Lying in the central China in Dengfeng County of Henan Province, Mount Songshan, also called Zhongyue, is known as the “Central Great Mountain” among the Five Great Mountains in China, along with the Mount Tai in Shandong Province, Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province, Mount Heng in Shanxi Province and Mount Heng in Hunan Province. Mount Songshan, towering magnificently, is best known for its natural beauty, geological importance and Shaolin Temple.
Mount Songshan consists of Mount Taishi in the east and Mount Shaoshi in the west, stretching over 70 kilometers. It has 72 peaks grouped around the peaks of Mt. Shaoshi and Mt. Taishi, with the highest peak at an altitude of 1,492 meters. Besides these mountains, there are many valleys, caves, pools and waterfalls, each providing you with a unique and wonderful experience.
Out of the effect of many severe crust movements of the earth, the geological structure of the Songshan area is very complex, forming various kinds of geological views. Strata of five eras since the Archaeozoic to the Cenozoic are well kept as witnesses of the tremendous changes the central plain has experienced in more than three billion years. They are ideal for geological structure study and geological sightseeing as well, laurelled by geographers as the natural geological museum with “five generations of landforms together”.
Mount Songshan is one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization and an important place for emperors, monarchs, empresses from various historical periods to present their sacrifices or pray to the god, for scholars to give lectures, and for eminent monks and Taoists to preach the Buddhist or Taoist doctrines. Within a 10-square-kilometer area on Mount Songshan stand many cultural sties, such as the Shaolin Temple, Zhongyue Temple and Songyang Academy (one of the four most famous academies in Chinese history) representing the early Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. In addition, there are the earliest Observatory ever found in China, the oldest Songyue Temple Pagoda in China, and the capital city Yangcheng of feudalist Xia Kingdom. They constitute the mysterious and brilliant culture of Mount Songshan and are epitome of the Chinese culture.
The essence of Mount Songshan is the Shaolin Temple, which is situated at Shaoshi Mountain in the west of Songshan Mountain ranges. Shaolin Temple is reputed to be “the Number One Temple under Heaven” and long famous for its association with Chinese martial arts and particularly with Shaolin Kungfu. The Pagoda Forest of Shaolin Temple is China’s largest pagoda forest of Buddhism. There are nearly 250 stone and brick pagodas, ranging from the Tang, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (618-1911).
Zhongyue Temple, also called the “Taishi Temple” is located at the foot of the Huanggai Peak of the Taishi Mountain. It was first built in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and was a shrine to offer sacrifices to the god. Today’s temple buildings, covering an area of more than 100,000 sq. m, were rebuilt during Emperor Qianlong’s reign in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The axis, a 700-meter-long flagged pathway, extends from the front Zhonghua Gate in the south to the rear gate of Yushu Tower in the north. The east and west wings of the temple consist of the buildings, each having a small separate courtyard. The temple has a reputation as a home of relics with 330 old cypresses, 100 stone steles, sacred ding tripods, and iron warriors.
Mount Songshan is about 70 km from Zhengzhou and the trip takes about 2 hours. It’s an easy day trip. To visit Mount Songshan is to kill two birds with one stone: you can enjoy the beauty of a great mountain and pay homage to true Chinese Kong Fu.