Mount Tai is located in Tai’an city, Shandong Province, with the highest peak rising some 1,545 meters above sea level. Mount Tai, along with Mount Huashan, Mount Hengshan (恒山in Shanxi Province), Mount Hengshan (衡山in Hunan Province) and Mount Songshan are called the “Five Great Mountains” in China, while Mount Tai has always been considered as the head of the Five Great Mountains. Mount Tai characterizes the mountain scenery of China and boasts the four wonders, known as “Brilliant Sunrise”, “Beautiful Sunset”, “Buddha’s Halo”, and “Jade Plate of the Sea of Clouds”.
The view of sunrise is the most spectacular sight at the summit of Mount Tai. With the first auroral stream of the rising sun, the dark sky gradually turns milky, then rosy, and finally the brilliant golden sunlight. The myriad changes of both view and color in the blink of an eye are as if one is watching a breathtaking show by a magician of superb skills. Sunrise atop the summit of Mount Tai has always been appealing to visitors.
On a fine and cool day at sunset, the clouds in the western sky resemble peaks, and through the gaps streams of golden sunshine pour onto the mountain. Bathed in the light of the setting sun, every cloud is outlined with a golden lining that glitters like a shining gem. Poets have described scenes like this as “Who is painting the vast sky with such wonderful colors, adding touches of bold yellow here or brilliant red there?” and “Like pure spring drops on the precipices, the setting sun dominates all the peaks”.
In a foggy morning or evening from a high position, it is possible to see a colorful ring on the faint foggy background in the direction of the sunlight. The ring, blue inside and red outside, contains the full or half figure of the viewer, exactly like the colorful halo of a Buddha, thus it is called “Buddha’s Halo” or “Holy Halo”. The Buddha’s Halo in Mount Tai is, of course, a diffraction of sunlight, mostly found on a fine but foggy day in the period from June to August, provided that the sunlight sheds at an angle.
Jade Plate of the Sea of Clouds
This is another wonder of Mount Tai, lovingly referred to as “Jade Plate of the Sea of Clouds”. In summer, after a shower, vapor rolls up in massive volumes when the warm air from the ocean is confined at the altitude of about 1,500 meters. Then, if there is no wind, a vast expanse of white cloud forms, flat as a huge jade plate suspending between the sky and the earth. Distant mountains are covered, except for a few peaks. Visitors nearby feel like a fairy riding on the cloud. In the gentle breeze, the sea of clouds waves and the peak tops fade in and out like elusive mysterious islands.