mountain, like grandiose temples, stone inscriptions, and tablets, etc.

The profound cultural impact of Mount Tai has been manifested and recreated, known as a number of Chinese sayings and poems: “Stable as Mount Tai”, “Has eyes but doesn't recognize Mount Tai”, "Mount Tai & Big Dipper", etc.

Significantly towering at home, Mount Tai has also been world-renowned since the ancient time. In 666 AD, Japan, India, the Persian court in exile, Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla, the Turks, Khotan, the Khmer, and the Umayyad Caliphate all had representatives attending the Fengshan sacrifices held by Emperor Gaozong of Tang at Mount Tai. Till the present, there are still places, idioms in Vietnam, Japan, and many other Asian countries related to Mount Tai.

What to see in Mount Tai

Besides the beautiful natural sites, from the foot area to the summit of Mount Tai, there are also numerous stone tablets and inscriptions and ancient buildings on the way. Here are several unmissable attractions in Mount Tai, Taian.

Jade Emperor Peak 玉皇顶 - Summit of Mount Tai

Jade Emperor Peak - Yuhuangding, located in the north of Bixia temple, is the highest point on the top of Mount Tai With an altitude of 1545 meters, formerly known as Taipingding, also known as Tianzhu peak. It was built to worship the Taoism God, the Jade Emperor, the Lord of heaven. The East Pavilion is one of the best sites to appreciate the sunrise, while the sunset seen from the West Pavilion is like a "golden belt of the Yellow River".

Bixia Temple 碧霞祠 - Grandest Temple of Mount Tai

Bixia Temple, aka the shrine of the Blue Dawn (Chinese: 碧霞祠; pinyin: Bìxiá Cí), is another grandest building complex at the top of the mountain, with a special combination of metal components, wood, and bricks and stone structures. It is dedicated to the Taoism goddess Bixia (Blue Dawn). 

Daimiao Temple 岱庙 - Museum of Taian City

Daimiao, meaning the temple of the God of Mount Tai, known as the Dai Temple or Daimiao Temple (Chinese: 岱庙; pinyin: Dàimiào), is the museum of Taian, also the largest and most complete ancient building complex in the area. Located at the foot of Mount Tai in the city of Tai'an, Daimiao covers an area of 96,000 square meters. It is a must-visit site before your hiking journey to Mount Tai. The temple was first built during the Qin Dynasty, having five major halls and many small buildings. The centerpiece is the Palace of Heavenly Blessings (Tian Kuang), built in 1008. The site contains a number of well-preserved steles, sculptures, carvings, jewelry, golden and bronze wares from different dynasties.

Sunrise and sunset from Mount Tai

The sunrise of Mount Tai is one of the most spectacular wonders of Taishan mountain. At dawn, visitors stand at the top of Mount Tai and look out to the East. The skyline changes from gray to pale yellow, and from yellow to orange. The most suitable place to watch the sunrise of Mount Tai is Sun-watching peak (日观峰) and Zhanlu terrace (瞻鲁台). If you will not stay at the top of the mountain or you don't have enough time to get to the top before sunrise, you can watch the sunset instead, which is also very spectacular. The best sunset viewing point is near the Tianjie (天街) archway. At the same time, due to the unpredictable weather at the top of Mount Tai and the low temperature at dawn and at night, you can rent a green winter coat from the vendors on the mountain or bring an extra layer to keep warm, and always check the weather forecast in time.