Mount Taishan is one of China’s Five Great Mountains that Emperors visited on pilgrimages in search of truth and faith. Knowledge of it dates as far back as the Xia Dynasty (2070 to 1600 BC) and ancient tradition associates it with birth, sunrise and renewal. Climbing its 6,600 steps at dawn to worship at the temple repeats a tradition faithfully followed for over 3,000 years. Even Confucius left his mark on Mount Taishan.
The Midway Gate to Heaven
Mount Taishan is in eastern China’s Shandong Province not far the capital Jinan. Getting to the city is straightforward as Jinan Yaoqiang International Airport is 33 kilometres / 21 miles distant, and it is at the intersection of two major railways. From there, buses and taxis take visitors to the entrance to the site where they begin their personal journey back in time by passing through the Midway Gate to Heaven.
The 6,600 Steps Up Mount Taishan China UNESCO Heritage Site
The cable car up Mount Taishan predates UNESCO World Heritage Site incorporation, and I suggest you overlook it unless unavoidable. Each of us in on a personal journey, and climbing the steps to the South Gate to Heaven stopping regularly to admire the view adds a spiritual dimension that you might otherwise miss.
You could also take a modern winding brick path to the summit and I certainly recommend it for the return journey if you have vertigo. When I climbed the never-ending staircase, I thought about the tradition that I would live to be 100 if I made it although this was unconvincing at the halfway point.
The South Gate to Heaven
Once through the Mount Taishan gate you enter a paradigm, another dimension where the boundary between material and spiritual blurs. Forget about the 18,000 inscriptions and the eleven other temples. Focus your immediate attention on the Temple to the God of Taishan. Marvel at the Taoist masterpiece painting of AD 1009 called ‘The God of Taishan Making a Journey’. You have made your own. Be grateful you arrived. Meditate on these things. Then take the 660 steps down to reality and tell me which of the two is a better place. Personally, I think Mount Taishan China UNESCO Heritage Site takes it.