Thursday, June 23, 2016

The 2016 Qingdao Holiday - Day 6

Tai-an is named after Tai-san or Mount Tai which is known as the eastern mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China. It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and is often regarded the foremost of the five. Mount Tai has been a place of worship for at least 3,000 years and served as one of the most important ceremonial centers of China during large portions of this period.

Mount Tai is located in western Shandong, just north of the city of Tai'an and to the south of the provincial capital Jinan. It extends from 150 to 1,545 metres (492 to 5,069 ft) above sea level and covers an area of 426 square kilometres (164 square miles) at its base. The Jade Emperor Peak is 1,532.7 metres (5,029 ft) above sea level.

Mount Tai has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. In 2003, it attracted around 6 million visitors. A renovation project was completed in late October 2005, which aimed at restoring cultural relics and renovating damaged buildings of cultural significance. Widely known for its special ceremonies and sacrifices, Mount Tai has seen visits by many poets and literary scholars who have traveled there to gain inspiration. There are grandiose temples, many stone inscriptions and stone tablets with the mountain playing an important role in the development of both Buddhism and Taoism.

As a symbol of monarchy and power, Mount Tai was the place where emperors offered their Fengshan sacrificial ceremonies and worshipped the Heavenly kings after they ascended their thrones or in the year of peace and harvest.

With the above fore-knowledge, we began our tour today to the Tai Shan Scenic Area with much excitement. Coincidentally today also commemorates another important festival in remembrance of Chu Yuan, the Tuan Wu Festival also popularly called the Dragon Boat Festival. Traditional Chinese would celebrate this day by eating glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.

We took the cable car up to the 1410m level before hiking the remaining 135m height to the peak at 1545m. The trek was energy sapping and knees punishing but I'm glad both my wife and I made it to the summit without incidents. This would, I believe, be our last hill climb. As a souvenir, I bought a walking stick from the petty trader by the climbing pathways. Tonight we stayed in the same Tai-an hotel.

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