Tai Shan

From the most ancient times Tai Shan has been the premier sacred mountain of China. It is the Daoist sacred mountain of the East - the pillar linking Heaven and Earth. From here life originated and where the souls of the dead return. Tai Shan has been a place of pilgrimage throughout Chinese history - Confucius, Lao Zi, the emperors of China and even Mao Ze Dong have all paid their respects here. The pilgrim’s path begins in the town of Taian at the sprawling Dai Miao Temple. From here the Broad Road to Heaven (Pan Lu) leads the pilgrim up to the summit of Tai Shan and the Temple of the Jade Emperor (Yu Huang Ding) at the highest peak. The pilgrim’s path is some 7.5km long and can be a difficult climb with its 7000 stairs leading to the 5069 ft. summit - it is more a broad staircase than a mountain trail. Along the path there are many sights for the weary pilgrim to take in; rock inscriptions, temples, grottoes and commemorative sights provide places of rest so that one can take in the spiritual essence of Tai Shan. Guarding the entrance to the summit area is the magnificent Southern Heavenly Gate (Nan Tian Men). Scattered about the summit are several temples. The Temple of the Princess of the Azure Clouds is a center of Taoist activities and one of the nicest of Tai Shan’s temples. Nearby is the Confucian Temple and at the very summit is the Temple of the Jade Emperor. Tai Shan provides the traveler with a great collection of ancient temples and a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.

Other Sacred Mts. of China:
Wutai Shan - Buddhist Mt. of the North
Putuo Shan - Buddhist Mt. of the East
Jiuhua Shan - Buddhist Mt. of the South
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The actual summit of Tai Shan as seen from the summit, 1545 meters or 5069 feet. Located inside the Jade Emperor Temple. #394
The summit of Tai Shan as seen from the entrance to the scenic area. It is here where you get the bus to the cable car station at the top. Taian city bus has a bus to this location. #344
Climbing the broad stairway to heaven. It is a long walk from Taian to the summit. Taian can be seen in the distant background. #359
Just a little bit farther to the entrance gate of Tai Shan. #415
South Heavenly Gate (Nan Tian Men) - Entrance to the summit area of Tai Shan. #358
The Azure Cloud Temple. #378
Bell Tower - Azure Clouds Temple. #375
The Jade Emperor Temple at the summit of Tai Shan. #393
Pilgrims making incense offerings. Tai Shan being such a famous place in Chinese history many people visit the site, some come as tourists just visiting famous locations, and others come as part of a spiritual quest. Many Chinese non-believers will make an incense offering just out of respect for Chinas history. #367
The levitating monk. While maybe not really levitating he is good at his yogic practice. Physical cultivation is often a part of Daoist practice. #372
Incesesor attendant at Azure Cloud Temple. The fire hazard of incense burners is so great that most all Chinese temples employ somebody to watch over the fires in the incense burner and keep it under control. #384
Giant caldron, Azure Cloud Temple, decorated with streamers and locks visitors buy and attach to objects. #383
Censer with pilgrims offerings - Jade Emperor Temple. #395
Rock inscriptions are everyplace on the mountain. So many emperors and famous personalities have visited and many have left extensive inscriptions. #413
More of the rock inscriptions. #380
Courtyard - Azure Clouds Temple. #373
Assortment of Daoist figures inside the Jade Emperor Temple. #407
Temple guardian figures in the Jade Emperor Temple. These figures are typically seen in Buddhist temples but both religions share many common deities. The sign on the figure on the right identifies him as Supporting the Pagoda Heavenly King, the same iconography as the North Heavenly King of Buddhists temples. #408
Another Daoist figure in the Jade Emperor Temple. #405
Daoist figures from a trail-side shrine on the Broad Road to Heaven. #426
The Dai Miao - Temple of Tai Shan, located in the center of Taian. Officially this is the starting point for the trail to the summit of Tai Shan. A sprawling complex of temples, a must see for the visitor to Taian. #434
The Jade Emperor at the Dai Miao Temple in Taian. #432
A shot of one of the many red maple trees on the grounds of the Dai Miao Temple in Taian. #454
Daoist figure in the Jade Emperor Temple. #398