Walk the Imperial Path

Allow yourself to drift into another time and space, where you are free to walk the sacred stairway. Stop to examine the calligraphy that has been left on the mountain, to meditate upon the fact that Confucious walked this way.

Ponder upon the serene beauty of the Waterfall of Black Dragon, the Immortal Bridge and the Stone Archway of Heaven Stairs.

When you reach the ancient architectual complexes make an offering to the Gods who preside over creativity. Infuse the mythos and magic, the spirituality of this place and write about the ancestors who come to surround you.



Mount Tai

"The sacred Mount Tai has been the object of an imperial pilgrimage for nearly two thousand years, and the artistic masterpieces contained within it are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration to Chinese artists and scholars and symbolises ancient Chinese civilizations and beliefs.".

Mt Taishan rises abruptly from the vast plain of central Shandong, and is naturally endowed with many scenic sites. Geologically, it is a tilted fault-block mountain, higher to the south than north, and is the oldest and most important example of the paleo-metamorphic system representative of the Cambrian Period in eastern China. Referred to as the Taishan Complex, it comprises magmetised, metamorphic, sedimentary rock and an intrusive mass of various origins that were formed in the Archean Era 170-200 million years ago. Subsequently, in the Proterozoic Era, the Taishan region began to rise, becoming part of the continent by the end of the era. Uplift continued until the middle of the Cenozoic Era. The gneiss which emerged in the Taishan region is the foundation for all of North China. Cambrian strata, fully emerged in the north, are rich in fossils. Six streams flow from the summit, their water renowned for its extremely low mineral content, slight acidity (pH = 6.3) and relatively high oxygen content (6.4 mg/l).

Mt Taishan has an extremely rich cultural heritage and, in the words of Guo Moruo, a modern Chinese scholar, is "a partial miniature of Chinese culture". Moreover, the way in which the culture has been integrated with the natural scenery is considered to be a precious legacy. Cultural relics include memorial objects, ancient architectural complexes, stone sculptures and archaeological sites of outstanding importance. There are 22 temples, 97 ruins, 819 stone tablets, and 1,018 cliffside and stone inscriptions. Mt Taishan is one of the birthplaces of the Chinese civilisation, evidence of human activity dating back 400,000 years to Yiyuan Man of the Palaeolithic Period. By Neolithic times, 5,000-6,000 years ago, it had become a significant cultural centre with two cultures flourishing, the Dawenkou to the north and the Longshan to the south of the mountain. The Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) of the Zhou Dynasty (1100-221 B.C.) witnessed the first flare of cultural creativity with the emergence of two rival states in the area, Qi to the north and Lu to the south of the mountain. During the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), the state of Qi built a 500km long wall as protection from possible invasion by the state of Chu. The ruins of this earliest of great walls in Chinese history are still evident.

According to the doctrine of five elements, which dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period, the east signifies birth and spring. Thus, standing at the eastern edge of the North China Plain, Mt Taishan has always been regarded as pre-eminent among China's five sacred mountains, first officially recognised during the reign of Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - A.D. 220). For over 3,000 years, Chinese emperors of various dynasties have made pilgrimages to Mt Taishan for sacrificial and other ceremonial purposes. These activities have acquired political significance. Rock inscriptions, stone tablets and temples bear testimony to such visits. Renowned scholars, including Confucius whose home town, Qufu, is only 70km away, have composed poetry and prose and left their calligraphy on the mountain.

Mt Taishan was also an important centre of religious activity for both Buddhism and Taoism. In 351 B.C. an eminent monk named Lang was the first to come to the mountain, and he set up the Lang and Divine Rock temples. During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.), Jade Spring Temple, God's Treasure Temple and Pervading Light Temple were built. Prime Minister Li Jiefu of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) regarded the Divine Rock Temple as first among China's four temple wonders. Places for Taoist activities included the Temple to the Heavenly Queen Mother, Palace of Goddess Doumu, Azure Cloud Temple,Rear Rock Basin Temple and Supreme Lord of Heaven Temple. The Temple to the Heavenly Queen Mother, built before the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280 A.D.), is the earliest while the Azure Cloud Temple is the most influential, its influence extending over more than half of China.

The emperors in the past came to the mountain to worship and offer sacrifices to the heaven since they think the mountain is the symbol of heaven. Today people come to worship the mountain for their health, wealth and happiness. There are five famous sacred mountains in China. Mount Tai is ranked the first among the five mountains.

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