Published: May 22nd 2011May 22nd 2011
About 1 or 2 million years ago or so, some creases started forming on the crust of the land mass that would end up being China. Five of those creases were named Holy mountains in more recent times, about 3000 years ago. Often dubbed the most renouned one is Mount Tai, Tai Shan 泰山. Literaly the two characters translate to 2 similar words for peace. It was here that the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang declared the unity of his kingdom around 219 B.C. from the Jade Peak at 1545 meters (just over 5000 ft). The way to the top starts at the foot of the mountain in the city of Tai'an and is paved with more than 6000 steps. It was reported that a worthy ruler would climb the mountain and at sunrise he would ask the Sun God for some aid. Out of about 1000 dynasties of emperors in China, only about 10 or so emperors were worthy to make the climb. To be worthy, an emperor would have to have been deemed good by their people and their dynasty as a strong one. There is the story, for example, of the emperor who climbed the mountain to ask
for aid and then got conquered by the mongols, who is still rediculed today as non-worthy to go to the Holy Mountain.
It is said that "If Tai'shan is stable then the country is stable". From paleolithic times it was a place connected with rebirth and beginnings, as a grand place to witness the sunset (endings) and the the sunrise (rebirth). Thus at its highest peak stands the Gateway to Heaven. The ascend to the Gateway and the witness of the sunrise and sunset is connected with a passage to immortality. Hence, there are numerous shrines and temples to various Gods, as well as holy inscriptions on the mountain's sheer-cut faced rocks, adding to it's majestic natural beauty.
The way up can take a leisurly 6 hours and can be arduous. The traveller can't help but think about the effort it took for those 6000 steps to be created, as well as be humbled by the size and beauty of this ancient site. One might find oneself imagining what it must have been like almost 2500 years ago when the first emperor climbed to carve his decleration on a 100 ft sheet of rock, and what meaning those Taoist priests
in those shrines derived for the world, life and what comes after.
If the traveller times their journey correctly they could arrive at the Gateway to Heaven at sunset and ponder endings, conclusions, things and people left behind but also peace, tranquility, beauty and the promise of the sunrise in a few hours.
After a few hours of darkness, on the opposite side of the mountain, over one of the many sites available, the traveller can witness the grandeur that is nature and the cycle that has been taking place for over 4.5 billion years, in the form of a trully gorgeous Sunrise! The colours blasting through the clouds over these amazing mountain peaks are referrences that to a lot of people are left to reside in novels and Hollywood movies.
You can almost hear music coming from the sky as the new day starts at the peak of the holy mountain, promising new beginnings, new births and second chances, and again that second Chinese character 山meaning peace.
It is said that if you want you can whisper a wish to the Sun God at sunrise, and if you are worthy it will come true. Ask me during a sunrise,
and I will whisper to you what I wished for all of you.
Dedicated to all who left us early, who left too quick for a last farewell and to all who are left behind. If the world gets too dark, look to the sunrise. It will always eventualy come.
There are more photos below