|Song-shan ( 嵩山 Sōng Shān )
China's Central Daoist Sacred Mountain
|Overview of the gigantic Zhongyue Daoist Temple on the south side
of Song-shan -- the 2nd-most-famous sacred site of this mountain.
It is 20 centuries old, and contains a large shrine for this mountain's
spirit. This complex was designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural
Heritage Site in July 2010, and includes two Han-Dynasty gates.
Tang Empress Wu performed the Feng Shan ritual here in 695 CE.
Of the sacred Five Imperial-Daoist Mountains, Song-shan occupies the the middle or central
position, and therefore is especially venerated. It might be considered the 2nd most-sacred
set of peaks & valleys in China (after Tai-shan). "Song-shan" is really a conglomeration of
two connected mountains, Taishi-shan and Shaoshi-shan (this sort of naming of mountain-clusters
as sacred entities is common in Korea too). It is classically said to have 72 distinctive peaks
with charming anthropomorphic names, and housing on its slopes 72 Buddhist and Taoist
temples and Confucian shrines -- 72 is 9X8, combination of the highest odd and even
numbers and this a symbol of Completeness. These temples and shrines contain a grand
collection of cultural relics, earning the entire area the reputation of “land of cultural relics”.
|north of Song-shan and across the Yellow River, near China's 2nd capital city Luoyang, is the
riverside White Horse Temple [Baima-si, Baekma-sa], the first Buddhist monastery in "China proper".
Geography adapted from Wikipedia: Song-shan is a cluster of seven connected
mountains such as Taishi-shan, Shaoshi-shan and others, in the Dengfeng district
of Henan Province. It has 36 peaks and stretches for 64 km between the major
cities of Luoyang and Zhengzhou. Summit Junji, the highest peak, is 1512 m
above sea-level. The slopes rise steeply from the valleys and are thickly clad
with trees, topped with sharp rocky crags, giving them an impressive appearance.