Ten years ago, my dad and I once had an excellent one day hiking tour on Mount Tai in Shandong Province. After visiting Confucian Temple and Kong’s Residence in Qufu the other day, we set out to Tai An city very early in the next morning. Although it was raining that day, we found that the foot of Tai shan had already been crowded when we got there. Peddlers, tourists and foreign visitors were all heading forward to the front gate.
As the leader of the “Five Sacred Mountains”, Mt. Tai is the largest one lying across the cities of Tai’an, Jinan and Zibo. For both me and my dad, it was our first time to climb such huge mountain on a rainy day. So, we both agreed to pick up the most commonly used and safest east route.
Following the crowds, the first attraction spot of Mt. Tai Scenic Spot area was the Dai Temple located at the foot of Mt. Tai. It is said that this temple was used as a worship place for sacrificial ceremonies in ancient period. The main structure of this temple is TianKuang Hall or “Hall of Heavenly blessing”, which was first built in 1009. The east route, according to the local residence, was regarded as the imperial route because most of Chinese emperors took this way while making sacrifices. There are approximately more than 6000 stone steps along this route and it exactly took us four hours to reach the mountain peak. When moving upward, we had seen so many breathtaking sceneries, palaces and stone inscriptions. The next thing jumped into our sight was Daizong Archway, which was made of stones with four pillars and three gates. Then, the Red Gate Palace is one of the three most important temples in Mt. Tai Scenic Spot Area. Normally, this palace is thought to be the formal starting point of east route. Walking through the Red Gate, we arrived at Jing Shi valley where we saw the biggest stone-carved diamond sutra in China. The Eighteen Bends would be considered as the hardest stretch all the way to the mountain top. It consists of more than 1,600 steps and the total vertical height is around 400 meters.
Among the traditional route, there are other three kinds of route. The fastest and most fashionable route would start from Heaven and Earth Square to Mid-Heaven Gate. Then visitors have to take cable car to the top of the mountain. Attractions along this way include Heaven Earth Square, Black Dragon Pool, Tomb of General Feng Yuxiang, and Longevity Bridge and so on. The most convenient way for tourists who drive or take bus would be Peach Blossom Ravine Route. The last route would be the most adventurous Tianzhu Peak, enjoying Eight Immortals Cave, Big Tianzhu Peak and Small Tianzhu Peak, the pine trees in Hou Shi Wu etc.
Mountain Tai is a perfect combination of fantastic natural scenery and historical relics. Aside from that, it is very suitable for hiking lovers.