Top 5 sacred mountains in China

Mount Tai, photo by kanegen on Flickr

Buddhists and Taoists in China have beautiful and ancient temples where they can pay their respects to their deities, but man-made buildings, no matter how intricate and lovingly constructed, have to rival with nature’s wonders when it comes to how sacred their are. Mountains have always had a special place in Chinese religions, either because they were thought to support the sky, or because they were home to mystics and sages. Fact is, even today mountains are revered and they are a place of pilgrimage for many. Whether you are Buddhist or not, you can’t help but be touched by the mystical atmosphere surrounding these places. Here are top 5 sacred mountains in China, for those on a spiritual journey or simply on the lookout of beautiful natural scenery.

Tai Shan, Shandong Province

Mount Tai is one of the Taoist Five Sacred Mountains, arranged according to the principles of Chinese geomancy. This mountain is associated with sunrises, rebirth and newness, which makes it the foremost of the five. Mount Tai has been a place of worship for the past three millennia, and today it is a Unesco World Heritage Site that attracts more than six million visitors every year. The natural beauty of Mount Tai is significant – it has many unusual rock formations and vistas.

Mount Wutai, Shanxi Province

Mount Wutai, photo by Julien Lozelli

Mount Wutai, the ‘five plateau mountain’, is not only a natural wonder, but also home to more than fifty important monasteries and temples, which were inscribed on the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites. This is a truly unusual mountain, which gets its name from its five rounded peaks. Wutai is one of the Four Sacred Mountains in Buddhism, and it is thought to be the home of the bodhisattva of wisdom.

Heng Shan, Hunan Province

Heng Mountain is another one of the Taoist sacred five, and it is the sacred mountain of the south. The lush, fog covered forests are an instant attraction for any tourist bent on hiking and exploration, but perhaps the most significant sight in the area is the Grand Temple of Mount Heng, the largest ancient temple in Hunan. Another worthwhile sight is Zhusheng Si Temple, dating back to the 8th century.

Mount Longhu, Jianxi Province

Mount Longhu, photo by tyler_hanglund

Mount Longhu might not be one of the five sacred Taoist mountains, but it is considered to be the birthplace of Taoism. There are many Taoist temples on the mountainside, and Shangqing Temple and the Immortal City are two of the most important. The mountain has another huge cultural significance in addition – it was used as a burial site by the Guyue people, who put their dead in coffins hanging on the mountain.

Hua Shan, Shanxi Province

Hua Shan is sometimes called the Flowery Mountains, because its five peaks are laid out in a shape resembling a flower. The path up on the slopes can be tortuous, but nothing that a hiking enthusiast can’t handle. The slopes and peaks of the mountain are home to countless temples and monasteries, some of which require a test of courage to reach – walking on the edge of cliffs, with only chains as a support!

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