Cultural Heritage

The Five Sacred mountains of Ancient China (2)

This blog post is a continuation of the last one, and will look at the remaining two of the five mountains, Hengshan and Songshan:

The famous Zhurong peak from Hengshan, Hunan

Hengshan (衡山,héngshān) in the south in the province of Hunan is famous for its unique, beautiful shape and rich foliage from the warm and humid climate. From a high view point, one can see the many long spurs extended out from both sides of a narrow ridge in the middle. Together with the clouds and fogs that the region is often covered in, you will get a spectacular view of the mountains looking like a line of giant birds gliding through the sky with their wings spread wide.

Shaolin Temple, Songshan

Lastly, in the heartland of China in Henan Province is Songshan (嵩山sōngshān), known for its famous Buddhist Temple of Shaolin, which is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China of over 1000 years. The temple now is still in operation and is the training ground of the renowned Shaolin School of martial art. Songshan is also a popular site of great geological treasure. It is the oldest among the others, and has experienced five major earth movements spanning from 2.5 billion till about 540 millions ago. In fact, the rock features from different movements are so clear and representative that Songshan was given the name “earth history stone book” amongst geologists.

While the concept of sacredness is no longer significant to modern life, these mountains still retain their status as the most important ones because they have long been tightly weaved into the historical fabric of Chinese culture. There is a saying “五岳归来不看山” (wǔyuèguīlái búkànshān) – “I do not need to look at other mountains after I have visited the great five”. It may be an exaggeration given what we know about great mountains around the world, but if you do have the chance to visit China, do not miss these living ancient gems!