Mt. Taishan in Shandong Province

Mount Taishan, one of China’s five sacred peaks, is situated near the eastern seaboard, in Tai’an County of Shandong(Shantung)Province. The place can be reached by both train and bus from Ji’nan, the provincial capital.

Rising 1540 meter above sea level, Mount Taishan is a symbol of loftiness and grandeur Since ancient times the Chinese have used expression like“as firm as Mount Taishan”and “as weighty as Mount Taishan”. The mountain has numerous majestic hills and crests, centuries—old pines and cypresses, magnificent temples and waterfalls Beginning in the third century, emperors journeyed here to worship and pray to heaven, and scholars have left many poems and inscriptions praising its charm. May and October are the best months for climbing the mountain. This usually begins with a visit to Taishan Temple at the foot of the mountain. Built in the Han dynasty during the third century B. C., Taishan Temple is where emperors offered sacrifices to the sacred mountain. The temple was greatly expanded in the Tang and Song dynasties, that is between the 7th and the 13th centuries until it reached its present scale, occupying an area of some 96 thousand square meters. The place is studded with tall cypresses and steles and has numerous cultural relics and historical monuments to interest the seeker.

The splendid Tiankuang Hall is the temple’s main building. With a grazed yellow-tile roof and glittering embellishments, it is 48 by 19 meters in size and 22 rectors high. It is one of the best, known of the palace-style buildings of ancient China. What particularly attracts attention here is a mural 3by 62 meters. A masterpiece of the Song dynasty (960-1279), it portrays the God of Mount Taishan with his entourage beginning and returning from an inspection tour. The well-considered arrangement and flowing brush style ale remarkable for so early a work.

Hall a kilometer north of Taishan Temple ls Dai Zong Archway, one of the main gates to the mountain park and also the starting point for ascending the summit by the eastern route There are three routes to the summit, but most tourists prefer the eastern one, for this nine-kilometer trail offers innumerable interesting sights. Visitors are provided with mountain-climbing Boots, walking sticks and raincoats as well as special guides who explain the historical background of the various scenic spots and the legends that have evolved around them. A short climb up winding stone steps brings one to Red Gate Palace, which is real y a group of buildings nestled against the mountain with a stream flowing by.

Further up along the trail is Sutra Stone Valley where, on a large flat rock, an ancient calligrapher has carved the text of the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, each character fifty centimeters high. Over a thousand years of weathering has left about a thousand characters legible, but these are probably the most important of the cultural relics on Mount. Taishan.