Tai Shan is the most sacred of the five holy mountains in Daoism. It was on the summit of Tai Shan that the emperor would perform his rituals and offer sacrifices to Heaven and Earth. Only five emperors actually ever scaled this mountain, although the Manchu Emperor Qianlong actually climbed it 11. From the summit, Confucius is said to have said “The world is small” and Chairman Mao “The East is red”.
Climbing Tai Shan is an exhausting thing to do but your soul is replenished when you reach the summit. The views are simply out of this world; it is no wonder that the Chinese believe this is a sacred place.
You will start your climb to the summit at the base with the town of Tai’an which is the gateway to the mountain. There are two ways to scale Tai Shan, the central or western routes which both meet in the middle at Midway Gate to Heaven. Most will opt for the central route which was once the imperial route. There are so many cultural attractions along the way and then finish by going down the western route.
On the central route you will pass so many things to see; from beautiful stone bridges that look like something out of a Chinese fairy story to towers, rivers, caves, pavilions and temples. This is a holy mountain, and the amount of religious and spiritual relics prove this.
Visit the famous Dai Temple and carry on up the road to the Guandi Temple where a massive statue of the god of war is housed. You will find the First Gate of Heaven not far away and then a commemorative archway which declares “the place where Confucius began to climb”.
You will soon come to the Red Gate Palace which is one out of many temples dedicated to Bixia. Carry on to Doumu Hall which is also known as Dragon Spring Nunnery.
Midway Gate to Heaven is the place where the Central and Western routes meet. The second heavenly gate, you will find a wealth of temples here, including the God of Wealth Temple. The Five Pine Pavilion is the location where the First Emperor of China found himself sheltered by five pine trees when a violent storm broke out.
There are so many things to explore here; the Path of Eighteen Bends, the Opposing Pines Pavilion, Welcoming Pine and then the Archway to Immortality are all wonderful things to see.
The final stretch of road will lead you to the South Gate to Heaven, the third celestial gate. Explore the beautiful Azure Clouds Temple where you can make offerings to several deities including Bixia, Yanguang Naintai and Taishan Songzi Niangniang. Then you will come to Qingdi Temple before you are hit with the beauty of the Jade Emperor Templke which, when covered in mist, is simply too beautiful for words.
The Wordless Monument, Confucius Temple, North Prayer Rock and Rear Rocky Recess are all places you should visit before you make your way down the Western route.
Descending down the mountain via the western route rewards you with some fantastic scenery. The Black Dragon Pool is the highlight of this route, just below the famous Longevity Route with its small and beautiful waterfall. Before you finish with Tai Shan, a visit to the lovely Buddhist Puzhao Temple is a must-see.